It's been a little while since Spyro the Dragon captured the hearts of gamers and non-gamers alike, so the release of the multi-platform title Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure is a welcome addition to the franchise. What's not welcome in regards to the game, however, is that it'll cost gamers more than just their time to complete.
Skylanders blends the digital with the physical through the use of the game's Portal peripheral and its figurines. The figurines represent the game's many characters and the portal is how you get those characters (quite literally) into the game. By placing a figurine onto the portal, that character will appear on the television screen and ready for the player to control. Anything done with that character, including experience points gained and items collected, get saved to the figurine itself by treating it as a character-specific memory card. Should a friend also have Skylanders on the same or any other platform, players can bring their own figurines from home and place it on the friend's portal and thusly play as their own character on somebody else's machine.
While that sounds rather nifty in terms of trying something new (and it IS rather nifty), here's the rub: in order to complete the game in its entirety, players will need to go out and purchase additional figurines. The Wii starter pack gives players (in addition to the game and the portal) three different classes of character figurines: Magic, Water and Tech. These characters have access to all of the common areas in the game, as well as Magic-, Water-, and Tech-specific ones. Of course, should a player want/need access to a Fire-specific area, for example, then a Fire-based character will need to be purchased from a retailer. Amazon sells the figurines for roughly twelve bucks each. With a roster boasting 32 characters, that means players will be shelling out approximately $350 to buy them all. Nobody needs to be told that $350 is a lot of money -- especially on a video game.
As for the game itself, it's simple yet addictively fun (which will help fuel figurine sales). Playable as both single-player and two-player co-op, Skylanders has lengthy yet enjoyable levels with plenty of bonus material and extras scattered about. This gives players the feeling that regardless how much they've done, there has got to be something else to do or unlock within a level. For those wanting a more competitive play, there is also a versus mode where players can pit their characters against each other.
Players will likely find that combat in Skylanders is very simple -- almost annoyingly so -- and offers only a limited selection of actions. Motion controls are under-used in this title and while that's usually a good thing, Skylanders feels like a game that could actually benefit from subtle motion controls. Even in its simplicity, the game's combat is still quite fun.
Activision's Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure is a game that is as hard to put down as it is on one's wallet. Buying all of the characters will be expensive enough and the truly dedicated (and slightly insane) will find themselves spending well over a $400 on the game plus all of little figurines by the time all is said and done. For that added cost alone, this game can't be given as high of a grade as one might expect.
Final Game Guys grade: B
(Activision provided a copy of this game for review.)