Tuesday 1 November 2011

Half term in a box ! - Skylanders Spyro's Adventure review


When the lovely people at Activision offered to send me a "half term in a box" pack, I was intrigued to see what it would contain. Well, the answer was a fabulous package for discovering the new Spyro game - Skylanders Spyro's Adventure - on the Wii. The girls had seen adverts for this and knew all about it so they were keen to give it a good roadtesting and discover all the lovely extra Spyro-themed merchandise included in the box !

Now I remember Spyro the friendly dragon from the original games but I was blown away by the technology behind this game which goes way beyond the usual realms of a video game. It comes with a portal, that you connect to your Wii, and a whole collection of toys featuring the characters from the game.

 By an impressive feat of technology, you select the toy of choice, stick it in the portal and, as if by magic (especially if you're a kid), it will suddenly come to life on your screen. The girls absolutely loved this concept of bringing toys to life and controlling which character is incarnated on screen. It certainly adds a whole new level to the gaming and I would love to see this feature added to a lot more games. I could see it working really well with other kid-friendly games featuring multiple cartoon characters, such as Littlest Pet Shop, SpongeBob, Mario, etc.

The plastic toys store your game stats (playing level, loot, abilities, etc) so you can take your characters to your friend's house, plug them into their portal and still keep playing right where you left it on your console at home with all the powers, loot, etc that you have amassed. Then when you get back home, the things you've done on your friend's console won't be lost either. This makes the plastic figurines seem more "real" and "alive" and is a much less frustrating way of progressing through the game if you want to share the adventure with friends.

Sophie was slightly concerned by the warning label on the box saying that it contained "cartoon violence" but it is designed for players aged 7+ and it's not overly scary because the baddies are definitely cartoonish and unrealistic. The game designers originally wanted to "toughen up" Spyro games, adding more gore and violence to appeal to over 16's, but eventually decided to come back to the friendly, playful atmosphere with a healthy injection of humour (that will appeal to the adults as much as the kids !). The atmosphere does seem slightly more violent and meaner than in the original games but it's still fine for kids to play.

The adventure itself reminds me of the classic fantasy hack-and-slash games (along the lines of Dungeons and Dragons fantasy roleplay games) but, fortunately for younger players, there are also puzzles to solve along the way and lots of loot and goodies to collect. The whole concept of the portal with the plastic toys also broadens the appeal and keeps younger players interested.

I can see this becoming the latest collectors' craze too as a starter pack is available with three figurines (Spyro, Trigger Happy and Gill Grunt) but the whole range comprises a whopping 32characters. That'll keep you busy for quite a few Christmas and birthday presents but don't tot up the total cost or it'll turn your hair grey ! You only need the three figurines from the starter kit to complete the main quest, but it's a shame to know that there is so much hidden content for other characters that you will only be able to access by buying extra toys.

The great thing is, even after the games console has been switched off, the kids can still play with the plastic figurines and use their imagination, as well as memory, acting out scenes they've seen on the game and making up new ones. Critics often say that kids playing video games turn into mindless zombies so I think this is a fabulous way of bringing the games back into the real world and making the kids really interact with them.

star rating : 4.5/5

RRP : £48.99 for the starter pack (game, portal & 3 figurines)

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1 comment:

  1. Sounds fun. Suitable for both boys and girls.



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