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I have a complicated relationship with Skylanders. The 6-year-old in me evacuated his bowels when I first saw them. No surprise the 6-year-old I call my son did too. Hence, we’ve been collecting and leveling up figures ever since. My adult side recognizes Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure and Skylanders: Giants are pretty bland dungeon crawlers hidden behind the novelty of “toys come to life.” But the upcoming third installment, Skylanders: Swap Force – now, that looks like a video game someone actually put some effort into making.
Since the toys hog the spotlight, it’s easy to miss the fact the game itself has gotten a graphical overhaul, shifted its screen perspective down somewhat, allows your characters to jump and now looks to be going the route of a 3D platformer. The new figures – ones that this time have interchanging halves – may sell my son, but this may be the first Skylanders game I want to play for the purpose of the game.
The overhaul comes none too soon for publisher Activision, who will get some competition starting this summer from Disney Infinity (Yes, my son wants that too). Even without a rival, Skylanders was in danger of wearing out its welcome if it continued regurgitating the same isometric dungeon crawl year after year, while selling me marginally different toys along the way. Hopefully, this series’ creativity continues to expand as fast as its army of figures.
Still, I don’t relish the thought of more early Sunday-morning trips to Toys R’ Us to secure new figures or enduring more excruciating, frequent waits as my son pilfers through his drawer of Skylanders deciding who he wants to be next.
Skylanders: Swap Force is scheduled to release this fall.