Skylanders Giants Review
What will you do for one?
Over the last year, I’ve stepped on them, glued them back together, found them between the couch cushions, watched my kids fight over them, on multiple occasions had to listen to the reasons why new ones were necessary and found a new bargaining chip in the battle of getting my kids to do things they don’t want to do. Over the last week, my life hasn’t changed much, except for that fact that some of them have gotten bigger and I’ve been having a lot of fun with them. They are Skylanders and they’ve taken over my life.
After the success of last year’s Skylanders Spyro’s Adventure, you knew that Activision and Toys For Bob weren’t going to stop there and we’d be seeing more Skylanders in the future. That brings us to last week and the release of Skylanders Giants, a whole new adventure for your kids and your wallet. The story picks up with Kaos waking up on Earth and passing through a Portal of Power that causes him to gain new electric powers which awakens an ancient robot, whose army was defeated by the Giants many years ago. Now the Skylanders with the help of the Giants, Flynn and Cali, must stop Kaos before he finds the rest of the robot army and uses them to takeover Skylands.
The gameplay in Skylanders Giants remains mostly the same, with the exception of the Giants who are bigger and stronger, as you’ll fight through chapters to complete objectives, solve puzzles, collect treasure, find secret areas and work to level up your characters. Anyone who’s played Spyro’s Adventure will feel right at home as they didn’t make any drastic changes to the formula, but they did enough, such as adding new characters, worlds, mini-games and collectibles, to make it feel like a new experience and not just a cash grab. Don’t get me wrong, you’re still going to be spending a lot of money as you buy your kids new characters, but the new game is different enough that it’s not just about the new toys.
Between each chapter you’ll have free roam of Flynn’s new airship, where you can purchase upgrades for your characters, purchase items such as new Battle Mode arena’s, hats, soulstones and more, complete Heroic challenges to increase your skills and play the new Soulstones mini-game. Soulstones is very similar to the Triple Triad card game from Final Fantasy 8, where you have a board of nine open slots and you and your opponent take turns placing your Soulstones. Each Soulstone has a different number of spikes on each edge and the more spikes your stones have, the more powerful they are. The objective is to place a stone with more spikes up against your opponents stone to capture it. The player with the most stones after all nine have been placed wins. Younger kids probably won’t notice it, but Soulstones was definitely based on Triple Triad and fans of FF8 will appreciate it.
There are 48 new toys for Skylanders Giants, with eight new Giants, eight new regular characters, who also have a Lightcore version that lights up when placed on the portal, and then the rest are Series 2 Skylanders returning from the original, some Lightcore and some regular, that will have new powers and upgrades available. The starter pack that I got included the game, the new portal, Tree Rex (Giant), Jet-Vac (new regular Skylander) and Cynder, who is a returning character. It also comes with stickers, cards and a poster of all of the characters which is all bonus stuff that kids love to get. If you own Spyro’s Adventure, you can purchase the Portal Owner’s pack and save $15 but it only comes with just Tree Rex and the new game, so you won’t get the new portal, which is needed for the new characters to light up, or the two regular Skylanders. It’s there if you want it, but I think it’s worth getting the Starter’s Pack since that extra $15 is the price of one individual Skylander and you get much more than that if you put the extra money towards the Starter’s Pack.
There are a couple of issues that I have with the game, even if my kids don’t seem to mind. The biggest complaints that I have are that the Skylanders still can’t jump on their own so you have to rely solely on the bouncing pads, you can’t spin the camera, and not all of them have a sprinting ability. Tree Rex for example, is very slow to move so he would benefit greatly from some sort of sprinting option. Their speed does increase as you level up or if you find new hats that increase it, but it wasn’t until around level 10 that he wasn’t annoyingly slow. He does have a Stampede attack that makes him charge at an enemy, but it’s not quite as good as having a true sprinting option and not all of them have something like that. It’s also kind of a bummer that you can’t play Soulstones against each other, which isn’t a major issue, but it would have been really cool if you could.
Skylanders Giants also isn’t quite as long as Spyro’s Adventure, with less chapters, but there are a ton of collectibles to find, even more than in Spyro’s Adventure so the extra replay value makes up for it a little bit. Plus, you can play any Adventure packs that you already have from Spyro’s Adventure with the new characters in Giants and you can also use all of your old Skylanders in the new game and level them up to level 15 now. If your kids have as many Skylanders as mine do, Giants should keep them busy for a while.
I’m still amazed by how brilliantly designed the Skylanders toys are. The fact that they can save their information inside the toy itself so you can take it to another portal, regardless of the console you’re playing on, is quite impressive. That means that your kids can take their Skylanders characters to a friend’s house, or vice-versa, and it will bring their progress with them, which is something my kids love about it.
Skylanders Giants features four, player vs player Battle Modes: Arena Rumble, Skygoals, Skygem Master and Ring Out. Even though all four modes are fun, and my kids have been having a blast with them, they still only support two players and in local play only. I’d love to see both the campaign and the Battle modes support online play, but at the very least they should be four player local, as it would really help avoid the fight of who’s turn it is when there are more than two kids around.
Even with a Giant on there, you can squeeze four Skylanders on the portal, so hopefully, even if in the end it does mean you have to buy a bigger portal, this is something they will include in the inevitable third game in the series.
Skylanders Giants gives your kids more of what they loved in Spyro’s Adventure, with some great new characters, lots of new collectibles to find, the fun new Soulstones mini-game and a reason to hang out with some old friends again. It’s also a great game for parents to play with their kids, and not hate every minute of it. If nothing else, Activision have given us parents another trick up our sleeve to make our kids eat their supper, do their chores and be nice to their siblings. That is, if they want that new Skylander they so badly need.
Price: $59.99 – $79.99
Available On: Xbox 360, PS3, 3DS, Wii and Coming Soon to the Wii U