The video game/action figure toy combo that has charmed young gamers and collectors for the past couple of years is back with a new entry in the series! And this one has a new twist. Certain figures have swappable tops and bottoms so you can mix and match them for countless combinations! Skylanders is a big deal here at GamerDad, so here’s a big blowout review of both the Wii U and 3DS versions of Swap Force, with lots of pictures! The new game is also available for Wii, PS3, and 360.
The Skylands are a group of magical floating islands, and are protected by a group of warriors called Skylanders. In the main console versions of Swap Force, the evil Sorcerer Kaos is at it again. This time he plans on taking over a magical volcano on Cloudbreak Island. When the volcano erupts, it replenishes the magic in the Skylands. But Kaos wants it all to himself, so now it’s up to you and the Skylanders to stop him! Here is the box for the Wii U version, by the way.
Inside the box you get the game, a newly designed Portal of Power to place Skylanders on (not sure if the old portals will work with the new game), various trading cards and stickers, instructions, and three Skylander figures. You get two Swap Force figures (more on that later), Blast Zone and Wash Buckler. And you get a Series 3 regular figure: Ninja Stealth Elf.
Skylanders Swap Force plays a lot like the old arcade game Gauntlet, and it’s also pretty much exactly like the other Skylanders games, 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 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.
It’s how you switch characters that makes Skylanders unique. Other figures not included in the game 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 and Series 3 figures won’t work with the first two games, but old figures and Giants will work with the new sequel.
The new ‘twist’ in Swap Force are special figures that have a top and bottom half. You can switch them out for tons of combinations of figures. They attach magnetically to each other. The top and bottom halves of characters have different attacks, and the bottom half has a special mobility skill, too. You can see a picture of what it is on the lower half of the figure. Some can climb walls; others can fly or bounce high. You’ll mostly use these skills in special challenge zones that only open up when you are using a Swap Force figure with that same skill. Other locked doors have two different elements on them, so you have to use a Swap Force figure which has both those elements combined. Here’s a visual to show how it all works.
OK, here you have two Swap Force figures: Rattle Shake and Blast Zone. Rattle Shake is of the dark element, can shoot from his snake gun, has a tail attack, and can use his coily body to bounce high in special challenge areas. Blast Zone is from the fire element and can throw bombs and fly in special challenge zones.
But when you switch them around, now Blast Zone can use Rattle Shake’s tail attack and the snake can charge using Blast Zone’s boots. And now they both have two elements: dark and fire.
The 3DS version of Swap Force is a bit different, and the storyline is new, too. In this one, Count Moneybone, lord of the underworld, has come to take over pilot Flynn’s hometown, so now the Skylanders (also friends of Flynn), must stop him. The game is a bit more platform jumping oriented, as you can double jump in this one. Here is the box for the 3DS version:
Inside you get the game, a smaller Portal of Power that only works wirelessly with the 3DS, various trading cards, stickers, and instructions, and three new Skylanders figures. You get two Swap Force figures: Rattle Shake and Free Ranger, and a Series 3 Eruptor.
Using the smaller Portal of Power on the 3DS is a bit different, too. In past 3DS Skylanders titles, you could scan two figures onto the cartridge, and then play as those two characters in the game. If you wanted to switch them out, you’d have to scan two new ones between levels. But in the Swap Force game, you can scan all of your Skylanders figures and they’ll stay in your game for you to switch out at any time on the bottom screen, making it a true portable experience. You don’t even have to worry about changing Swap Force figures, as it’ll let you interchange tops and bottoms in the game, too. You can practically scan your entire collection of figures once and they’ll always be in the game! I’m not sure, but there may be a limit of four per element, but I don’t have enough figures to test that out myself. At any rate, it’s certainly improved from past 3DS Skylanders titles!
Skylanders Swap Force 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 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. They even got some well-known cartoon voice actors to play the parts in the game. The bad guy Kaos is the same voice as Invader ZIM, for instance. 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 Swap Force is a pretty cool new entry in the series.
Speaking of which, here are my big blowout reviews of the past Skylanders games: