Babblings from an old portal master

Okay, here’s a dream I could have seen having not long ago.  I get called into a large game studio’s office and am asked point blank what kind of game I would have them design.  The sky’s the limit.  They’ll make whatever I want.  As several high level execs sit around the table ready to take notes I quickly suspend disbelief and start in.

First, I’d want a game that I could play with my son.  I’d want it to have the basics of most RPGs: character leveling, loot, hidden treasure, boss battles, power upgrades, a healthy dose of dungeon crawling, and in this case be co-op friendly.  The sky’s the limit, right?  I’d also like it to have several distinct classes all with their own abilities and skill trees and…

At this point one of the executives cuts me off and says, “Mr. Carter, this game already exists.  It’s called Skylanders.”

Holy crap.  They’re right.

My son’s college fund in a box

We’ve had Skylanders in our home for about 4 months now, and to be honest, I couldn’t be happier with the game.

I’ll admit the game struck me as a bit gimmicky when I first heard of it.   The base game comes with a portal of power which you need to plug into your game console.  You then take one of the Skylander figures and place it on the portal.  Within seconds a digital avatar of the Skylander appears in the game and you are in control of it.  Seeing this demoed in the store is one thing.  Playing it at home is quite another.  Once my Skylander was in the game and I started exploring things, the gimmick was gone and I was left to enjoy a very well-crafted RPG.

Certainly the game is also a money sink.  Somewhere in the neighborhood of $50 gets you in the door, but if you ever want to play with more than the 3 starter Skylanders, you’re going to end up paying quite a bit more.   And certain areas of the game can only be unlocked with specific types of Skylanders.   So, if you’re wanting to experience everything the game has to offer, you will be spending quite a bit more than the entry fee.

Unfortunately, this did not work. Gravestorm, we could have used you, old friend.

Yet all of this is still a no brainer for me because here’s the thing:  This will be the game that goes down in our family record books as the one that made a video gamer out of my son.  Sure, it could have been Super Mario, Lego Star Wars or any number of other kid friendly titles available out there.  But his will be Skylanders–a very well done entry level RPG.  Already “hit points,”  “level up,” ‘boss fight,” and “legendary upgrade” are terms that have entered his vocabulary.  On several occasions I’ve found myself discussing the game and basic strategies with him while we’re in the car.   It’s been a trip (pardon the pun).  He has a Skylander poster on his bedroom wall with all of the (32) different Skylanders—something he stares at quite a bit when we’re in his room getting him ready for bed.

Indoctrination on my son’s wall.

Just some further random impressions I’d like to share:

  • Drop in co-op play is brilliant—anytime anywhere.  It’s that easy.
  • To be honest, this is a game I would enjoy playing by myself, but seeing how excited my son is to play, I generally only do so with him.  Heck, Daddy’s got his hands full trying to keep up with the games on his own list.
  • Kaos, the smack-talking uber bad guy is a lot of fun and elicits some priceless smack-talking from my son as well.  What a joy it is to sit next to your child on the couch while he’s yelling, “How do you like us now, you giant poopy doody face?”  That’s my boy.
  • The game’s difficulty slowly ramps up throwing basic puzzles, a few mobs and the occasional boss fight your way,  and before you know it there is enough challenge to give even the most seasoned veterans a  run for their money.

If you’re looking for a video game to play with your child, where the basics of RPGs are introduced in a family friendly way, I can’t think of a better choice than Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure.

Posted on June 15, 2012, in Game parenting, Skylanders. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Reading this post makes me miss my nephews, and makes me want to have a kid of my own.

    But this game seems expensive. Kinda like a trading card game.

    • Randolph Carter

      Unless you have children, I can’t see how this game would hold much appeal for the adult gamer. It is pretty expensive and you would no doubt blow through the early levels in an unchallenged stupor. However, throw (well…place) a little one on the couch next to you, see how much enjoyment they’re getting out of it, and it all becomes rather infectious.

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