Next-Gen Gamers is a feature where I explore the world of gaming through the eyes of my kids – literally the next generation of gamers, raised in a house that promotes playing together and sharing our time! It’ll look at games that appeal to kids more than adults, as well as those that are great for both, either through cooperative play or controller sharing.
By now, I figure most people are aware of the Skylanders series, and probably its latest outing, Skylanders Swap Force; they’re action-adventure RPG games that use physical toys which are, in turn, represented as characters in the game. On the surface, it’s a grand money-making scheme for Activision and the development teams at Vicarious Visions, Beenox, and n-Space; much like the recent Disney Infinity, playing to the full potential of the game takes considerable resources, since you’re expected to amass a good collection of these character toys.
We overcame our trepidation about this more more more mentality for Christmas this year, and bought the kid a Nintendo 2DS and a copy of Swap Force along with a handful of characters; when all was said and done, he set in with a group of ten figures – four of the titular Swap Force, and six more standard toys. It’s worth noting up front that the 3DS version of the game is an entirely different experience from that of the other consoles; we ended up caving and buying the PS3 version, as well, about a week after Christmas – partly so we could play, as well, but also so we could add the three included figures to
our personal the kid’s collection. Having had a chance to play both, the differences are numerous but both are worthwhile games.
The big thing I’d like to make sure gets across is that my kid loves this game; both the console and portable version, he laps up like crazy. From switching between his horde of toys to mashing through the levels and challenges, he’s beaming the whole time, entirely enveloped in what he’s doing. When he doesn’t have the 2DS or controller in-hand, he’s taken to playing out scenarios of his own devising with the toys themselves – an awesome hidden bonus to the buy-in process is that every character he plays in the game is also now a toy he has and can play with independent of video game time. They may not be action figures with moving parts, but he doesn’t mind at all as he loses himself for hours at a time imagining strange new adventures for his beloved Skylanders.
The game also includes a poster, showing all of the current series of Skylanders available, with a spot below to place a sticker included with each figure; this is displayed proudly above his bed, stickers affixed where he has them, and plans swirling in his mind about which characters to target for future purchases – a practice I encourage, as a wish list of figures makes for easy gifts in coming birthdays and other gifting occasions, or for other rewards (such as behavior and performance at school), not only for us, but for relatives, friends, and whoever else. With a wide variety of characters out already and more sure to be in the pipeline, this promises a font of continued ideas for years to come – and which feeds both video games and toy desires in a single stroke.
I’ll admit, it took us awhile to get past the hurdle of the game’s inherent costs; truth be told, though, the game can be played without paying in as much as we have, though some secrets and achievements (which, to be honest, aren’t at the top of my son’s list of to-dos in a game) won’t be accessible. Even now, we’re shy a few figures to open up everything, but we all still have a blast with the game. Even the two-year-old has gotten in on playing with the toys, so it’s really become a quick family staple for us, and while it’s been a pretty penny that we’ve put into the whole thing, I can easily say it’s been worth it all, and a pretty good value for what it is, as well.