It’s Mercy’s time to shine in Mercy’s Recall Challenge event in Overwatch, running from now through December 2. You can earn new sprays, player icon, and the Dr. Ziegler Mercy…
The latest game in the long-running and popular Call of Duty series will simply be titled Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. Modern Warfare will serve as a reboot of the…
Bungie, best known for creating the Halo series and more recently the Destiny games, has announced they are splitting from parent company Activision after eight years. As part of the deal, Activision will transfer ownership rights of Destiny to Bungie, who will become an independent publisher.
“We have enjoyed a successful eight-year run and would like to thank Activision for their partnership on Destiny,” states the official update post. “Looking ahead, we’re excited to announce plans for Activision to transfer publishing rights for Destiny to Bungie. With our remarkable Destiny community, we are ready to publish on our own, while Activision will increase their focus on owned IP projects.”
Bungie has a history of independent development as well as partnerships with large corporations. After developing PC games in the 90s, Bungie was acquired by Microsoft in 1999 after showing its new first-person shooter, Halo: Combat Evolved. Halo became an Xbox exclusive and was instrumental in catapulting the new console’s success throughout the early 2000s.
In 2007 Bungie split from Microsoft, but Microsoft would retain the rights to the Halo franchise. Bungie continued to develop Halo games for Microsoft, releasing Halo 3: ODST and Halo Reach.
Then in 2010 Bungie announced a 10-year publishing agreement with Activision, which included letting Bungie keep the intellectual property rights of any new games. The Destiny series was born from that agreement. “We had a vision for Destiny that we believed in, but to launch a game of that magnitude, we needed the support of an established publishing partner,” states the post.
Destiny and its sequel, Destiny 2, have enjoyed critical and commercial success, with numerous content updates and DLC over the years. Bungie promises to continue this trend as they resume life as an independent developer. “We’ll continue to deliver on the existing Destiny roadmap, and we’re looking forward to releasing more seasonal experiences in the coming months, as well as surprising our community with some exciting announcements about what lies beyond,” states the post. “We know self-publishing won’t be easy; there’s still much for us to learn as we grow as an independent, global studio, but we see unbounded opportunities and potential in Destiny.”
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 lives! Sort of. While we still haven’t heard any news about a new console release, a mobile Skylanders RPG is currently in development. Skylanders Ring of Heroes is coming…
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.