It has been three years since we last saw Spyro the Dragon and fans of the little purple fire breather have been clamoring for his return. This holiday season, Activision has answered the call by breaking the third wall, bringing us Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure. A game in which gamers take on the role of a “Portal Master” by utilizing the “Portal of Power” peripheral in order to control one of thirty-two different Skylanders in order to rebuild the Core of Light and defeat the evil Kaos.
At first glance, this game looks complicated, as it can be very confusing trying to figure out how one video game can utilize over thirty different statuettes for characters in combination of this wireless “Portal of Power” peripheral. Well let me explain; the Starter Pack for Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure comes with a “Portal of Power” and three statuettes of different Skylanders: Trigger Happy, Spyro, and Gill Grunt. While playing the game, you simply place one (or two if playing co-op) of these Skylanders on the “Portal of Power” and they will appear as your character in the game. However, is this game worth the entry fee of $69.99 for the Starter Pack and an additional $7.99 per Skylander? We found out in our review of what’s HOT and what’s NOT in Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure.
One thing that we could always depend on when it comes to the Spyro series is that the voice acting would be top of the line. With previous titles containing talent such as Elijah Wood, Wayne Brady, David Spade, and Mark Hamill just to name a few, Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure adds Patrick Warburton (Brock Samson, Joe Swanson, Rip Riley, Jeff Bingham, Kronk, yeah you know this guy), Richard Steven Horvitz (Zim from Invader Zim), and many others to the roster. The writing in the game does feel like a early 90’s kid’s cartoon but the game for kids ages 6 and up so it’s perfect for the child gamer in training.
Light RPG Elements
Like I mentioned before this game is meant for kids and because of this the RPG elements are very light. As you play through this game you will gain levels with the Skylander you are currently playing as. As you collect money it can be spent between levels unlocking different abilities and choosing different concentrations for your Skylander. For example, Gil Grunt can choose on becoming a Harpoon Master, or a Water Wielder, once you choose a path more abilities open up while the other path’s abilities are locked out. The level cap is only level ten at the moment and Activision has made no announcement of raising the cap, but all progress made is saved directly on the Skylander toy/statuette itself and is cross compatible with any platform.
Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure’s colorful art style lends itself well to the game, as even the most vile of creatures still seem to make you want to hug them and squeeze them until they pop. Levels are well designed and never become to cumbersome as the game shows you where you need to go through delightful conversations with the cartoony characters that you meet during your quest to rebuild the Core of Light.
Many gamers may complain that this game is following the trend of locking away content that already exists within the game and forcing gamers to pay an extra fee to get access to this content. While that technically is true, Skylanders does it in a way that doesn’t feel abusive and keeps these blocked areas from feeling intrusive. You see, each Skylander falls into a specific category and these locked areas require a specific type of Skylander to unlock it. For example, an area may require a Water type to unlock and so placing Gil Grunt onto the “Portal of Power” will open the area to all Skylanders. The game does not require that you enter these zones to complete the game, but it does trigger that completionist itch. The good news is that there are only eight different Skylander types and three come with the game’s Starter Pack.
One of the biggest gripes I had with this game was the preconceived notion I had that this game would be about Spyro seeing as how the title of the game includes “Spyro’s Adventure.” Not once did I ever even hear the name Spyro mentioned. They could have simply named this game “Skylanders: The Portal of Power” and it would not have done any harm to the game. Spyro fans beware, this is NOT a Spyro game; it is merely a great kids game that has decided to utilize the Spyro name in order to get some sales.
The gameplay in this game is extremely simple, but simple to the point where it is slightly frustrating. It would have been nice to have the ability to jump instead having to walk completely around tiny ramps in order to go up them becomes a chore and takes away from the game’s experience. There is no way to block or dodge enemy attacks and combat quickly devolves into who can deal the most damage before they die.
Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure is not a Spyro game, so fans of the series need to know this walking in. The game is also not meant for everyone; the gameplay’s casual feel may frustrate more sophisticated gamers but casual gamers and young gamers alike will find delight in the simplicity of the storytelling. With high quality voice acting, easy introduction to RPG elements, and unique peripherals, Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure is an excellent addition to any household collection with either casual gamers, youth gamers, or simply that gamer whose inner child has not yet been jaded by the industry.
[Editor’s Note: Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure was reviewed on the PlayStation 3 hardware. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure Review,