E3 2011 - Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure first-look preview

It seems that Activision is moving to revive its peripheral market with Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure. And, to be honest, this is looking to be a pretty brilliant move indeed. Think back to when you were a little kid and all of those action figures you managed to collect over the years. What if, instead of having to deal with that bothersome “imagination” thing, you could plug your favorite action figures into the television set and have a battle between... oh, let’s say Darth Vader and Batman? Yes, we know. You would’ve eaten that right up. This is the main selling point with Skylanders.

Skylanders puts players in the role of a “Portal Master.” Kaos - an evil Portal Master - has banished 32 heroes (including Spyro) from their respective worlds and it’s up to you to aid these heroes in confronting and defeating him. Players can use a hero as long as they have that particular hero’s action figure avatar. The hero enters the game when the player places the action figure on top of the “Portal of Power” - a large plastic doohickey that plugs into your respective console. Likewise, every hero has specific strengths and weaknesses when it comes to combat based on their element. For instance, Spyro is an excellent brawler with his fire breath and dashing charge attack, while Gill Grunt (water element) carries a giant harpoon gun for ranged combat and has the ability to swim in water.

Gameplay matches that of an action-platformer with some minor puzzle instances thrown into the mix (e.g. moving blocks around to reveal a passageway, etc.). Killing enemies rewards your hero with experience, loot and accessories you can wear. Level progression and special items are all tracked on the action figurine. There are multiple worlds for players to enjoy; however, how much of those levels you can actually get to explore will depend on what type of heroes you have. For example, only water element heroes can bypass waterfalls and streams to reach hidden areas and earth element heroes can create rock bridges to cross large chasms.

Skylanders will be sold in a bundle kit that includes a “Portal of Power” (the base), a copy of the game and three heroes to start. Other heroes can be bought in bundles. The game can be played cooperatively with another player or you can pit your characters against each other in a competitive arena mode. Your hero will be compatible with all console platforms, so it doesn’t matter if your buddy has a Wii while you own the game on a 360.

With Joel Cohen and Alec Sokolow (Toy Story) writing the script and composer Hans Zimmer handling the soundtrack, Activision is looking to go all out with this new IP. Obviously, Skylanders is being aimed at a much younger audience but we’re still interested to see how well it’s going to do. Look for its release later in 2011.

Jun 7, 2011

Jordan Baughman is a freelance journalist who has written for the likes of GamesRadar and Gamer magazine. With a passion for video games and esports, Baughman has been covering the industry for years now, and even hopped the fence to work as a public relations coordinator for clients that include EA, Capcom, Namco, and more.