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Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure - Wii Review

Game Info
Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure 

Wii | Activision / Toys for Bob | 1-2 Players (local multiplayer/co-operative play) | Out Now
Controller Compatibility: Wii Remote and Nunchuk; Portal of Power necessary
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Review
9th January 2012; By Patrick

Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure
is an interesting game for several reasons. The first is that, while using the Spyro IP that Activision obtained from Insomniac Games, the game is not a "Spyro" game; it is instead a "Skylanders" game. The second major reason is that this game is the first ever to use the "toys to life" idea, in which you buy toys in the real world and use them in-game. The game itself is sold in "Starter Packs" for Wii, PS3, and 360 (all identical games, graphical differences aside) and for 3DS. While uniqueness helps differentiate Skylanders from its competitors, how does the actual game itself stand up?

    When you first boot up the game, you must connect the Portal of Power accessory via USB Bluetooth, and then select a Skylander to place on the Portal. The Wii Starter Pack comes with Spyro, Trigger Happy, and Gill Grunt who represent three different elements. The Portal of Power might take up a fair amount of space (5.5" in diameter, 2" tall), but the response time between placing a toy on the accessory and the game recognizing it is scarily fast -- a full second at its longest. The toy must remain on the Portal at all times throughout the game, as individual character data is saved onto the toy so that they support cross-platform play. The same toys work on all formats, including the free online Web portal, and all experience, accessories, and more are retained regardless of platform.

    Upon starting the story, you hear that there was a great battle where an artifact that gives life to a part of the world was stolen. The Skylanders were sent into our world, and only we can save them. This setup is entirely predictable, however the storytelling is actually done remarkably well. Character voices should also be easily recognizable to kids, as many famous cartoon voice actors are present and accounted for. These two points mixed together makes this a compelling narrative to follow, even when you can see three steps ahead of the story.

    Every environment in this game looks absolutely stunning. It is not hyperbole when I say that some of the environments and lighting effects in this game could challenge even
Super Mario Galaxy 1 and 2. 2D art looks entirely hand-drawn, which is equally stunning. The entire game is just amazing to look at, and with many environments being destructible or at least changeable, there is extra motivation to see all that an individual level has to offer.

    The music in the game is also very grandiose. Activision and Toys for Bob hired Hans Zimmer to compose the orchestral main theme, with Lorne Balfe (who, while not as much of a household name, has an incredible track record) composing the in-game music. This combination not only works great in the context of the game itself, but I can justify keeping the Official Orchestral Score on my iPod. It's that good.

    As far as gameplay is concerned, the story is mostly a linear "point A to point B" system through the various levels. For those wishing to explore however, there is much more. Each level has a set of objectives. From exploring every area, to collecting various hats, to completing a successful speed-run of the level, there is more to do than there might appear at first glance. Thanks to liberal instructions and guides, players will not got stuck if they are just trying to complete the main story. However, some of the bonus exploration includes trickier puzzles.

    As might be expected with a game released right next to its own product line, there are incentives for purchasing more, as well as the game serving as a pseudo-marketing tool for the toys you do not yet own.
For starters, every toy has one of several elements, with every area having an assigned element that gets a type advantage -- and the game never lets you forget it. As you progress, you will pick up certain extra abilities for your Skylanders, even if you do not own that specific toy. The game will actually play a commercial for you about that specific toy and why you must buy it if it detects that you don't own it. This marketing push was fully expected, however I did not think it would go to the degree present.


    
Multiplayer is also present in two separate forms. The first is co-op, which the entire adventure supports. At any time, a second player can press the A Button and then set a second Skylander onto the Portal (yes, it's big enough to support that with ease) to join in. The second form of multiplayer is a Battle Mode selectable from the Main Menu. There are three options to choose from. The first is Arena Rumble, which is a 1-vs-1 fight. SkyGoals, the second, is effectively a sport where you have to carry a ball from one end of the field to another without getting hit. The last, SkyGem Master, is a mode where you must collect five gems while avoiding your opponent's attacks. Elements are back in this mode as well, with certain elements having type advantages over each other.


    The entire game might seem like a marketing push for kids to get their parents to spend all their money on toys, and if you boil it down, it is. However, the game itself is phenomenally good, with or without the marketing push. It also might be meant for kids, but upon playing it myself, being quite a bit older than the target audience, I still could not shake off an overbearing happiness and sense of enjoyment while playing. I would gladly recommend this to kids just as well as adults. Just keep in mind that your kid might suddenly want more toys!


29/30 - Excellent

Gameplay 9/10 - Linear structure, other areas to explore that are great fun, elemental differences and different toys vary gameplay greatly
Presentation 10/10 - Beautiful art and environments, musical score excellent, voice acting recognizable and helps players engage in story
Enjoyment 5/5 - Great for both kids and adults, difficulty never too high in main quest, optional areas have greater challenge
Extra Content 5/5 - Various multiplayer modes, every level has extra missions, tons of elements and toys to collect to unlock extra areas and abilities

Equivalent to a score of 97% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating) - Our Rating System


Review by Patrick



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