skylanders: imaginators

Toys for Bob Donates Hundreds of Skylanders Toys to Museum

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Toys for Bob, the original developers of Skylanders (and a subsidiary of Activision), recently donated hundreds of Skylanders toys and products to The Strong Museum. The Strong National Museum of Play houses the International Center for the History of Electronic Games, and the World Video Game Hall of Fame.

“Skylanders is one of the most significant game franchises of the last decade, and this collection — which includes one-of-a-kind prototypes — shows how the franchise inspired an entirely new genre of play,” says Jeremy Saucier, assistant vice president for electronic games. “These materials will be used in future exhibits and be immensely valuable to researchers who want to study the genesis of ‘toys-to-life’ gaming.”

The donated collection includes more than 200 pre-production figures and portals, including hand-sculpted prototypes. Among the prototypes is the fist ever working Portal of Power. The donation also features 1,000 pages of records, such as artwork and production schedules. And of course, hundreds of retail figures and toys. As part of the collection, The Strong interviewed several staff members from Toys for Bob to provide video interviews and insight.

“We are very proud to have The Strong museum preserve the many stories and artifacts that went into developing Skylanders,” says Paul Yan, chief creative officer at Activision. “This collection exposes Toys for Bob’s unique maker culture and the scrappy inventiveness that went into trail blazing this unconventional marriage of physical toys and video games.  Our hope is that making this history publicly available will inspire radical new ways to experience fun and joy.”

The Strong is an interactive, collection-based museum based in New York City, and one of the largest museums in the country. It’s home to the National Toy Hall of Fame and Video Game Hall of Fame.

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.

destiny 2

Bungie Promises Better Communication Amidst Destiny 2 Controversy

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Destiny 2 developer Bungie has been in full damage control-mode following a recent controversy regarding hidden XP scaling. In a lengthy blog post developers Luke Smith and Chris Barrett pledged to do better with communicating any future fixes and changes.

“Our team has been reading feedback and working on updates to improve the game. We’ve also been reading some tough criticism about our lack of communication, and we agree we need to be more open,” states the blog post. “We know it’s frustrating when there isn’t enough of a dialog with the development team. You have our commitment that we’re going to do a better job going forward.”

December will see many new improvements and fixes coming to Destiny 2, along with release of the first DLC pack Curse of Osiris, and the beginning of season two.

The blog post specifically addresses the XP controversy: “Last weekend, we disabled a scaling mechanism that adjusted XP gains up and down without reflecting those adjustments in the UI […] the silent nature of the mechanic betrayed the expectation of transparency that you have for Destiny 2.”

This XP scaling has since been disabled, but Bungie is currently looking at ways to re-balance XP, and they admit leveling is too slow for some activities.

In related Destiny 2 news, you can now play a limited version of the game for free in the Free Trial. It’s available on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. The first expansion, Curse of Osiris, is arriving December 5.

 

call of duty: wwii

Call of Duty: WWII Makes $500 Million in First Three Days

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Activision has announced that Call of Duty: WWII, which launched last Friday, has made more than $500 million in sell-through units worldwide over the first three days of its release. That’s more than the opening weekends for big Hollywood film releases Wonder Woman and Thor: Ragnarok combined, in case you were still wondering if video games were a big deal.

“We challenged our players to get their squads back together and they answered the call with the highest number of players we’ve ever seen on current gen consoles and PC,” said Eric Hirshberg, CEO of Activision. “Call of Duty: WWII returns the franchise to its roots and the results are incredible, selling twice as many units in its opening weekend as last year and setting the day one record for full-game downloads on PlayStation 4. And we’re committed to supporting the community with continuous improvements and new content.”

Call of Duty is one of the biggest, if not the biggest annual releases of the year. Call of Duty: WWII returns the series back to its original setting of World War 2, featuring both online multiplayer and a single-player campaign. The popular cooperative zombies mode also returns with a new campaign. Call of Duty: WWII has been getting mostly favorable reviews and is currently sitting at an 80% aggregate score on Metacritic.

Activision obtained the sales figures from both retail and digital sell-through (meaning actual units sold, not just those put on the shelves) and compared them to reported movie sales.

Call of Duty: WWII is available now for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. A Digital Deluxe Edition is available, and includes the Season Pass for future DLC. It’s rated M for Mature.