skylanders

Ranking All Six Skylanders Games

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Skylanders fans haven’t been feeling confident about the series lately. Activision announced last year that there would be no Skylanders 7 release, the first year a new Skylanders game hadn’t released since the series began in 2011. We’ve been given no new updates on the future of the once stalwart kid-friendly franchise.

Yet the series has not yet been officially canceled (unlike Disney Infinity) and a third season of the solid Netflix Skylanders Academy series is due to air later this year.

For now fans can revel in the sales of older games and figures. Whether you’re a newcomer to the toys-to-life series or a reminiscing veteran, we’ve compared all six primary Skylanders games and ranked them from weakest to strongest.

 

6) Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure

skylanders

New Gimmick: Toys to life!

Best Skylanders: Stealth Elf, Drobot, Cynder

Once upon a time, toys-to-life was a relatively brand new concept. Activision and Toys for Bob looked for a recognizable, kid-friendly gaming hero to leverage. Enter Spyro, the sassy but good-natured dragon, who helped pave the way for an all-new action series using physical figures as a unique form of DLC.

Spyro’s Adventure may earn points for being the original, but it just doesn’t hold up when compared to later entries. That’s more a testament to how well the series has steadily improved rather than any glaring weaknesses in the original game.

5) Skylanders: Giants

skylanders

New Gimmick: Extra-large Giant figures

Best New Skylanders: Flashwing, Ninjini, Pop Fizz

A second Skylanders game the very next year raised a few eyebrows, but Skylanders assuaged many fears by seamlessly carrying over all previously leveled figures from the first game, creating an important precedent that cemented the series’ popularity for years. Out of all the games here, Giants is the safest sequel, not rocking the boat too much but still steadily improving on level and figure design.

The new Giants gimmick likewise wasn’t anything fancy. They were big, lumbering brutes who are almost more of a hassle to play than anything else, though the actual designs are fun, like Eye-Brawl who could detach his giant flying eyeball.

4) Skylanders: SuperChargers

skylanders

New Gimmick: Vehicles and racing

Best new Skylanders: Stormblade, Splat, Spitfire

By the fifth entry, Activision was looking at other successful family-friendly series to add a whole new dimension to Skylanders. They settled on Mario Kart-style kart racing. It wasn’t exactly a demanded feature by fans, and the result was a ham-fisted addition that didn’t feel entirely welcome. Vehicle segments were both forced (land) and optional (sea and air) and ranged from traditional racing to vehicular combat, 2D exploration, and shoot ’em up brawls.

The Skylanders themselves played a diminished role during the often annoying vehicle segments, and the controls left a lot to be desired. The on-foot gameplay was still solid, and the figures were decent. While it was fun seeing new remixes of familiar characters, like a gun-wielding Stealth Elf, it meant less new characters overall.

3) Skylanders: Trap Team

skylanders

New Gimmick: Trapping and playing villains

Best new Skylanders: Krypt King, Gearshift, Blackout

Ah, the inevitable Pokémon clone. For the fourth game, Trap Team lets you battle against a roster of fun new villains – and then capture them inside special trap crystals. Sold separately, of course. Playing as the villains was like a special powered-up mode and a lot of fun – particularly the way the captured villains taunted from the speakers on the portal itself.

You needed one of each trap element to play as all the villains, but you could mix and match them within their elemental types. Much speculation was given as to how the traps would be incorporated into future games, and the answer was, unfortunately, not very well if at all. Save for a few standouts the new Trap Master figures were generally disappointing, and requiring them to unlock everything in the game was irksome.

One standout feature that Trap Team added: tower defense survival mode. These were fantastic challenge modes, built for various levels of Skylanders, and a fun way to earn experience and level up outside the main game. They also played perfectly in co-op. For whatever reason, the mode was dropped in future games.

2) Skylanders: Swap Force

skylanders

New Gimmick: Swappable figures that can mix top and bottom halves

Best new Skylanders: Roller Brawl, Free Ranger, Spy Rise

The third game in the Skylanders series was the first developed by Vicarious Visions, instead of series creator Toys for Bob. Like the annualized Call of Duty series, Activision would appoint two studios to keep up with the yearly output of new entries. Vicarious Visions created an excellent entry that provided some of the biggest, best level designs the series has ever offered. Plus you could finally jump, a first for the series that opened up the level designs even more. But the real treat was the incredibly cool swap gimmick.

In one what is unquestionably one of the neatest concepts in a Skylanders game, special Swap Force figures could be taken apart and mixed together to create unique combinations. It was fun to play around with the toys, and also created a lot of really fun and interesting combos in-game, supported by new challenge mini-games and dual elemental gates.

Swap Force also featured Time Attack and Score modes for providing challenging replay value, and was the last Skylanders game to include PVP arenas.

1) Skylanders: Imaginators

Skylanders Imaginators

New Gimmick: Create your own Skylanders

Best new Skylanders: Kaos, Golden Queen, Ambush

It’s not fair to declare that Skylanders Imaginators was the first game to finally get it right, as each game had their strengths. But Imaginators combined a brilliant new gimmick, the best line-up of new figures, a fully realized loot system, and a more free-roaming overland map to create the best Skylanders experience yet.

The ability to create your own Skylanders was made possible by piggy-backing on Trap Team’s trap concept. Separate Crystals were sold that could house a single created Skylander. The Crystal determined its element, while you could select on of 10 different weapon styles. Within those parameters, you had multiple basic attacks, weapon attacks, and elemental moves to choose from as you leveled up.

All in-game rewards were tied to loot chests, which gave out new customization pieces, weapons, and skins for your custom Skylanders. There was an astonishing amount of loot to collect, making your Skylanders journey fun and rewarding, though they may suffer a bit from Frankenstein syndrome.

Imaginators couldn’t gotten by on that concept alone, but Activision also released the best wave of figures Skylanders had ever seen. The Senseis were all new, medium-size figures that had the best designs and gameplay we’ve seen yet, and the Villains let us play as our favorites from Trap Team as proper leveled figures.

Story structure and level design saw vast improvements as well. No longer were we stuck in a hub world, going through each level chapter by chapter. Now we could free roam around a board game-like overworld, exploring hidden secrets, taking side paths, and finding mini-games. It cannot be overstated how much this improved every aspect the game. If you can only play one Skylanders game, make it Skylanders: Imaginators.

horizon zero dawn

Nominees Revealed for the 18th Game Developers Choice Awards

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The 18th Annual Game Developers Choice Awards will take place on March 21 during the Game Developers Conference. The list of nominees for all ten categories have been announced, including Game of the Year, Best Narrative, and the Innovation Award.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Horizon Zero Dawn both lead with six nominations each, including Game of the Year. Nier: Automata, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, and Cuphead follow with three nominations each. Super Mario Odyssey received two nominations.

The nominees are selected by the International Choice Awards Network, which is comprised of game creators.

The other big annual gaming award show, The Game Awards, took place last month. Nominees and winners were selected by both game creators and journalists. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild took home Game of the Year, winning three categories total. Horizon Zero Dawn was nominated six times but didn’t win any categories.

Here is the full list of nominees for the 18th Game Developers Choice Awards.

BEST AUDIO
Cuphead (StudioMDHR)
Nier: Automata (PlatinumGames / Square Enix)
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice (Ninja Theory)
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Nintendo EPD / Nintendo)
Horizon Zero Dawn (Guerrilla Games / Sony Interactive Entertainment)

BEST DEBUT
Team Cherry (Hollow Knight)
Sidebar Games (Golf Story)
StudioMDHR (Cuphead)
Infinite Fall (Night in the Woods)
Jason Roberts / Buried Signal (Gorogoa)

BEST DESIGN
Super Mario Odyssey (Nintendo EPD / Nintendo)
Horizon Zero Dawn (Guerrilla Games / Sony Interactive Entertainment)
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG Corporation)
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Nintendo EPD / Nintendo)
Nier: Automata (PlatinumGames / Square Enix)

BEST MOBILE GAME
Reigns: Her Majesty (Nerial / Devolver Digital)
Hidden Folks (Adriaan de Jongh and Sylvain Tegroeg)
Monument Valley 2 (ustwo games)
Gorogoa (Jason Roberts / Buried Signal / Annapurna Interactive)
Bury Me, My Love (The Pixel Hunt / Figs / ARTE France / Playdius)

INNOVATION AWARD
Gorogoa (Jason Roberts / Buried Signal / Annapurna Interactive)
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Nintendo EPD / Nintendo)
What Remains of Edith Finch (Giant Sparrow / Annapurna Interactive)
Everything (David OReilly / Double Fine Productions)
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG Corporation)

BEST NARRATIVE
Night in the Woods (Infinite Fall / Finji)
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice (Ninja Theory)
What Remains of Edith Finch (Giant Sparrow / Annapurna Interactive)
Horizon Zero Dawn (Guerrilla Games / Sony Interactive Entertainment)
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus (MachineGames / Bethesda Softworks)

BEST TECHNOLOGY
Destiny 2 (Bungie / Activision)
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice (Ninja Theory)
Assassin’s Creed: Origins (Ubisoft Montreal / Ubisoft)
Horizon Zero Dawn (Guerrilla Games / Sony Interactive Entertainment)
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Nintendo EPD / Nintendo)

BEST VISUAL ART
Persona 5 (P-Studio / Atlus)
Cuphead (StudioMDHR)
Horizon Zero Dawn (Guerrilla Games / Sony Interactive Entertainment)
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Nintendo EPD / Nintendo)
Night in the Woods (Infinite Fall / Finji)

BEST VR/AR GAME
Superhot VR (SUPERHOT Team)
Star Trek: Bridge Crew (Red Storm Entertainment / Ubisoft)
Lone Echo (Ready at Dawn / Oculus Studios)
Resident Evil 7: Biohazard (Capcom)
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR (Bethesda Game Studios / Bethesda Softworks)

GAME OF THE YEAR
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG Corporation)
Nier: Automata (PlatinumGames / Square Enix)
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Nintendo EPD / Nintendo)
Horizon Zero Dawn (Guerrilla Games / Sony Interactive Entertainment)
Super Mario Odyssey (Nintendo EPD / Nintendo)

 

super gamepad

Super Gamepad is a Wireless Controller for the SNES Classic

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My Arcade has revealed a new wireless controller, built specifically for the SNES Classic Edition. It’s called the Super Gamepad, and it’s available now through Amazon and the My Arcade website for $24.99.

“The Super Gamepad is the best of both worlds – it features the nostalgic look and feel of the classic controller retro fans love while also updating it for the modern world with wireless functionality and improved ergonomics,” said Crystal Dugan, My Arcade’s Marketing Manager. “We’ve even added an intuitive TURBO feature that is easy to program during play, and a convenient HOME button feature that allows you to switch games and access the main menu directly from your controller. Now you can enjoy the games you loved without the wires.”

The Super Gamepad seemingly fixes two of the SNES Classic Edition’s biggest problems: wire length on the included controllers, and having to physically hit the reset button on the console to switch games. It’s designed with the look and aesthetic of the original SNES controller, but with a more ergonomic design.

As a bonus, the Super Gamepad is also compatible with the NES Classic Edition, as well as Virtual Console titles on the Nintendo Wii and Wii U. It features 75 hours of battery life on two AAA batteries. The wireless function works up to 25 feet away.

My Arcade is gaming accessories manufacturer that specializes in retro gaming. They previously developed a similar wireless controller for the NES Classic Edition.

game of the year

Pixelkin’s 2017 Game of the Year

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Sometimes our favorite game of the year comes as a complete surprise. Not this year. We proudly declare The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild as Pixelkin’s 2017 Game of the Year.

Breath of the Wild was one of the most anticipated games of the year. Not only was it the first 3D Zelda since 2011’s Skyward Sword on the Wii, but it was also a launch title for the Nintendo Switch, which has become a huge success for Nintendo.

The story reinforces themes of failure and redemption. Link wakes up to a bleak Hyrule where he was defeated a century ago, guided by the spirits and voices of the past. Monsters roam free, and a malevolent force, Ganon, swirls ominously around the ruins of Hyrule Castle. You could head there right after acquiring the glider and completing the wonderfully crafted opening hours atop the plateau, or strike off in any direction and explore.

Most open world games feature post-apocalyptic hellscapes, mature writing, and violent action. But this is Nintendo. Breath of the Wild features tropical beaches, staggering cliffs, dense jungles, and dangerous volcanoes. The world still feels like Hyrule, yet it reaches that perfect compromise between expansive and densely packed with hidden secrets and treasures.

Breath of the Wild boldly breaks many of the standard Zelda conventions, most notably the dungeon design. Instead of a steady progression of marquee dungeon crawls, Link can find over 100 shrines scattered around the world. These shrines cleverly employ challenging physics-based puzzles akin to levels in Portal using the several excellent tools you have at your disposal, such as magnetizing blocks and freezing water.

Completing shrines unlocks additional health and stamina, making it an important and fun side activity and a great excuse to explore a world stuffed with things to do. Shield surf down cliffs, hunt gigantic dragons, search for ingredients to upgrade your gear, discover hundreds (!) of Korok seeds to expand your inventory, take selfies in front of shooting stars, and tackle the mini-dungeons within the four Divine Beasts to weaken Ganon’s hold.

Nintendo Switch

Breath of the Wild was the vanguard for one of Nintendo’s best years in recent memory. It’s not every year we get a new Nintendo console, new Mario, and new Zelda, not to mention well-received sequels for Splatoon and Xenoblade Chronicles.

After some very lackluster console cycles in the Wii and Wii U, Nintendo has come roaring back, and that’s good for gaming, and especially gaming families. Breath of the Wild is single-player only, but remains a wonderfully enjoyable game for the family to gather around, between the cartoony art and creature designs, the physical combat system, and the story of courage and perseverance. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is destined to enter the pantheon of all-time greatest games, and easily warrants our Game of the Year for 2017.

black friday

All the Biggest Black Friday Digital Game Sales

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You know what’s great about digital game shopping on Black Friday? You don’t even have to put on pants. It’s time to reap the benefits of patiently waiting for that game you’ve been wanting to go on sale. We’ve compiled all the biggest digital gaming deals of the season right here, from PC to Xbox. Note that every Black Friday Sale save Nintendo’s ends on Tuesday, November 28.

Steam

Steam blows everyone out of the water as usual. In addition to the usual 50% discounts for big, older titles like Grand Theft Auto V, Fallout 4, and The Witcher 3, you can also get more recent games like Wolfensetin 2, Civilization VI, and ARK: Survival Evolved. The Steam Link, that little device that lets you stream games from your PC to your TV, has been discounted 90%, down to $4.99.

Sale ends November 28.

  • Steam Link $4.99 (90% off)
  • Asssassin’s Creed Origins $49.79 (17% off)
  • Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus $29.99 (50% off)
  • Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands $29.99 (50% off)
  • Sid Meier’s Civilization VI $29.99 (50% off)
  • ARK: Survival Evolved $29.99 (50% off)
  • South Park: The Fractured But Whole $44.99 (25% off)
  • XCOM 2: War of the Chosen $29.99 (25% off)
  • Dishonored: Death of the Outsider $14.99 (50% off)
  • Dishonored 2 $19.99 (50% off)
  • Prey $19.99 (50% off)
  • Fallout 4: Game of the Year Edition $29.99 (50% off)
  • Deus Ex: Mankind Divided $8.99 (85% off)

GOG

If you like a little more control and ownership over your own digital PC gaming library, GOG is your jam. You’ll find pretty much the exact same deals as Steam, but with an emphasis on older classic PC titles and bundle deals. If you spend at least $15, you’ll get Starcrawlers for free.

Sale ends November 28.

  • Heroes of Might and Magic V: Bundle $4.99 (75% off)
  • Torment: Tides of Numenera $22.49 (50% off)
  • Tyranny – Commander Edition $17.99 (60% off)
  • Divinity: Original Sin: Enhanced Edition $13.59 (66% off)
  • Divinity: Original Sin 2 $40.49 (10% off)

Origin

If you want to play most EA games on the PC, you’ll need to go through Origin. Black Friday deals are up to 75% off, though these are mostly older titles. Highlights include Titanfall 2, Battlefield 1, and The Sims 4 for $9.99 each.

Sale ends November 28.

  • Titanfall 2 $9.99 (50% off)
  • The Sims 4 $9.99 (50% off)
  • Battlefield 1 $19.99 (50% off)
  • Mass Effect Andromeda $19.99 (50% off)
  • Star Wars Battlefront Ultimate Edition $14.99 (50% off)
  • Unravel $9.99 (50% off)

Nintendo eShop

Don’t get too excited. There are some good deals here but you won’t exactly find Super Mario Odyssey or The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on sale. This is the first holiday season with the Switch, and Nintendo isn’t about to put any of its new stuff on sale. There are some solid 3DS deals here, however. Note that if you are a My Nintendo member (which you should be) you can earn Gold Points on purchases.

Sale ends December 11.

Switch

  • 1-2-Switch $39.99 (20% off)
  • Super Bomberman R $39.99 (20% off)
  • LEGO NINJAGO Movie Video Game $41.99 (30% off)

3DS

  • Bravely Default $27.99 (30% off)
  • Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove $19.99 (20% off)
  • Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call $19.99 (50% off)
  • Paper Mario: Sticker Star $27.99 (30% off)
  • Story of Seasons $14.99 (50% off)

Wii U

  • Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove $19.99 (20% off)
  • Axiom Verge $9.99 (50% off)
  • LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens $9.99 (50% off)

PlayStation Store

The PlayStation Black Friday sale has deals up to 50% off. If you’re a PS Plus subscriber, you get an additional 10% discount. You can find big releases from this year already down to 50%, such as Horizon Zero Dawn and Uncharted: The Lost Legacy.

Sale ends November 28.

  • EA Family Bundle (Need for Speed, Plants vs. Zombies 2, Unravel) $15.99 (60% off)
  • Need for Speed Payback $35.99 (40% off)
  • Assassin’s Creed Origins $41.99 (30% off)
  • Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus $29.99 (50% off)
  • South Park: The Fractured But Whole $41.99 (30% off)
  • Dishonored: Death of the Outsider $14.99 (50% off)
  • Fallout 4: Game of the Year Edition $29.99 (50% off)
  • Destiny 2 $41.99 (30% off)
  • Uncharted: The Lost Legacy $19.99 (50% off)
  • Overwatch $29.99 (50% off)
  • Injustice 2 $19.99 (60% off)
  • Persona 5 $24.99 (50% off)
  • The Disney Afternoon Collection $9.99 (50% off)
  • Horizon Zero Dawn $19.99 (50% off)

Xbox

If you don’t already own an Xbox One, Microsoft has lots of bundled deals available, including with Minecraft and Assassin’s Creed Origins. Digital games are on sale up to 65% off. Like PlayStation, if you’re a subscriber to Xbox Live Gold you’ll get an additional 10% off.

Sale ends November 28.

  • Destiny 2 $44.99 (25% off)
  • Madden NFL 18 $35.99 (40% off)
  • Need for Speed Payback $41.99 (30% off)
  • Forza Motorsport 7 $38.99 (35% off)
  • Halo Wars 2 $23.99 (40% off)
  • Overwatch Game of the Year Edition $35.99 (40% off)