Skylanders: Imaginators is a refreshing new twist on the toy video game franchise, and could be the best video game out there for kids. Its adorable cast, magical world, and new ability to make your own Skylanders, adds so much flavour to the recipe that was so well-rounded in the first place.
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360, Wii U
Developer: Toys for Bob
Distributor: Megarom Interactive
Release Date: 8 November 2016
Koas is back, as if he never learnt his lesson in the first place, and he is up to no good once again. The Skylanders now have to set out to take him down, but now with the help of new Sensei Skylanders, who are, in theory, master of the arts. The new game is divided into three toy categories, you have all the past toys which are usable in the game, the new Sensei Skylanders and their cool abilities, and the Creation Crystals, magical crystals that store your own custom Skylander you create. It is the first time in the Skylander series, that we never felt held back by not owning a set of toys. The only thing you cannot access without a set of Skylanders, is the Sensei abilities and the areas for each type of element of Sensei Skylander. In short, you would have to own one of each element Skylander Sensei to really get the most out of the game. The Creation Crystals are also vital to playing the game and creating your own Skylander, but the game is never locked behind a pay gate.
Imaginators takes a new direction in its story. Instead of a linear storyline where you go from one mission to the next, you can explore a hub where a landmark plays host to a set mission. Certain Skylanders like Crash Bandicoot, unlock exclusive landmarks to enter for their mission, and there is a battle system that starts when you walk into an enemy. This is very similar to an RPG battle, whereas you enter a battle, fight the enemies around you, and get rewarded with a chest. The entire experience from start to end is gorgeous, with a new clay-like engine that powers the game. Everything looks like something from a Wallace and Gromit film, with precise details, vibrant colours, and great voice-over work. It is the most refined Skylanders to date, and just when we thought it could not look any better, it has.
The new Skylanders are also the star of the game. Each one looks and sounds so different, with their own unique personality coming to life as you play with them. Every ability, every animation, and every line of script is quirky and feels authentic. Golden Queen’s cape flows around her as she summons scarab-like totems to attack enemies. Crash Bandicoot’s deaths all pay tribute to the way he died in the classic PS One games. Although the Skylanders are cute, you have to consider that each one will set your back R299. The four that come with the starter pack are not enough to keep you entertained throughout the game, as half way through, all the abilities would have been unlocked and it would start to feel a bit tedious. The game is so addictive, that you would want to buy more to keep the experience from feeling the same. The Skylanders toys have also been upgraded, as this year they are much bigger than before. We loved the size and quality of them, as they have become part of our video game showcase.
Skylanders level up the same way as the past titles by using Persephone to purchase abilities with money you gather from the levels. This time however, things are easier as you can level up by entering the Skylander menu, rather than waiting until you were back at the academy to visit Persephone. Think of it like a direct line to her ability purchasing powers. This goes for all Skylanders both past and present. This is the great thing about the game as it does not lock you out of your own toys, even your vehicles from last year’s Skylanders: Superchargers will work in a specific racing mode taken from the past game itself.
As the series has grown, it has managed to stay a cut above the rest of the toy video games out there, without ever needing to rely on famous brands and heroes like LEGO: Dimensions, and we applaud Activision in this. The Skylanders name has been set in stone, and it is combination of its light-hearted story and uncomplicated gameplay that makes it so much fun. Saying that, Imaginators does get tough at times especially with its new puzzles and some rather harsh platforming. Newcomers of the series might find the mid-tier difficulty a bit tough to handle at first, so we recommend that the inexperienced gamers start out on the lowest.
Imaginators’ main selling point is its new “create your own Skylanders” feature, and the whole game’s new loot system falls into this feature. Throughout the game we came across chests by completing puzzles, finding them in missions, and even leveling up our Skylanders. These chests contained body parts, armour, swords, shields, magic powers, and more. Everything we needed to make our own Skylander was found while playing the game. Sometimes we got rare items like set pieces for a specific look, and often we just got simple things.
The Creation Crystals are used to create your own Skylanders, but here is the catch, you cannot delete the Skylanders off the Creation Crystal once it has been saved, it is stuck on there forever. This was a major issue for us, and probably the only thing that we truly felt was a disappointment. This means that once you have assigned your battle class to the crystal, then it is stuck on it, and the only thing you can change is the equipment, body and armour. Considering that an eight pack of these Crystals will set you back R799, creating an army of your own Skylanders, will be a bit pricey.
The custom created Skylanders don’t change the game, but everything you do to gather these custom weapons and armour, goes to waste if you don’t make use of the ability to create your own hero. Plus, it is so much fun to build them from the ground up, name them and send them to your phone through soundwaves for safe keeping. The Skylander you built also levels up and gains abilities, of which you also need to find in chests. Certain gear and weapons can only be used at a certain level too, so you will be making sure to play with them in order to use this gear.
Skylanders: Imaginators is the best toy video game on the market, there is no doubt about it. The game has some expensive additional purchases, but nothing in the game is held back by these, as the full game is there for you to experience with what you get in the starter pack. Every Skylander is loveable and the toy quality makes them worth the purchase. The kids will love the game, and the adults too, as the different difficulty settings makes it appealing to all audiences.