“Skylanders: Imaginators”, The Sixth entry in the toys-to-life “Skylanders” series from Activision provides a familiar gameplay experience for long established fans of the series whilst also introducing a few new features to entice newcomers to the pocket money grabbing sensation!
For those newcomers, The Skylanders games require players to place real life toys onto “The Portal of Power” to use them within the games and level them up accordingly. Each game in this now long running series has added a new element to the gameplay with the draw this time coming in the form of character creation. Whereas previous entries in the series would encourage players (Particularly those of a younger and more suggestible ilk) to save up all their pennies and buy lots of the little collectable characters for use in the game. Whilst Imaginators comes with its own brand-new set of collectable characters known as “Sensei’s” it is encouraged for players to collect elemental crystals this time which can be used to create a unique Skylander from scratch.
I completed this review using the Imaginators starter set (Which was a steal at Smyths toy store by the way, costing me only £10, Brand new). Within the starter set you receive a copy of the game for your chosen format, a Portal which plugs neatly into your consoles USB drive (Unless you are playing on the Nintendo Switch, as a portal is not necessary) as well as two Sensei characters, The Golden Queen & King Pen and finally an elemental Fire crystal used for creating and customising a Skylander from scratch.
Imagine it, create it & go save Skylands!
The character creation aspect of the game is certainly one of it’s more enjoyable aspects. Creating an Imaginator starts with Choosing from a wide variety of “Battle Classes” including Swashbuckler, Brawler, Ninja, Quickshot, Knight amongst many others. This choice will affect the weapon type and battle style for the Skylander and is the only aspect that cannot be changed upon selection, so choose wisely!
Once this important decision is out of the way, a whole host of other customisation options are opened including the basic height and size dimensions of the characters, it’s head, torso and legs and the colour schemes for the above. Players are also able to choose from a selection of voices, sound effects and musical style accompaniments for their creation. All of this is topped off by choosing a catch phrase and “Aura” (An aesthetic effect including glitters, smokes and other random things to make your character the fairest of them all).
In addition to the standard make up of your characters, this is the first Skylanders title to introduce the wonderful world of Micro-transactions. Thankfully these are not necessary to the completion of the game and instead serve to gain access to additional equipment for your skylanders that you would otherwise need to find within the game.
The equipment affects the statistics of your Imaginators but unfortunately cannot be equipped to Sensei characters or standard Skylander figures. From armour sets through to back-packs, these items can range from a set of watermelon shoulder guards through to a teddy bear backpack. These equipment pieces can also be part of a set, encouraging players to collect all the pieces. Equipment packs can be bought digitally or in the form of small plastic chests (Also on sale in Smyths for £1 each. Side note, I don’t work for Smyths!) which can be tapped on your portal or Switch console to access the equipment inside. Unfortunately, these chests become useless after this point so I’m sure there’s an environmental charity out there who are just thrilled by the waste of plastic going on here!
The story of this game remains as standard fare for those who have played a previous game in the series. Kaos, the world’s most irritating antagonist, is back again in full force in an attempt to overtake Skylands and it’s up to Spyro (May he rest in peace) and the rest of the Skylanders to stop him. Standard gameplay consists of guiding your character through a variety of themed worlds completing various objectives along the way, collecting equipment for your Skylanders and coins to upgrade their abilities.
Collect them all!
As you can imagine, the target audience for the Skylanders games tends to be younger gamers who are prone to collecting things. Each entry in the series has come equipped with a variety of collectable toys to convince your parents to buy for you! Imaginators is no exception to this rule with a host of imaginator crystals, Sensei’s and level packs to go out and buy. Completionists will be pleased to hear, however, that none of these purchases are required for a platinum trophy and instead grant access to additional characters, levels and items, if you’re into that sort of thing!
New to the series is the inclusion of both Crash Bandicoot and Dr Neo Cortex as playable characters if you are willing to shell out for their respective figures.
Whilst this was not necessarily a popular choice for those of us who remember the golden days of Bandicoot before he dropped off the face of the earth for a few years until his recent resurgence in the N-sane trilogy, it’s novel to see his inclusion in the Skylanders series and he even has his own themed level thrown in for good measure.
In addition to the platforming levels, the races from the previous Skylanders title, “Superchargers” are thrown in for those who haven’t thrown away their plastic battle vehicles and each level features a selection of mini-games such as lock puzzles and a version of Sky-stones that has returned from “Skylanders: Giants”. If you’ve played triple triad in Final Fantasy VIII or Tetra Master in Final Fantasy IX, this is a simplified version of that. These little distractions serve to break up the simplicity of the gameplay and each one rewards you with new equipment for your imaginators as a reward upon completion.
Keep it simple, stupid!
For the most part the gameplay remains unchanged from previous entries, with the difficulty level being kept at a ridiculous low throughout. The combat consists of basic button-mashing, the puzzles are also simple block-pushers or similar and usually take no more than a few seconds to solve. Skylanders Is very much a series for younger gamers but having said that it can be fun to pick up and mindlessly push buttons as an adult after a stressful day at work! If you liked the other games in the series, it’s reasonably safe to say you’ll like this one too.
The game is good enough to look at but certainly nothing that makes the most of the hardware. The music is mostly unremarkable, although the customisable sound effects and catch-phrases are good fun to muck about with.
Star Struck Gaming Rating
You’ll be able to pick up a platinum for this game with minimum effort and unless you’re looking to spend a ton of money and collect all the figures and collect everything the game has to offer, you’ll probably platinum Imaginators in about 15-20 hours.
Starter sets are at a low price currently, as I mentioned previously and can also be found on Ebay for between £10 and £15. Pick this one up for the kids or if you’re looking for a quick and easy button-bashing fix.