Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure (Hands-On) (Wii) Preview

By Mike Mason 18.09.2011 3

Review for Skylanders: Spyro

Fiddling with figurines is child’s play, but that doesn’t mean that there’s nothing in Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure to appeal to those who are young only at heart. Place one of the included - or separately purchasable - toys upon the bundled cradle and it will magically come to life in digital form on screen, waiting for your command and a spot of adventure. Led by Spyro the Dragon and the recognition that his little purple face brings with it, Skylanders is Activision’s attempt to get in on the Christmas toy market at the same time as continuing to dominant in the gaming industry.

Skylanders is essentially your standard action game aimed towards youngsters. The camera peers down on the land, similar to the viewpoint found in LEGO games, ensuring a wide viewing area in which most relevant things can be seen at once. Spyro and company traipse through the environments smashing things - and enemies - up, unlocking doors and solving simple puzzles by dragging things around. It’s straightforward, entirely button-based gameplay, but it feels good, never throwing up any technical difficulties.

Skylanders differentiates itself with the range of toys being released to support it. Three are in the box - the only three that you will ever actually need to complete the game, we’re told - but more can be bought to expand your collection and to find a favourite. These are not mere blobs of plastic, however. The cute and colourful figures each sit atop small plinths containing electronic wizardry, a fact only betrayed by some small nodes underneath. To play you’ll need to place one of these figures on the platform that also comes with the game - without a figure on said base, it just won’t work. Do so and the character you’ve placed down will pop up on the screen. Lovely. In-game you’ll need to use separate figures to conquer certain elements. For example, only a fire Skylander like Spyro can burn something down. Easy enough - you can swap the characters round on the fly with minimum fuss. This is nothing new, but the physical act of switching a figure rather than pressing a button is sure to appeal to children.

Screenshot for Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure (Hands-On) on Wii

The important thing about these figures, though, is that they track statistics as you play. They level up and become stronger; rather than a character in a save game, it is your actual figure that gains the improvements. This means that you can pluck your character off the pod, trot round to a friend’s house and bring your character into their game instantly for some co-operative play through the toy. Since it’s a dedicated peripheral and range of figurines, cross-platform support is facilitated too.

Cute gimmicks aside, Skylanders is just simple fun, and it has a great style to it. The chunky visuals are well animated, the facial expressions designed to raise a smile, giving it a charming look. Even block puzzles are sparked up a little due to the ‘blocks’ actually being gigantic square turtles that react comically to their forced movement. There seems to be plenty of variety throughout the stages too; dozens were unlocked for play but we only had time to sample a few, from an area with spilled oil to your average grassy land. On top of the main gameplay there is also at least some kind of hub world, through which you can speak to characters and access challenge levels. In the demo we were challenged to stomp through a haunted mansion, avoiding spiders, zombies and possessed suits of armour, to find and destroy several paintings to a strict time limit.

Screenshot for Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure (Hands-On) on Wii

Final Thoughts

Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure may not do much new outside of its obvious peripheral usage, but there’s nothing wrong with that when it’s implemented well. It looks to be a decent action game for youngsters, though it remains to be seen how successful the figurine aspect will be. Activision’s GAMEfest stand displayed characters and merchandise in final packaging looking ready to be rolled onto shop shelves in an instant - they clearly have some confidence in the concept, at least.

Developer

Vicarious Visions

Publisher

Activision

Genre

3D Platformer

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  n/a

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

It's a neat idea, I do miss the old look Spyro though. Would be interesting if Nintendo followed a similar approach with Pokemon!

Cubed3 Admin/Founder & Designer

jb said:
Would be interesting if Nintendo followed a similar approach with Pokemon!

Shhh, don't give them any ideas! Smilie

That's not a bad idea actually. They could make hundreds of Pokemon AR cards to use.

At least this game doesn't sound too bad. Do miss old Spyro games though too.

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