Wednesday, August 31, 2016
You can almost hear Queen’s classic anthem “Another One Bites the Dust” blaring out of Activision’s headquarters after finding out about the demise of Disney Infinity (I jest, I jest), but the Skylanders series still needs to keep upping the ante in a bid to stave off that plucky LEGO based newcomer. So far we’ve had giants, traps and vehicles so the next logical step seems to be the ability to create your very own Skylander. Exciting times.
Skylanders Imaginators works by giving you a generic Imaginator crystal to place on your Portal of Power, and once it’s on there you can choose from ten unique Skylander classes, then tinker with their name, voices, powers and appearance. It’s not quite on a par with some of the advanced customisation options you’d find in a good RPG but it does help you create a character that is entirely your own, to level up and upgrade as you see fit. You can also find gear of varying rarities as you play to customise and buff them still further. Not to mention the fact you can share your creations with other players.
Aside from that, Skylanders Imaginators looks and plays in almost exactly the same way as most of the other Skylander games. The twist this time is that Kaos has used a strange new power source to create an evil army of clones to swarm the land, only he also went and cloned himself and his duplicate is doing a better job of taking over than the original. So Kaos himself is willing to help you out, along with a number of other villains from the series' history.
There are 11 of them in all and they act as Senseis alongside 20 other more heroic Skylander chums. These Senseis all have unique skills and powers, plus they help to boost the available level cap of your other minions. So the more Senseis you have, the more powerful your whole team can become. Oh yeah, and you can witness the return of Crash Bandicoot and his perennial nemesis Dr. Neo Cortex too. Initially available as a timed PlayStation exclusive they’ll also be available as a separate adventure pack for Xbox consoles later down the line.
We went hands on with Crash, our own Imaginator, Kaos and a handful of others in blasting through some of Thumpin’ Wumpa Islands. As soon as you start it’s a real nostalgia trip back to the old Crash PlayStation games; with crates to smash, wumpa fruits to chomp (though they tally as extra coins to level up your Skylanders as normal) and a dose of TNT boxes to avoid or destroy. It looks lovely and is full of the island rhythm from back in the day, with a host of musical puzzles and Crash’s allies to chat to. As ever the whole level is littered with secrets and easter eggs to stumble across as well as an array of enemies and a boss to take down.
The whole game follows the mantra of if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, but is still fun nonetheless. It was nice to spend a while making your own Skylander and it gives players the opportunity to make a character that can easily fill a skill gap in their line up – or just make something super cute and fun. Still the other tweaks and levels are fun to tinker with but no great departure from what we’ve seen in the past. That’s by no means a bad thing, but considering the range of genres and big brands LEGO has in the pipeline it's making Skylanders look a touch dated.
Certainly there is still going to be plenty of fun to be had in Skylanders Imaginators, especially for those with a burgeoning Skylander backlog, but it’s starting to feel like the Skylanders world needs more of a major overhaul in order to keep things fresh. Maybe next time?
Skylanders Imaginators launches on 14th October in Europe and 16th October in North America.