After Lego (maybe sometimes even before Lego) Skylanders is the commodity we're most excited about in this house.
I wish I had been the brains behind Skylanders because I would be a billionaire right now and I'd be drinking my coffee out of a cup made of diamonds. Skylanders is the biggest money-grubbing racket around and I don't even care. I've drunk the Kool-Aid. I've worn the Nike sneakers and bought the T-shirt. I'm silly for Skylanders.
If you're not familiar with it (and if you have young children YOU WILL BE. SOON), Skylanders is an adventure game series (for PlayStation, Xbox, all that jazz). There have been three Skylanders games released so far -- Spyro's Adventure, Giants, and Swap Force. The fourth game, Trap Team, comes out next month (as in October), just in time for your kid to spend the next two months telling you s/he needs the new Skylanders game for Christmas.
Each game comes with a portal and a few action figures who, when you place them on the portal, become part of the game. So, in parent-friendly terms, it's like when you used to play Super Mario Bros. 2 and you could pick whether to be Mario, Luigi, Peach, or Toad, except this time you have a physical, real-world representation of your character who sits on a glowing portal that makes your basement look like a discotheque when you turn the lights off.
Each of the characters has s/his own abilities and deficits. It's like when you'd want to use Luigi for the high jumps and Peach for the long jumps and Mario, really, never. The character starts out very basic, but as you collect coins, you can buy upgrades to enhance your character's abilities.
The more figures you have, the more characters you can use in the game (this becomes a big factor if you try to play on the hardest difficulty and your characters keep "getting tired"; I went through 22 characters on a single level once because I suck).
The characters are the cool/costly part of Skylanders. You can't just "beat the entire game" with the three characters who come with the game. I mean, you can probably finish the story mode, beating all the big bads through the final level, but you won't be able to complete all the challenges and earn those stars. I NEEDS THOSE STARS.
In order to get those stars, you need characters from certain element groups to open certain doors. If you don't have an undead dude, for example, you can't open the undead door, therefore you'll never get that hat/winged sapphire/bonus mission map and you'll never fully beat the game. Ergo you need to have (at the very least) one character from each elemental group. The Swap Force game also has special doors that only certain Swap Force abilities can open, so you also need to have those (spin, teleport, rocket, etc.) represented in your cache. It's a money grab, but hell of a fun one.
I've been playing Skylanders Swap Force with my son since last Christmas. We eagerly await the release of Skylanders Trap Team. The way I look at it, we have so many characters already, we'll hardly have to buy any new ones for the new game. Hahahahahaha! False, because that's not how Skylanders works. Of course we'll need to buy seven hundred new Skylanders!
If you're thinking about jumping into the Skylanders fray, here are the characters we've amassed (you may want to start stocking up now; some of the older characters can be gotten cheap and they work on all the subsequent games. I bought my favorite character on a lark when I saw her on Amazon for $5). I've ranked the Skylanders characters in order from worst to best.
Enjoy this post? Click like on the Hammervision Facebook page and join the party.
Oh, and for more movie commentary and other fun, follow me on Twitter: @Hammervision
If you don't want to miss any Hammervision posts (and you will because Facebook keeps hiding us from you because Facebook is a butt), type your email address in the box and click the "create subscription" button. Our list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.