Skylanders Spyro’s Adventure has hit store shelves and it brings a brand new concept to the series. The story behind it is that Kaos banished the Skylanders from Skylands and they landed on Earth in small miniature form. You, as the Portal Master, have to bring them back to life by placing the figures on the “Portal of Power”. By placing the Spyro figure on this Portal he will come to life in the game and you can play as him. If at any time you want to switch out characters, simply take Spyro off the Portal and put Gill Grunt on and then you will be playing as him in a matter of seconds. You can do this throughout the story and there will eventually be 32 characters in all. Playing as different charcters in the game really is that easy and it is an innovative concept that works really well.
The game starts out with Kaos decimating the “Core of Light” which results in the Darkness (a.k.a. evil) taking over. Your mission throughout the game is to collect different artifacts and pieces so that you can rebuild the Core of Light and save the world. When you first purchase this game at the store it will come with three different Skylander characters. You can beat the game with just these three characters, however, if you want to experience everything in the game you will need to purchase some other figures. There is a place in the Skylands that acts as your hub world. This is where you can visit with some of the characters you have come across in your travels. The entire hub world won’t be accessible at first, however, you will gain access to new areas as you progress in the story. This is also the place where you can upgrade your charcters. Each figure can “remember” everything that you do in your adventure. If you are playing as Spyro and you have collected 1,000 coins then that is Spyro’s money. It won’t transfer over to any of the other characters. Similarly if you level Spyro up it won’t affect any of the other characters either. You will want to pay attention to what each character is getting and decide who you really want to level up. There are a couple of different levels to the leveling up process and once you purchase the first set of upgrades you are presented with a choice. You can either concentrate on an offensive weapon that you have or concentrate on something else. Be careful what you choose though because you can’t go back and you miss out on the skills that you declined to learn. You need to decide what kind of characters you want and then stick with them.
One of the main things that makes Skylanders Spyro’s Adventure so innovative is that it is cross console compatible. I can take my level 8 Gill Grunt character off of my portal at home and take it over to a friend’s house who has the Wii version of the game. I can put my Gill Grunt figure on his portal and my character will come alive in his game, complete with everything that I have done on the Xbox 360 version. It transfers everything over so that you don’t lose a thing and later when I go back home to play it, it will remember everything I did at my friend’s house on the Wii. This is something that I have personally wanted in games for years. A lot of kids do not own multiple consoles and can only play games for the system they own. This new concept ensures that two friends in school will be able to play this game together, regardless of what system they own. It is a fantastic idea and something that the development team over at Toys For Bob should be commended for.
In addition to the single player story there is also some multiplayer action in this game. There are three different modes with “Arena Rumble,” “Sky Goals” and “Sky Gem Master” respectively. You can pick your different settings here such as whether the victor gets his health restored after every match, whether power ups will be available and things of that nature. There is even a “Fair Fight” option which will even out a fight between Skylanders who have different experience levels. Arena Rumble is simply a fight between two Skylanders to see who comes out on top. There are different arenas that you can fight in that will have a bunch of different hazards that you can try and use against your opponent. In “Sky Goals” you and a friend are on a map and a goal post is placed somewhere on that map. Once the match begins a football appears and it is a mad dash to see who can get the football first. Whoever gets the football then needs to go over to the goal post and kick a field goal. If your opponent gets the ball first then you can try and hit him until he fumbles the ball and you have another shot at getting it. The player with the highest score at the end of the round wins. The “Sky Gem Masters” mode has you on a map and there is a gem that appears on the map. The first one to get the gem gets a point and the winner is the one with the most points. These multiplayer modes seem like they would be a lot of fun if you are playing them with friends locally. Unfortunately, there is no online play in this title so that is the only way you are going to get to play these modes against your friends. The campaign also features local co op as well. As you play through the game you will notice that each character falls under a specific class. The different classes in the game fall along the lines of tech, fire, earth, etc. The voice acting in the game is really well done and the person a lot of people will probably recognize the most is Patrick Warburton. If you aren’t sure who that is he does the voice for “Joe” on Family Guy and he was a regular on Seinfeld portraying the “David Puddy” character. The music itself is done by the great Hans Zimmer which means the music in the game is fantastic.
As I have indicated above, I have had a lot of fun with this game. I do have a couple of concerns about it though. As I mentioned above there is no online play. This will severely limit replayability for some people and is a big mistake in my opinion. The fun that I had playing this game would have been multiplied if I could have played with my friend across the country over Xbox Live. The figures themselves are really well done, however, I worry that some kids might lose their toys which means they would also lose their progress in the game with that specific character. This is obviously something the development team has no control over and parents will just have to be vigilant in make sure nothing gets lost. Throughout the game there were a few times when I noticed some graphical clipping and slowdown. It is nothing major as the slowdown usually took place in areas where it didn’t affect the gameplay but it did occur.
Overall, Skylanders Spyro’s Adventure is a really fun title. The game is aimed at a younger demographic and kids should have a lot of fun with this adventure. If you are a Spyro fan you should still play this game no matter how old you are. If the game is properly marketed by Activision I can see this becoming a hot item for kids this holiday season. For the collectors out there if you want the whole collection there will eventually be 32 characters and each one will cost $7.99 or you can get a three pack for $19.99. That’s not a bad price for characters that will “remember” everything you do in the game and allow you to play on other platforms with your friends. If you haven’t liked the recent Spyro titles you still might want to give this a chance. I always enjoy it when a developer takes risks and thinks outside of the box. The development team over at Toys For Bob have done exactly that and it has resulted in a really fun and different experience.