Game Review

Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Jon Wahlgren

The great gig in the sky

There's something magical about a good toy. Be it an action figure, doll, transforming truck, projectile-spitting dragon or a wooden block, it doesn't matter how many removable parts or points of articulation they have once burrowed into your imagination and destined for Great Adventure along with the rest of the toy chest. Your world becomes their illustrious domain: defying the mountainous bookshelf, crashing through the man-eating garden.

Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure taps into that spirit of excitement and all-powerful god role thanks to its unique hook that makes immobile figurines on the table spring to life and personality on your gaming platform of choice. Is it all just an elaborate ploy to get parents to spend hundreds of dollars? Well yes, of course it is, but so are Transformers, Barbie and G.I. Joe. And that doesn't stop them, or Skylanders, from being plenty of good fun.

When talking about Skylanders it's difficult to say where one part ends and another begins seeing as the physical and digital are so intricately woven together and dependent on each other. The premise of the whole soirée puts you in the role of Portal Master, able to summon the titular creatures into their world by placing their plastic figure on the wireless Power Portal. The 3DS version is actually a separate adventure altogether, with a new antagonist named Hektor intent on blanketing the Radiant Isles with his darkness, and a shift away from roaming action-RPG to a platforming one.

Skylanders on 3DS plays a lot like PlayStation platformers of yore, evoking a strong Crash Bandicoot feel to the linear and secret-filled stages. Each stage has a number of challenges that each earn a crystal, and once you fulfill the criteria of one you're hit with an ominous "Hektor is coming!" and a countdown timer starts, giving you until it ends to exit the stage. More time can be added by picking up clocks scattered around the stage or dropped by enemies, and as the timer approaches zero Hektor gets more and more aggressive, flinging damaging lightning bolts at you from above. You can continue to complete challenges once Hektor begins his approach, which gives a sometimes fun extra edge to completing stages. Character levelling is also different in the portable version: collecting Radiance littered about stages boosts your bar at the end of the stage, unlike collecting orbs from defeated enemies on Wii, and daily elemental bonuses encourage using the appropriate Skylander type for Radiance boosts. The attacks you start out with are different as well, making low-level play with the same Skylander feel different between the 3DS and console games.

As Portal Master, you're able to seamlessly transport Skylanders from our world, where they are frozen, into theirs, where they come alive, by lining up the IR sensors on the 3DS and Power Portal, placing a figurine on the portal and summoning them in the overworld hub. The switch is nigh-instant and allows you to hold two summoned Skylanders who stick around until switched out, letting you leave the Power Portal at home and play elsewhere.

What’s neat about the toys is that your character’s statistics save to the toys themselves via the Power Portal and can be dropped in to any other Skylander game across all platforms — if you have the 3DS version and a friend has the Wii, PS3 or Xbox 360 version you’re able to summon your custom Skylander into their game, and all stat gains made elsewhere carry over back to your platform of choice when you return. Besides new characters, figurines can also add new areas and magic items, but those you will have to buy separately. It works very well and it'll be interesting to see where this technology goes in the future, especially considering publisher Activision's grip on the Transformers, Spider-Man and X-Men licenses.

A starter pack of three Skylanders comes with each copy of the game, and the characters vary depending on which platform you get: the 3DS version comes with Dark Spyro, Stealth Elf and Ignitor. Each of the 30+ Skylanders has their own special attacks, vital statistics and elemental type, so the 3DS pack starts you off with a Magic, Life and Fire elemental, respectively. These initial three are enough to get you through the main story mode and take on challenges that are only available to Skylanders of these elemental affinities, but if you want to enter a Water or Tech challenge, for instance, you’ll have to buy a Water or Tech Skylander toy. Since you are unable to swap Skylanders at will like on console, stages helpfully let you know which elemental types are useful before venturing in to let you plan accordingly. It all comes across as glorified downloadable content and the game strongly nudges you to pick up more Skylanders, but unlike buying drab megabytes you get a neat little toy with some neat little chips inside.

Whether you buy in to more figures or not, there’s still a good amount of content in the base set up — and falling down that rabbit hole opens up a slew of extra content. The campaign is unfortunately single-player only, but the lengthy stages and their multiple goals that you in all likelihood won’t be able to tackle in the first go through help give a nice and meaty feel to it. In addition, the affair is peppered with bonus challenges and explorative extras, giving the sense that there is always something else left to do.

There isn’t much strategy to combat, however, as character’s movesets are limited to a handful of attacks and special abilities, although the addition of double-jumps and dashing as standard brings a welcome sense of speed and agility compared to the console versions. Combat is simple but fun in a Gauntlet kind of way: easy enough for younger players to feel competent and diverse enough to keep the attention of a more experienced crowd. Challenge ramps up gently but noticeably, and the overall world is delightfully colourful and bouncy, marinated in a suitably goofy sense of humor.

Conclusion

Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure is a near-perfect conceptual marriage of toys and video games. While wallets may shudder at the thought of throwing down potentially lots and lots of money for the complete experience, what you get out of the box is a well-crafted adventure and world that kids of all ages can be excited about. Being a completely different game helps the 3DS version from being overlooked by those falling in to the world of Skylanders, and some may even prefer the portable's platforming over the roaming console version. The Power Portal is not used quite as intuitively here as on consoles, but for all intents and purposes makes the best of the situation. Something tells us this isn't the last we'll see of the Skylanders.

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User Comments (58)

Pikachupwnage

#1

Pikachupwnage said:

Why did this game get an 8/10 its a total ripoff You have to spend so much money to get all the content in this game. its good for kid but you could get kids 5 games with the money spent on this game for those stupid figures. usaully I agree with your reviews but not this time.

XCWarrior

#2

XCWarrior said:

The price of the game should not figure into the rating. If it's a good game, it's a good game. And there is this crazy concept called Christmas - it will go on sale and be cheaper. I plan to pick it up then for Wii. Just be happy a quality title came out in 2011. There haven't been many.

ChibiJib

#3

ChibiJib said:

Cool, I might get this, since I like platformers and the concept and gimmick sounds cool... I just hope my wallet will be okay...

Groovius

#4

Groovius said:

I spent countless hours saving every dragon in the original Spyro, and it remains one of my favorite 3D platformers to this day.

This ain't Spyro.

LordJumpMad

#6

LordJumpMad said:

Great Reveiw
Its a good game but not worth the extra cash.
I'll wait for this to go down in price or find a better deal on it

Aviator

#7

Aviator said:

I'm not really a fan of buying an incomplete game, and being forced to fork out more money if I want to complete the game.

If I was able to get 100% without buying anything, and they added DLC afterwards I would be fine, but I don't like this.

Samholy

#8

Samholy said:

the kind of game that will gain value over time. keep these figures, because in a few years, theyre gonna much rarer to get, and collectors will be willing to pay for this.

theblackdragonAdmin

#9

theblackdragon said:

Samholy raises a point i'd just been mulling over myself — what happens to this kind of game when, years down the line, all you have is the disc/cartridge? Stuff like this kinda makes me feel bad for the men and women who've put so much time and effort into a game that the fullest experience is dependent on collecting other things — it's not like DLC where anyone with the right amount of money can get a copy, either. Toys are notorious for being delayed or not in stock.

idk. something i was thinking about, was all. carry on~

WaveyChristmas

#11

WaveyChristmas said:

Once the price drops, i may look into gettting this...maybe
Meh, probably not. :p

Anyways, how is the 3D effect in this?

LEGEND_MARIOID

#12

LEGEND_MARIOID said:

Reviewers generally saying the game is good - they just vary on how much of a rip-off it is. Costs a large amount of money in order to be able to do everything in the game. Interesting idea, but huge rip-off. Not going anywhere near this

eviLaTtenDant

#13

eviLaTtenDant said:

Not a fan of the figurines at all. It's cool that you can take your stats to other versions of the game though.
If Activison one day decides to put out a complete version that doesn't require any gimmicky toys i'll be supporting it in a heartbeat. (Assuming it's not more expensive than your regular Wii game.)
Even if the whole toy set was dirt cheap one day i don't think i could get it because i don't want to encourage other games to rely on this gimmick.


So all the content is already on the cartridge and the figuringes just unlock it ? Or is the content stored on the podest you put your figurine on ?

komicturtle

#14

komicturtle said:

If I had the money, I would buy this game in an instant. I love the concept and the figurines will go perfect with my Mario figurines and my Pokemon figurines as well (I pretend that everytime I leave my house, they come to life and fight simarlarly to Smash Bros).

Shiryu

#15

Shiryu said:

Haven't tried the 3DS version yet, still hack'n'slashing away at the Wii offering.

Magi

#17

Magi said:

It's a great game and I don't mind the additional figurine purchases. As has already been stated, THE GAME CAN BE COMPLETED WITH ONLY THE STARTER FIGURES. **IF** you want to complete every single challenge mission, then you would only need a total of 8 figures; one of each "element". Your grand total, in a worse-case scenario, would be around $100.00 if purchasing at full price. I got the game and many figures as a BOGO deal at Toys-R-Us so a bit of smart shopping will result in much cheaper prices. With Christmas nearly upon us, I suspect there will be additional groovy deals.

The bottom line? It's a great game and this review is spot-on and fair.

SKTTR

#18

SKTTR said:

480€ for the whole game?

Sorry, I can use that money for a new console like the Wii U, or a new good pc, a new laptop, or the latest and best smartphone including a hundred good apps.

Actually I've played the Xbox360 version of Skylanders yesterday and it felt like some advanced Pokémon Rumble. My friend who got this had about 30 figurines. I would buy it with all figurines for 50€ but honestly, I can't help but feel they could have included all these monsters into the game virtually. There's absolutely no practical need for physical figurines - I thought it was more distracting than anything, always having to lay down your controller and grab on of those many many figurines to put them on top of that portal before you can play on.

I can see it will have fans, as two friends of mine already collect Skylanders stuff. They are the type of gamers who like to dig deep into one game, have pyhsical stuff for it, and play it for months. I'm different. I need variety. They won't ever persuase me as I never was a fan of the Spyro games to begin with.
I'd buy 10 brandnew 50€-retail games like Zelda, Kirby, Last Story, Pandora's Tower, Fortune Street, Driver San Francisco, Need for Speed The Run, Super Mario 3D Land, Mario Kart 7, and a few Points cards, and that's at least ten times more fun for the same price. At least, I mean 50€-Zelda alone is ten times more fun than 480€ Skylanders. :P

Magi

#19

Magi said:

@SKTTR Is that a euro currency symbol? If so, then I think 480 euro is around $650USD. Where did you get that figure?

The 3DS game is $70 and it comes with 3 figures. Additional figures come in a 3-pack for $20 or in singles for $8. The expansion packs run $20. I'm guestimating $350 if you're silly enough to buy them all at full price.

It's only money. :)

Popyman

#20

Popyman said:

As you can tell, I quite like this game. :3

It's a good year for old video game mascots getting fantastic games again! We need a great Crash game now. :D

Zach

#21

Zach said:

A lot of people are complaining that the cost of completing the full game would be extremely exorbitant, but from what I gather, you can play through the full story mode without buying all the toys - it's just if you want to 100% all the specific challenges that you'll need all the toys. It's still supposedly a great game anyway though, it's not like you're getting half a game without completing all the challenges. I get why it's frowned upon to make you spend so much dough for a game, but I don't think it's as big a deal as some are suggesting.

BulbasaurusRex

#22

BulbasaurusRex said:

Many of you are missing a major point of the figurines. They're not just a gimmicky way to transfer your stats between different versions of the game. They also double as traditional action figures. You can use them to play the video game, and then later you can play with them without touching any kind of electronic game.

cyrus_zuo

#23

cyrus_zuo said:

Have any of the commentators played this? I'm somewhat interested, put off by the price, but still interested. Just wondered if anyone else had thoughts on how the game played. Is it fun? (the Wii game was compared to Pokemon Rumble, which I thought was flat-out AWFUL, so that has me concerned, but otherwise it might be fun to pick up this and the Wii game...but not if they aren't worth it beyond the cool gimmick)

JeanLuc_Vaycard

#24

JeanLuc_Vaycard said:

Sorry I don't need extra gadgets. This stuff piles up, especially since I move so much. With the price and extra crap needed to sustain the game I will pass.

TKOWL

#25

TKOWL said:

Wow, was not expecting a good score. Might look into this when the holiday buying season is over, because my friend says this is a great game.

Wamtu

#26

Wamtu said:

I just looked at the Wii review and...gosh, I got serious deja vu just looking at this entire page.

WolfRamHeart

#27

WolfRamHeart said:

Sounds like a good game and I would love to get it but it is just too expensive. Even if you don't have to purchase all of the figures to get the full experience it is still very pricey for a single game. I'll just wait until it goes on sale. I already have too many games to buy this holiday season anyway. :D

ueI

#28

ueI said:

This sounds more my style than the wii version, but I'm still unwilling to pay for all the figures.

DavidRY

#30

DavidRY said:

I was wondering if the portal for the 3DS is compatible with the one for the Wii or are they completely separate? I'm not really planning on getting both versions but hey, you never know . . .

Supremeist

#31

Supremeist said:

Idk if I want this. Loved classic Spyro as a kid, but I'm just not digging the new design.

Skotski

#32

Skotski said:

People have to realize that this shouldn't be treated the same as an incomplete game that has DLC... this should be treated as toys that aren't sold with all the pieces in order to encourage collecting.

This shouldn't be treated so much as a game, as it is a game with toys (which is what it is, but people don't seem to catch that).

I can't afford it, that's for sure. But props to those who can! It looks fun.

Nintendo3DSLife

#33

Nintendo3DSLife said:

I <3 this game.Seeing the toys come to life on a system makes me feel like this is the future like wtf and now its on 3ds in 3d,I cant get enough of this lol.Its awesome.^-^

Nintendude92

#35

Nintendude92 said:

An interesting concept that is ultimately too pricey. They did a pretty good job of trying to mask Activision's love for DLC.

I'll wait until they run this into the ground before buying any version if at all, I'm sorry

Good review, just can't stomach paying for additional on-cart content

Shock_Tart

#36

Shock_Tart said:

im with everyone here, i work at walmart and i the price for the game for any system is kinda crazy, its a bit to pricy in my opinion as well but it interisting none the less.

Sam_Loser2

#37

Sam_Loser2 said:

One of the things I get annoyed about is when parts of the already-on-the-disc game are blocked off for you to buy as "DLC". Seems to me that's exactly what was done here, with the "DLC" jacked up in price because you get a physical toy out of it as well. But would these toys be worth the price without the game? No, they don't do anything! (Well, some may look pretty) And I don't think the addition of software to the statues validates the price when all the software does is tell the game to "unlock" a feature just as an in-game achievement could have.

Azikira

#38

Azikira said:

This game is incredibly fun and addictive. For all you haters who haven't given it a shot, don't knock it until you try it! :3

Henmii

#39

Henmii said:

Nice review and nice score! As I said at the Wii version review: I am very happy that the reviews are finally up!!!

pntjr

#40

pntjr said:

After watching the DX video on the eShop, I look forward to get this game!
Screw SM3DL, CS3D, MK7, or SG!
This is what i want for Christmas.

Question: Is this compatible with the Wii version? Like, can you share one figurine for two consoles?

zyxion

#43

zyxion said:

Im getting this for my b day I collect things anyway so this is right up my alley im sure with all the figures to collect ill be playing it for some time. The price is okay (for whats included) and the seperate figures are affordable cant wait to play it.

MeloMan

#44

MeloMan said:

I swear, Spyro and Crash need to stay back in the time periods they were best in. They were great platforming alternatives to Mario and Sonic back then, but I feel they're just "hanging on" now-a-days. JMO.

winter123

#46

winter123 said:

20 dollars off at Target this week (all versions). Your review pushed me over the edge. the other version(s) look boring and I'm looking for the more classic spyro experience. Your review pushed me over the edge. and honestly dark spyro is mad cool.

annelovelace

#47

annelovelace said:

I love the concept of this game and my 8 year old daughter has it on the top of her christmas list. I dismissed the idea of buying this as £49.99 seemed very expensive for a game where you have to buy at least 5 more figures to get the most of the game.
But for UK gamers if you have Tesco reward vouchers you can double up your vouchers and get the starter pack for £25, the offer expires on the 1st of Dec though so you have to be quick.The double up points apply to all Skylander products.

CrayonsRyummy

#48

CrayonsRyummy said:

i gotta disagree with this. there are expensive little figures u hav to buy in addition to the game and the reader stand. Not gonna buy this 1 nin tendo.
(Loved SUPER MARIO 3D LAND AMAZING!!!)
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Supereor

#49

Supereor said:

Wow. Is it just me, or do I have terrible taste in games? Here's the games I've wanted and got lately on my 3DS...
Poke'mon Rumble Blast (first few parts of game are cool, but what kind of Poke'mon game has no LEVELS OR EVOLUTION?!?! otherwise, simply terrible)
Sonic Generations (first level as classic has flowers and BG stuff that utilizes hauntingly quick movements, side-scrolling modern sonic feels weird, imagine running into spikes and enemies at top speed in 3d)
Spore Hero Arena (nothing like the original computer version, 2007-looking graphics, no offense, 2007 games, btw, this game is for DS in general, i got it the day i got my 3DS)
THIS GAME, S:SA (got it yesterday, no multiplayer made wanna fart in someone's lungs, console versions have mp, but why not this one? game is fun at first, i love the character advancement and each character has their own unique upgrades and abilities, much more Spyro-esque from my knowledge than console versions)
P.S. Poke'mon Rumble was THAT bad? Well, judging from PRB...
P.P.S. If you've got spare time, can you tell me what DLC stands for?
P.P.P.S. wow imagine using one of the 3DS's new camera features, stop-motion animation with the toys from this!
P.P.P.P.S. (annoyingly big comment, i know) at lvl. 5, in this game, my Stealth Elf got an upgrade that altered the appearance of her daggers. ???

SkywardLink98

#50

SkywardLink98 said:

@1. #2. is right, since prices change, items go on sale, they become used etc. prices can't be worked into reviews.

mayhem13

#51

mayhem13 said:

I hear alot of people complaining about this game being a ripoff but is it. Should it even be compared to your standard game. The pack you buy is a "starter pack". That alone absolves the game for any extra purchases you make. Starter pack not a full game. Its essentially saying, this is only the tip of the iceberg. If you want more, you can get more, if not, then it is what it is. The extra cost is the portal, figures, etc. Now some say, well why bother with figures. Some people really like having physical figures. So its not your normal game in that, essentially add-ons, dlc is more figures. Not only does it give you more gameplay, more options. You get a figure out of the deal. This whole thing was a gamble, an attempt at something new, so far, it worked. They are making alot of money with this game. But that doesn't make it a ripoff, no one is forcing you to buy the starter pack, the extra levels or the figures. I think its creative and if it makes them alot of money, kudos to them for taking a chance on a new idea.

Drawdler

#52

Drawdler said:

I love this version much better than the console version! I thought that was a total disappointment. You should all try this out regardless, it's a great platformer!

And to everybody saying "it sucks", give a genuine reason that isn't replay value. Sure, the game's short, but the other versions lack content too, not just this one...

Phle

#53

Phle said:

This game is actually a lot of fun and I think it deserves the 8/10 score. I recently got it and I love it. But I wonder, why does it say "2 players" in the game info? I'm pretty sure you would need another console than the 3DS to play with another person. You don't have to buy more characters, but getting one of each element is something you might want (that means getting 5 extra characters).

Kitsune_Rei

#54

Kitsune_Rei said:

It is a very fun game, and the figures are well-implemented with it. The console version is generally somewhat easy for adults, but still charming (and if you have a 3DS you can use all those same figures for a totally different and more challenging game). There is a website with free online play with the figures too though its largely kiddie games, its still not bad.
You will end up wanting to have at least 1 of each element, and won't help but want to get some favorites. Each character has their own flavor and gets different abilities as they level up (though a few are similar, there is a lot of variety.) The figures themselves are well sculpted and painted.
So yeah, this is an expensive game, and there can be some frustration finding particular figures, but they did put out a product worthy of the price. They could have copped out more on this, but they didn't.

katenkyoz

#56

katenkyoz said:

I agree in rating this game 8/10. Actually to me is more like 7/10, but the graphics and colors of the game made me rethink my 7". I bought this game and I thought it would be awesome (it was at first for like 10 hours), but the story is JUST TOOOOOO SHORT!!!! I passed the game in only 10 hours, yeah, that sucks because after you pass it there is nothing else to do but to collect the all crystals, which you will just waste more money for nothing.. I gave this game a 7/10 only because of the gameplay, graphics, and music (NOTHING ELSE).

themac2001

#57

themac2001 said:

i haz a question, how does communication from POP* to game work? And also, you is not going to carry a POP with you everywhere is you?

*POP=Portal Of Power

theblackfox

#58

theblackfox said:

I don't understand the review on this game, nothing has anything to do with Spyro and that was never mentioned. I just don't know what has happened to him and no one has ever truly explained why he is now appearing as he is now in this series and not being seen at the same time. What does graphics, the price and the story of this game have to do with anything if Spyro is supposed to be in it? this isn't a Spyro game...so why is it being called one? if this is supposed to be a game about a fun story with good graphics and interesting details with swapable figurines then that sounds great as it is...but ...it isn't that game your review seemed to describe at all...it's...Spyro...I see his name but he's not the game character of this world? what is going on?

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