The biggest toy video game worldwide? Skylanders Trap Team Review
Skylanders Trap Team Starter Pack is available for 3DS, PS 3, PS 4, Wii U, Wii, Xbox 360, Xbox One and Apple & Android tablets. Pricing on the starter pack varies from about R699 to R889 depending on your console. Check out Raru for the best offerings.
And now for the fun stuff:
The Skylander franchise has been on the forefront of the toy video game franchise since its initial release in 2011. The first title, Skylanders: Sypro’s Adventure, introduced the ability to summon characters using a “Portal of Power” into the game. These characters were actual toy figurines which utilized the power of NFC (Near Field Communication) to send data to and from the game using the Portal of Power.
The franchise has grown immensely since its debut, now on its fourth entry in the franchise, with a few dozen Skylanders out in the market. How does Skylanders: Trap Team match up to the games like Disney Infinity, and Nintendo’s non-dedicated Amiibos?
*Spoiler: Very well*
Skylanders Trap Team features a pretty decent adventure experience, where you are tasked in taking out the villains that have escaped Cloudcracker Prison at the hands of Kaos, the antagonist in previous Skylander titles. Along the way you will use your Skylander to play through 20-ish chapters while hunting down the escaped convicts and putting a stop to their leader The Golden Queen.
The game plays out at a reasonable pace with each level as fully realised as the last. You go from the ledges of the Sky Mountains, to the depths of the swamp. Every chapter is detailed and it never feels like you are replaying the same level again. The enemies you encounter are all themed to the chapter and elemental area you are in, and the boss fights make for a pretty decent battle.
In Skylanders, elements are everything. Each Skylander is categorized under one of 10 elements ranging from fire to dark and tech. Every figurine fully represents its element in appearance and in game attacks and abilities. Certain elements have the upper hand against other elements and the game parts of each level will also include a damage increase for your element.
The Skylander figurines are divided into three types. You get your Trap Masters who are powerful creatures that represents an element, these Skylanders all wield Crystal Weapons that can be used to break traptanium build ups in game, revealing extra treasures and places to place down turrets during Kaos mode. You also get Minis, smaller Skylanders that lack Crystal Weapons, and Traps, the newest featured toy added to the series.
A Trap is used to catch villains in game. These villains are scattered throughout the chapters and are often represented as boss fights. Once you have defeated a villain you can trap it using a Trap. This is to say if you have the correct element Trap that matches that of the villain’s one. Placing a Trap into the Trap Portal will catch the villain, this will be followed by a flashy cinematic and a unique sound effect that emits from the Trap Portal. A Trap can only hold one villain at a time, making this a costly feature if you want to catch everyone, but you can swap them out at the game’s main hub after each chapter.
Every villain can be played with for a certain amount of time once trapped. Each of them also have their own personality and skills. Broccoli Guy is a healer that will shout out at you from the Portal when your health is low. It’s comical and something you cannot find elsewhere, the sound effects often fade from the portal to the TV as you summon them adding that feeling of the power to summon a creature. It’s the fine details that make you want to trap them all, just so you can hear what they have to say while in the portal.
While not playing through the chapters you can test your skills in the Kaos mode and explore the main castle that you teleport to between missions. The Kaos Mode offers a tower defence hack and slash mechanic that sees you, and preferable a friend (it gets tough), face off against waves of enemies while trying to protect a chest. You can place towers to help shoot at enemies, but keep in mind that each Kaos Arena has a certain elemental requirement for towers. I got to one that needed a water tower and I quickly swapped out my Skylander, built the tower, and swapped back. This mode is won if you beat all the waves without letting the enemies smash open your chest. If the enemies do smash open the chest, it unleashes a monster that you will have to defeat to win.
The castle houses side scrolling platform mini games that you come across while exploring. These see you walking along ledges collecting gold. If you fall off the ledge you will get booted out and can never return. I found this mode tough while playing two players because with the jump lifts sending you flying into the air, the other player would be teleported to you and sometimes this will cause a disruption and make you fall of a ledge.
You can also purchase trinkets and hats from a vendor in the castle. These hats and trinkets change the appearance of your Skylander and at the same time grant you strength increases, defence boosts, and other stat changes to your characters. All these levels, stats boots, equipped items, and gold totals are saved to the actual Skylander. This feature makes it easy for you to take your Skylander to a friend’s house and continue playing with them there. You can also manage your Skylander in game, deleting the data from it and formatting it to factory settings, in case you want to go another route with your skills.
If you find yourself without the correct Trap to capture the villain it kind of makes you feel like you are losing out on the game’s content. The same goes for the Skylanders. Throughout the game you will find elemental portals that can only be activated by the correct element. This means that if you only have life and water Skylanders and you find an earth gate, then you will have to come back when you have gone out and purchased the right Skylander. With 10 elements you are bound to come across a portal in almost every level.
The thing that Skylanders does very well is forcing you to want to buy more Skylanders. Every Skylander has a level system that increases while you gain EXP in the game. You also then buy new abilities with gold you collect, and once you have reached a certain spot you will decide which of the two main attacks you want to branch out into, improving the one and leaving the other behind. The idea that you could be swapping out new Skylanders at any moment makes you want more. I managed to max out all three Skylanders abilities I received for this review, and I really wanted to get in the car and go out and buy more before continuing. I probably won’t play this again until I have new Skylanders to start training.
The feeling of missing out on an area because you don’t have that element, or you cannot trap that villain, will force you into buying new ones. It is all presented so beautifully that you know that the purchase will be unnecessary and necessary at the same time. You will gain a new ally to explore, level up, and master, and you will have a pretty new figurine on your shelf. But when does this end? I supposed you will stop purchasing new ones once you have tried out every element. I personally will attempt to purchase one Trap Master for every element, and one Trap for every element, but there will be people who will go crazy and buy everything.
The abundance of gameplay variations in Skylanders is plenty, but that all depends on how far you are willing to go with the additional purchases. The game is a bit easy for hardcore gamers, but there are harder difficulties to choose from which will put even the most experienced gamer to the test. It’s ideal for your kids who will find the game play challenging without being too difficult and likely love the “physical toy” aspect that comes with it. The package is there and it is complete, depending on your view on this genre. The new Trap feature is a great addition that allows you to play two different ways. Skylanders is a great package that can grow and grow and grow. It’s worth spending the money on.
Presentation is on point
So much to do
The toys are really good quality and feel like money well spent
Makes us sad
Could get expensive after a while
The game pushes for new purchases all the time
Disclaimer: this Skylanders Trap Team Review was conducted on a review set of the game. Marco is currently boxing his Skylanders figurines murmuring “my precious”.
I usually send out a weekly mailer with a recap of blog posts but also some personal anecdotes. If you want to know about competitions or just catch up in a more personal setting then you might like to receive the mailer.