One of last year’s biggest holiday releases for kids is back in a gigantic way! Skylanders Giants is the sequel to the hit video game and action figure combo blast that took young gamers and collectors by storm. This new game features a different quest, Series 2 figures of some of the original cast with different abilities, new characters that light up, and extra big giant figures that pack a humongous punch. Skylanders Giants is now available for Wii, 3DS, PS3, 360, and the upcoming Wii U (Wii and 3DS versions reviewed here).
The Skylands are a series of magical floating islands, and are also home to a group of warriors who protect this realm, and they are called Skylanders. In the last game, an evil sorcerer named Kaos took over, and froze the Skylanders into miniature statues and sent them to our world! With the return of the Giant Skylanders, the forces of good sense that evil has returned. Now it’s up to YOU to place these statues on the Portal of Power, bring them back to life, and send them back to the Skylands to fight against evil!
There are two ways to buy Skylanders Giants. There is a package that comes with the game, the Portal of Power, and three figures. But if you already own the portal from the first game, you can opt to buy the Portal Owners pack, which doesn’t include the portal. However, the portal I got with the Wii version of Giants lets you plug it in with a USB cord instead of syncing it up wirelessly to the Wii, making setup easier. I should mention you can also use codes of your figures online on the PC to play games in Skylanders Universe. Here’s what’s included with the Wii version of the Starter Pack:
Skylanders Giants plays a lot like the old arcade game Gauntlet, and it’s also pretty much exactly like the first game, too. You move the Skylanders and friends around various areas and mazes, defeating hordes of enemies, solving basic block pushing puzzles, and collecting hidden rare treasures. Each character has two different attacks, and they are based on elements like fire, water, earth, wind, magic, undead, and so on. Some secret doors can only be opened by Skylanders of that same element, too. As you defeat enemies, you’ll earn experience points that will help you gain levels and increase your stats. Collect treasures to buy upgrades and new attacks and moves from Persephone the fairy.
It’s how you switch characters that makes Skylanders unique. Other figures not included in the game (more than 30 in all) are sold separately, but you don’t need ALL of them to enjoy the titles. To play as a character, just place it on the Portal of Power pedestal. It’ll light up the same color as the element that the character represents, and you can then play as it in the game! When you want to switch characters, just remove the first and place another, and the switch is instantaneous. Two can play at the same time; just put another character on the pedestal!
Here’s the really cool part: Any gold and experience points you collect during the game is saved onto the figure. Then you can take it to a friend’s house and play on their console. It doesn’t matter if they have a different game system, your figure will work on any of them. Note that new characters, Series 2 figures, and Giants won’t work with the original game, but old figures will work with the new sequel.
The ‘big’ new thing in Skylanders Giants are the giant figures, who are about twice as big as the regular ones. These behemoths have stronger attacks, can lift heavy rocks, and other feats of strength to open passages and collect goodies. But the giants are slower, too, and can’t fit into small spaces. There is one giant for each element represented in the game. Other new aspects include Series 2 characters from the original game, with new abilities and higher level caps. Plus there are some figures that light up when you place them on the Portal of Power!
The 3DS version of Skylanders is a bit different, though. The game is more like a 3-D platformer, as you can jump in this one. The story is different, too. Pirates have come to Skylands to plunder, and now you must summon Skylanders and Giants to stop them. Like the Wii version, you can get the Starter Pack or the Portal Owners Pack. Here is what is included with the Starter Pack:
Using the smaller Portal of Power on the 3DS is different, too. You can only place one figure on the pedestal at a time, and you use the infrared signal to put it in the game. You must have two action figures to play the 3DS version, and can switch between the two on the touch screen at any time. Once you read the figures on the pedestal, you can take the game with you and not have to worry about carrying everything else. It’ll read info saved onto the figure, but I don’t think you can save info to the figure on the 3DS version. Which is fine because that aspect was a little confusing in the original 3DS title.
Skylanders Giants is rated E-10 with an ESRB descriptor of Cartoon Violence. While you do blast monsters with fireballs, water, and other projectiles, enemies just disappear when defeated. Reading skill isn’t totally necessary for the Wii version as everyone has spoken voices, but not in the 3DS game. Parents may need to help set everything up initially.
But the real question about if this game is suitable for your kids has nothing to do with the gameplay. These games require the Portal of Power pedestal and the figures to play. If your kids break or lose any of these items, they won’t be able to play the game. So ask yourself this question: Are your kids good at keeping up with, taking care of, and not losing their toys? If the answer is yes, then they are ready for this game.
I’m surprised they haven’t made a cartoon yet to go along with the game, the characters and setting of Skylanders sound like something right off Nickelodeon’s NickToons. I think they even got some well-known cartoon voice actors to play the parts in the game. I swear the bad guy sounds just like Invader ZIM. And I think kids will like that. Plus, kids can play it together with their friends, siblings, and even parents! So despite its gimmicky-ness, Skylanders Giants is a pretty cool sequel and is OK in my book!
Meet the Skylanders!
OK now we’ll take a look at some of the new Skylanders figures that come with the games!
First let’s take a look at a Giant! He’s included in both the Wii and 3DS Starter Packs. In the game he can lift rocks and bash enemies with powerful slam attacks.
The neat thing about Tree Rex is that he lights up when you put him on the Portal of Power. Here’s what he looks like:
The other figure included with both the Wii and 3DS versions is Cynder. At first I thought she was Spyro, but she’s actually another purple dragon affiliated with the Undead element and she shoots lightning bolts instead of fire. I think Cynder was in some of the old Spyro games, but I can’t remember. Cynder was a character in the original Skylanders, and this is her Series 2 version.
This new Skylander eagle guy is of the Wind element, and is included in the Wii Starter Pack. He carries a vacuum gun that can suck in things and blast out bursts of air. He reminds me of Storm Eagle from Mega Man X.
Punch Pop Fizz
This other new critter is exclusive to the 3DS version. He’s a magic type and loves to use potions. He’ll throw exploding beakers at enemies, but can also drink a concoction that temporarily turns him into a powerful frenzied fighter, like Jekyll and Hyde. I’m not sure what’s so different about Punch Pop Fizz as opposed to regular Pop Fizz, though (sold separately).
This final part of my gigantic Skylanders Giants blowout has nothing to do with the new games, just some figures that are in my collection that I wanted to brag about.
The first one is a little Sidekicks character. These were only available as a mail-in promotion when you bought certain Frito-Lay products. You can read the original article here. There were four you could choose from. I picked the ninja one because I thought the bigger ninja lady Skylander was cool. I wanted to get the others, but when I went back to the store, all the chips with that promotion on it were gone! That was quick! The sidekick figure I got isn’t as well made as the original figures, as it was bent over when it came in the mail. You need to have another main character on the pedestal, but when you put the Sidekick on at the same time, the little character will follow the other one around. Not sure what it does, but it’ll work with both the original game and Giants.
And last, here’s a special shiny silver repaint of the original Spyro figure. I got it at a Skylanders Giants press event meeting at this past year’s E3. You can read about that here. When they gave these out, they said they would expect to see lots of these on Ebay in a couple of days. Well I’m not selling mine on Ebay, but I probably will keep it in the box!
And that’s all for now! Hope you enjoyed my gigantic Skylanders Giants blowout! You can read last year’s article about the original game here. –Cary