skylanders

Ranking All Six Skylanders Games

Posted by | Feature, PlayStation 4, Switch, Wii U, Xbox One | No Comments

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.

Skylanders: Imaginators

Uh-Oh: Activision Says No Skylanders Console Game This Year

Posted by | Mobile, News, PlayStation 4, Switch, Xbox One | No Comments

During Activision Blizzard’s fourth quarter 2016 earnings call the company confirmed that there will be no new console Skylanders game coming in 2017. This would be the first year since the series began in 2011 that we wouldn’t get a new Skylanders game.

It may be premature to claim doom and gloom over the entire franchise. But Disney Infinity faced a similar dilemma. In early 2016 Disney announced there would not be a fourth version released that year. A few months later, the entire franchise was closed down.

We won’t be getting an official Skylanders 7 any time soon, but that doesn’t mean we won’t see any new Skylanders content.

“In 2017, rather than releasing a new console title, we will be supporting the award-winning Skylanders Imaginators with multiple adventure packs, new characters and new in-game content,” stated the company. This is a model used by WB Games with LEGO Dimensions. LEGO Dimensions launched in Fall 2015 and has been sustained through multiple character and level packs. Given that Skylanders Imaginators is the best in the series, this may not be a bad angle.

Thus far Skylanders Imaginators has released three adventure packs and over two dozen figures. Imaginator Crystals are also available, and are used to create your own Skylanders in the game.

Skylanders Imaginators is also being ported to the upcoming Nintendo Switch as a launch title.

A second season of Netlflix series Skylanders Academy will be airing in 2017. Netflix has already ordered a third season, which should air next year.

Activision ended their Skylanders talk by teasing a new Sylanders mobile game that’s currently in development and should be launching in 2017. Skylanders has previously appeared in mobile versions, either through ports of the main games or spin-off free-to-play titles. Read our review of Hearthstone-like Skylanders Battlecast.

playstation 4

Pixelkin 2016 Holiday Guide: PlayStation 4

Posted by | Feature, PlayStation 4 | No Comments

Great for All Ages

amplitude harmonix

Amplitude
Amplitude is a gorgeous game that shows you what music games used to look like. You’ll find that at its roots the gameplay isn’t terribly different from modern music games. That makes it a satisfying musical game experience without the costs of decking out your home with plastic peripherals.

armello

Armello
Armello is a complex, but really good digital board game. I found it satisfying to simply play against AI characters, but multiplayer was fun too. There’s no chat, so you don’t have deal with any objectionable behavior from other players. The developers recently released an expansion pack that adds more characters that you can play as. I really liked this game and very much recommend it for someone whose looking for a strategic board game experience, but can’t get the friends together to have one. Though you could all play Armello together from any location.

castles-screen1

Castles
If you like puzzles games, specifically match-3 games, you should give Castles a try. It takes that gameplay mechanic and kicks it up a notch making it more difficult than your standard match-3 game. But that’s a good thing. I’ve never wanted to sit and play Candy Crush as long as I wanted to play Castles.  It’s frantic gameplay made for a vastly enjoyable experience.

catlateral-damage-snarky-cat

Catlateral Damage
Catlateral Damage is a fun and humorous take on what it means to be a cat. The gameplay is easy to pick up, but achieving the goals for each level can be more challenging than you might expect. If you’re a cat person, or even if you’re not, you’ll probably find Catlateral Damage to be a nice way to spend a few hours, and a good game to enjoy with your kids.

Dragon Quest Builders

Dragon Quest Builders
Dragon Quest Builders combines the imaginative world of Dragon Quest with addictive and fun mechanics that will keep you playing for hours. If you’re a fan of Minecraft, Dragon Quest, or if you’re just looking for a bit of fun on your Playstation 4, Dragon Quest Builders is a sure-fire way to have a great time.

fifa 17

FIFA 17
FIFA 17 is a gorgeous game that includes all of the football action that fans of the sport would expect. This is a must own for fans.

four sided fantasy

Four-Sided Fantasy
Four Sided Fantasy is not for the faint of heart. This game is hard. Even when you think you’ve got it, there will be a a new challenge. The developers have said that one of their inspirations was Portal. I love Portal. I played a ton of Portal, but this game is way more difficult than Portal, at least for me. But I love that it’s difficult. There are times when I want a game I can easily move through, but other times I want to be challenged. This game is a great challenge.

kerbal space program vehicle assembly

Kerbal Space Program
The soft music and cheery Kerbals help keep you calm, even when one minor mistake causes catastrophic results. As complex as the science gets, Kerbal Space Program desperately wants you to succeed. For once you’re not racing toward galactic conquest or defending against alien invaders. You’re reveling in the simple joy of applied learning and scientific discovery. For Science!

lego star wars: the force awakens

LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Besides the main gameplay there are gazillions of characters, vehicles and other collectibles to find through out the game. That’s the same tried and true formula that has been working in LEGO games for more than 10 years. At the end of the day it is a LEGO game and it’s Star Wars. That’s all you really need to know.

madden nfl 17 ea majors

Madden NFL 17
Madden NFL 17 is the best game in the series for over a decade. This is a must buy for NFL fans that may have stopped buying the annual release.

kyrie-irving-nba-2k17

NBA 2K17
This is an absolute must buy for any NBA fans. I also strongly believe that anyone looking for a unique take on the RPG genre should look into this one too.

Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 trouble in zombopolis: part one

Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2
Overall, Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 is a ton of fun, just like the first one was. The tagline for the game is “Bigger. Badder. Bigger.” I usually find taglines like these to be a little bit too much bragging, but in this case, the tagline is completely fitting.

ratchet and clank

Ratchet and Clank
Ratchet and Clank is a fantastic game. The franchise has remained so popular over the years for good reason.  Its wacky universe and ageless appeal make it one of the best franchises for all types of players. If you loved the games back in the day, you will love this PlayStation 4 outing. If you’ve never played a Ratchet and Clank game, you owe it to yourself to check this one out. It’s unbelievably fun.

Skylanders Imaginators

Skylanders Imaginators
Skylanders: Imaginators is the first in the series that really feels comfortable in its own skin. The overland map and loot overhaul to support the new Imaginators are fantastic additions. Though I do worry about how this full makeover will be supported in future games. For now, Imaginators is the best Skylanders game yet.

song of the deep

Song of the Deep
Song of the Deep isn’t the deepest Metroidvania I’ve played, nor even my favorite underwater game (look up Aquaria). The game makes up for its light, simple combat with fun, varied puzzle designs and a beautiful world to explore. Song of the Deep has a satisfying challenge curve that remains fun for its 10+ hours, and the grand story will keep you invested in Merryn throughout her journey.

Unravel EA Access

Unravel
Unravel is beautiful. While its story isn’t spelled out very clearly, there is a strong sense of family and love that connects each scene. I think it would be a really nice game for a parent and child to share because of the lovely settings and warm atmosphere. Plus, if you get really into it, you can try making your own Yarny as an art project.

World of Final Fantasy

World of Final Fantasy
World of Final Fantasy is one huge, charming dose of nostalgia for anyone who has ever wiled away the hours in a Final Fantasy game. Have I mentioned it’s cute? We’re talking freaking adorable. If Final Fantasy XV looks like it’s too serious a choice for you and your kids, pick up World of Final Fantasy for an entry in the series that’s likely just as enjoyable.

Great for Older Players

batman

Batman: The Telltale Series
This is a classic episodic story done in Telltale’s tried and true method. Not all of the episodes have been released yet, but the one’s that have are great.

battlefield 1 logo

Battlefield 1
Battlefield 1 stands out from the crowd of recent science fiction based shooters. It is a must own for anyone who enjoys the genre, but has been hungry to put down the laser rifles and charge into the war zones of the past.

BioShock: The Collection

BioShock: The Collection
What is there to say about this one? It’s and HD compilation of all of the BioShock games, as well as all of the related single-player DLC. If you were a fan of the originals, this is a great way to experience them. If you haven’t played them, they are well worth picking up.

call-of-duty-infinite-warfare-screenshot-06-jpg-optimal

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare
Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare is pure fun. Fans of the series should buy this one right away. You will not be disappointed. Everyone else should, at least, look into buying this game as its price drops because the single-player campaign is excellent.

firewatch

Firewatch
In summary, I loved this game. I don’t usually consider replaying something the minute I put it down, but I’d like to spend more time with Firewatch. It’s worth every minute.

overwatch

Overwatch
Overwatch is an amazing game and is a worthwhile addition to anyone’s library. This is especially true if you’re a fan of competitive shooters. This game is going to be a big deal for a very long time and it will definitely be worth it to jump on the bus with the rest of us.

titanfall-2-screen

Titanfall 2
Fans of the original Titanfall should grab this game as soon as possible. It is an upgrade in almost every way. Otherwise, I would only buy it if you were interested in playing the multiplayer. The single player campaign is a lot of fun, but it is really short. That makes it hard to justify a full price game.

uncharted 4

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
I love Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. It’s got everything I love about games wrapped up in one beautiful experience. The story is one of the best I’ve ever encountered in a game, with believable characters who have strengths and weaknesses. The action adventure gameplay is well-executed and balanced. I never felt like I was doing too much of one thing. I really can’t say enough about how great this game.  If you’ve got a PlayStation 4, go out and buy (or download) this game immediately. You won’t be disappointed.

watch_dogs_2_screenshots

Watch Dogs 2
I came into Watch Dogs 2 with a skeptical mind because I’ve been burned by Ubisoft hype before. Fortunately, all of my concerns faded away quickly as I was whisked away to a virtual San Francisco to live the life of a hacker vigilante. I may be finished with the game, but it has definitely left its mark on me. Watch Dogs 2 is, unquestionably, one of the best games I have played in a very long time.

 

xbox one

Pixelkin 2016 Holiday Guide: Xbox One

Posted by | Feature, Xbox One | No Comments

Great for All Ages

armello

Armello
Armello is a complex, but really good digital board game. I found it satisfying to simply play against AI characters, but multiplayer was fun too. There’s no chat, so you don’t have deal with any objectionable behavior from other players. The developers recently released an expansion pack that adds more characters that you can play as. I really liked this game and very much recommend it for someone whose looking for a strategic board game experience, but can’t get the friends together to have one. Though you could all play Armello together from any location.

castles-screen1

Castles
If you like puzzles games, specifically match-3 games, you should give Castles a try. It takes that gameplay mechanic and kicks it up a notch making it more difficult than your standard match-3 game. But that’s a good thing. I’ve never wanted to sit and play Candy Crush as long as I wanted to play Castles.  It’s frantic gameplay made for a vastly enjoyable experience.

fifa 17

FIFA 17
FIFA 17 is a gorgeous game that includes all of the football action that fans of the sport would expect. This is a must own for fans.

lego star wars: the force awakens

LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Besides the main gameplay there are gazillions of characters, vehicles and other collectibles to find through out the game. That’s the same tried and true formula that has been working in LEGO games for more than 10 years. At the end of the day it is a LEGO game and it’s Star Wars. That’s all you really need to know.

madden nfl 17 ea majors

Madden NFL 17
Madden NFL 17 is the best game in the series for over a decade. This is a must buy for NFL fans that may have stopped buying the annual release.

kyrie-irving-nba-2k17

NBA 2K17
This is an absolute must buy for any NBA fans. I also strongly believe that anyone looking for a unique take on the RPG genre should look into this one too.

Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 trouble in zombopolis: part one

Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2
Overall, Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 is a ton of fun, just like the first one was. The tagline for the game is “Bigger. Badder. Bigger.” I usually find taglines like these to be a little bit too much bragging, but in this case, the tagline is completely fitting.

Skylanders Imaginators

Skylanders Imaginators
Skylanders: Imaginators is the first in the series that really feels comfortable in its own skin. The overland map and loot overhaul to support the new Imaginators are fantastic additions. Though I do worry about how this full makeover will be supported in future games. For now, Imaginators is the best Skylanders game yet.

song of the deep

Song of the Deep
Song of the Deep isn’t the deepest Metroidvania I’ve played, nor even my favorite underwater game (look up Aquaria). The game makes up for its light, simple combat with fun, varied puzzle designs and a beautiful world to explore. Song of the Deep has a satisfying challenge curve that remains fun for its 10+ hours, and the grand story will keep you invested in Merryn throughout her journey.

Unravel EA Access

Unravel
Unravel is beautiful. While its story isn’t spelled out very clearly, there is a strong sense of family and love that connects each scene. I think it would be a really nice game for a parent and child to share because of the lovely settings and warm atmosphere. Plus, if you get really into it, you can try making your own Yarny as an art project.

Great for Older Players

batman

Batman: The Telltale Series
This is a classic episodic story done in Telltale’s tried and true method. Not all of the episodes have been released yet, but the one’s that have are great.

battlefield 1 logo

Battlefield 1
Battlefield 1 stands out from the crowd of recent science fiction based shooters. It is a must own for anyone who enjoys the genre, but has been hungry to put down the laser rifles and charge into the war zones of the past.

BioShock: The Collection

BioShock: The Collection
What is there to say about this one? It’s and HD compilation of all of the BioShock games, as well as all of the related single-player DLC. If you were a fan of the originals, this is a great way to experience them. If you haven’t played them, they are well worth picking up.

call-of-duty-infinite-warfare-screenshot-06-jpg-optimal

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare
Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare is pure fun. Fans of the series should buy this one right away. You will not be disappointed. Everyone else should, at least, look into buying this game as its price drops because the single-player campaign is excellent.

gears of war 4

Gears of War 4
Gears of War 4 is an example of a game doing one thing and doing it extremely well. I think you would be hard-pressed to find a shooter that’s more polished than this one. The depth of the story was surprising to me and is actually more interesting than you’re standard sci-fi fare. Straight-up shooters aren’t really my thing, but I enjoyed playing the game. If you’re a big fan of shooters, then you’ll definitely want to give the game your attention.

overwatch

Overwatch
Overwatch is an amazing game and is a worthwhile addition to anyone’s library. This is especially true if you’re a fan of competitive shooters. This game is going to be a big deal for a very long time and it will definitely be worth it to jump on the bus with the rest of us.

oxenfree

Oxenfree
Oxenfree was a really enjoyable game to play. It stood on the edge of horror without falling in, yet maintained its suspense far better than most horror games do. Oxenfree is many things: charming, eerie, poignant, and, most importantly, worth your time.

titanfall-2-screen

Titanfall 2
Fans of the original Titanfall should grab this game as soon as possible. It is an upgrade in almost every way. Otherwise, I would only buy it if you were interested in playing the multiplayer. The single player campaign is a lot of fun, but it is really short. That makes it hard to justify a full price game.

turing-test-feature

The Turing Test
The Turing Test is great execution of first-person puzzling. The rate of difficulty rose at a good pace and the puzzles were not only complex, they were satisfying to complete. I really enjoyed the game despite the fact that I couldn’t get comparisons to Portal out of my head.  But then, there are a lot worse games to emulate than Portal.

watch_dogs_2_screenshots

Watch Dogs 2
I came into Watch Dogs 2 with a skeptical mind because I’ve been burned by Ubisoft hype before. Fortunately, all of my concerns faded away quickly as I was whisked away to a virtual San Francisco to live the life of a hacker vigilante. I may be finished with the game, but it has definitely left its mark on me. Watch Dogs 2 is, unquestionably, one of the best games I have played in a very long time.

wii u

Pixelkin 2016 Holiday Gift Guide: Wii U

Posted by | Feature, Wii U | No Comments

Great for All Ages

twilight princess epona

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD
Twilight Princess HD doesn’t do much to change its original subject matter, but it doesn’t need to do much. This game is a classic for good reason. It plays like the cool, older sibling of Ocarina of Time in the best ways possible. Sometimes it’s a little weird, sometimes it’s a little slow, but overall it’s fun, satisfying, thoughtful, and gorgeous. If you love puzzles and spooky fantasy adventures, add Twilight Princess HD to your list.

 

lego star wars: the force awakens

LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Besides the main gameplay there are gazillions of characters, vehicles and other collectibles to find through out the game. That’s the same tried and true formula that has been working in LEGO games for more than 10 years. At the end of the day it is a LEGO game and it’s Star Wars. That’s all you really need to know.

 

paper_mario_colour_splash_wiiu

Paper Mario: Color Splash
Paper Mario: Color Splash is one of the best titles now available for the Wii U. Not only is the story engaging and the gameplay just plain fun, the creative paper aesthetic of the characters and backgrounds are almost mind-boggling.

 

pokken tournament

Pokkén Tournament
While Pokkén Tournament lacks the advanced features and expanded campaign stories of most modern fighting games, it succeeds on transitioning fun pokémon characters into a fighting game formula. Numerous aesthetic unlockables and a leveling system help make each fight matter. And the training modes are some of the best I’ve seen. Pokémon fans wanting to play an easy to pick up brawler will delight in seeing beloved pokémon on the big screen.

 

Skylanders Imaginators

Skylanders Imaginators
Skylanders: Imaginators is the first in the series that really feels comfortable in its own skin. The overland map and loot overhaul to support the new Imaginators are fantastic additions. Though I do worry about how this full makeover will be supported in future games. For now, Imaginators is the best Skylanders game yet.

 

Star Fox Zero

Star Fox Zero
This is a game that tries some very weird, very new stuff with its controls and with its level formatting, and honestly using the nostalgia of the Star Fox franchise is probably the only way that such designs could have made it to market. And I’m glad it’s here. Star Fox Zero feels both smooth as a pearl and rough around the edges in a way that is extremely Nintendo.

 

 

skylanders: imaginators

The Best Skylanders: Imaginators Figures from the Launch Wave

Posted by | Feature, Opinion, PlayStation 4, Wii U, Xbox One | No Comments

With a sixth game in as many years, the Skylanders crew has had to create an astonishing amount of new toy figures. While each Skylanders game has its own unique gimmicks, playing with new and old figures is still the main draw of each entry.

Skylanders: Imaginators features one of the most enjoyable new twists in being able to create your own customizable Skylander. Yet the new Sensei and Villain figures shouldn’t be ignored; they are some of the best figures we’ve seen yet. Read More