by Liam Edwards
previewed on PS3
Each of the different versions of Skylanders has a certain uniqueness to it. But each is linked by the models too. The Wii version and 360/PS3 versions are almost exactly the same game, with little differences in graphics and control schemes. The Wii version uses the motion control ability to have players waggle and flail as they perform tasks and go into combat. Naturally, the Wii version was less than stellar graphically and the large HD screen I played Skylanders on did not exactly help. At the time of testing, the Wii Skylanders was poor graphically even by Wii game standards and levels and environments were not even close to how detailed the 360 or PS3 versions were.
The 360 and PS3 versions of the title are actually stunning, with a surprising amount of detail having gone into the environments and characters. I was actually taken aback by how good the game actually looked. XPEC Entertainment have done a fantastic job of taking the Skylanders version from the Wii and porting it over to the other consoles.
The 3DS version of the title, which is being developed by Vicarious Visions, is an entirely different game. And out of all the versions is the most like a Spyro game of old. The 3DS version is more of a platformer than the other versions, with players having to collect crystals to unlock more levels and finish the main campaign. Unlike the other Skylanders titles, characters are able to jump and double jump. The portal of power that comes with the 3DS version is also smaller so it can be carried around by players.
One of Skylanders' very clever features is the ability to use the models cross-platform. Each character is customizable within the game, with players being able to give each character items. Each character can be levelled up too, so building up a character's stats can be important.
This is why Toys for Bob have included a memory chip in the bottom of each model's base. This allows for players to use their models on any of the different versions of the game. So for players who want to play multi-player together, they can use their own characters that they have built up.
The sad fact
Skylanders is not a Spyro game. It really has nothing to do with Spyro, and except for the 3DS title, it is not really even a platformer. And it is not a game that will interest many gamers, even with its very interesting technology. Although Skylanders hits its target audience perfectly, it is hard to see Skylanders selling well and getting the recognition it deserves for some very inventive ideas and the fun you actually have while playing it.
The models are good looking and seem to have a high production value. Each character is nicely designed and they are all unique. Gamers who also like collecting models such as Warhammer might have some interest in Skylanders. But it is hard to understand the point behind having physical models. With players being able to download DLC through the PSN, Wii-ware and Xbox Live Marketplace, the point of having physical models seems, well, rather pointless. I was also told that you could complete the game with just three models, so this reiterates the point that you do not have to go out and buy more models unless you seriously want to collect them all. And Skylanders did not really offer much on the re-playability front either, so going back and playing the game with new characters just does not seem worth the price.
It is a double-edged sword, as Skylanders is interesting and actually offers some enjoyable gameplay. But the use of physical models and the price of buying thirty of them is something I cannot see any gamer wanting to fork out for. But if models and collectables are your thing, then Skylanders might be for you. But, as it stands, unless Toys for Bob come up with another interesting idea to get gamers into it, Skylanders will only sell with children, and that is a kind of a sad thought.