When I was eight years old, I was a huge fan of Spyro, and I probably would have lost my mind hearing about Wii Skylanders and its starter pack. I’d collect all the figurines and get right into the gimmick; in fact, it would be wrong to say that Skylanders Wii still doesn’t satisfy me, but I suspect the high price may be a major turn-off to people who aren’t otherwise huge fans.
The game itself is inspired by the many LEGO games, it offers cooperative gameplay for children under ten as they defeat enemies in mines, castles, pirate ships and forests. One problem with the game is that while you can play as Spyro, but he’s mute and nobody ever speaks his name.
Still, the action is engaging enough for older siblings to play along. In fact, the game almost requires it due to the difficulty spike halfway through. While the story doesn’t do anything new or special, it’s still a fun, cute tale about a dragon and his friends rescuing the world from a crazy sorcerer.
In fact, the simple story makes me wonder if it came second just to complement the technology it came with. The figurines and the Portal of Power it arrived with are ultimately very cool, though the first thing I thought was “money grab.” Even I cannot deny, though, that there’s something addictive about it. It’s a similar reaction to what made me buy so many Pokemon cards and Z-Bots over a decade ago.
The game offers incentives to obtain additional figurines. While you can beat the game with just the three from the starter pack, you can get more to complete extra challenges. On top of that, each figurine gives you an extra life to help you continue a level without restarting.
The really cool part about the figures is that the figure itself stores data and can level up, upgrading weapons and attacks, and completing challenges to make it stronger. Because it stores its own data, taking it to a friends house lets you retain your hard-earned level, and it even works cross-platform; in other words, you can take your Wii figurines and retain your level on your friend’s PS3.
It may cost a pretty penny to collect all the figures, but even without them, the game holds up as a substantial game. There’s challenge, there’s fun, and I personally really like the fact that this game is truly cross-platform-supportive, making it all feel less like a gimmick and much more like cool technology.