So, after hearing about and refusing to play any of the Pokemon games or its multiple (and I mean 我的天阿, there are SO MANY of them!!) clones, rip-offs, and crazy-pants alternate versions of it, I slowly began hearing of a new new game franchise being added to the mix.

Now, I watched Pokemon, and Yu-Gi-Oh!, and Digimon when I was younger. I even tried watching Card Captors or whatever it was called (someone help me out with that one), but couldn’t really get into any of them. Pokemon was fun and hilarious at times, but the only characters that resonated with me were the actual Pokemon themselves, and there seemed to be few episodes dedicated to them.

Though, I do vaguely remember one episode where the pokemon were the central characters but they still spoke poke-speak (Is there another name for that language where they all just say their names in odd-damn-ball ways? There has to be, right?)

What is he saying?? Is it Pika-nese, Pikachian, Pika, Pokenese, Pokemonian? WHAT ARE THEY SAYING???

What is he saying?? Is it Pika-nese, Pikachian, Pika, Pokenese, Pokemonian? WHAT ARE THEY SAYING???

Anyway, when the video games came out for game boy and all of its iterations, I didn’t really hold much interest in it. It sounded like so much work; running around, capturing these (mostly) cute little creatures and forcing them to fight for you to prove that you’re the best trainer alive. For some reason it just didn’t appeal to me.

Then came Skylanders Giants. Now, I admit, I was super skeptical of this game at first. It seemed like it was a knock-off of all the other “collect creatures and make them fight for you” games, so i wrote it off. Then I started hearing about it on two fronts:

My dear friend, Jesse, who has a nephew who is just silly over the game; and My sister-in-law, J.J., who has a son…also pretty silly over the game and has been doing his best to convince me to get the game myself. Well as of my birthday: Mission Accomplished, Aiden.

Mission Accomplished.

So, for all of you who haven’t heard of this game before (because you don’t have kids or live in a cupboard under the stairs) let me explain what makes this game so brilliant.

Hey, I get it. It's hard to get your gaming information when THIS is where you live. Sorry, Harry!

Hey, I get it. It’s hard to get your gaming information when THIS is where you live. Sorry, Harry!

So, when you buy the game with the starter pack it includes the game itself (available on MULTIPLE platforms, but we’ll get to why that’s awesome in a sec, be patient), but it also comes with a PORTAL OF POWER (just imagine that being said by the booming voice of James Earl Jones…oh yeah…):

This looks pretty cool. It glows even!!

This looks pretty cool. It glows even!!

What the hell is that thing for? Oh, I’m getting to that. Wait for it! You also get three figures. Which Figures you get all depend on what platform you buy it for, mostly. You plug in the portal to your console, power that bad boy up and then start the game.

Now I won’t get too much into the story, but suffice it to say you are fighting an evil Palpatine wannabe named Kaos who seems to want to take over the world and laugh like a crazy person. Normal villian-type stuff, sure. Enter the Skylanders, the heroes of this world. It is your job as “Portal Master” to make sure that the Skylanders are able to enter the world and defend it.

How do I do that? I thought you’d ask that! Here’s where the figures I mentioned come in. When you place any of the figures on the PORTAL OF POWER (and yes, I am going to keep doing that) that figure then materializes in the most insane, chezy, catch-phrasey way within the game itself.

Each figure has its own abilities and attacks based on the elemental family it belongs to. There are eight elements altogether: Earth, Air, Fire, Magic, Water, Life, Tech and Undead and while you might think that each elemental family might have a gripe with the others, there doesn’t appear to be anything like that in the game.

You also have two different kinds of Skylanders; you have the original type as featured in the prequel game, Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure (yeah, remember him, PS One fans? well….he’s back!), and you have Giants. The Giants are each the leaders of their respective element types and have been kind of missing for a while (though, how one could miss them I’ll never understand, they’re pretty distinctive…and huge!). The Giants are able to move through obstacles the other Skylanders can’t and access areas that are not within reach of the others.

Plus they look really bad-ass!

So bad-ass! Also...I don't think that there's any amount of "Clear Eyes" that can help him...

So bad-ass! Also…I don’t think that there’s any amount of “Clear Eyes” that can help him…

The gameplay is pretty cool too. You unlock more attacks to upgrade your skylander as you go, making them more powerful and pretty much more badd-ass. One of the cooler things about this is that, rather than saving all of your progress to the console itself you save your character’s progress to the figure itself thanks to NCF (near field communication) technology.

What does this mean, you ask?

Well it means that you can take your own figures, with all of their saved data, to the homes of anyone who happens to have the game and their own PORTAL OF POWER (told ya) and play with your character there. There is also a battle mode of the game that allows you to play, head to head, with someone who has their own saved skylander.

Here’s one of the more genius things about this game, though; and I dare say that this is what has helped the success of this franchise: Toys.

I mean, sure, the game is colorful and fun to play; it’s like a lighter version of Diablo marketed to young children.

And, yes, Patrick Warburton does a hilarious job in voice acting as one of the supporting characters in the game (spoiler, no spoilers!!).

oh alright, but this is the ONLY spoiler you get!

oh alright, but this is the ONLY spoiler you get!

The awesome and genius thing about this (and parents might roll their eyes at this) is the figures. Any new content, be it playable characters or landscapes, are accessible by purchasing figures and other toys, and believe me when I tell you there are a LOT of them. There is nothing in the way of downloadable content, but lots of toys that kids go bananas over. (I own five of them, myself) I’ve stood shoulder to, er, waist with several young gamers, all clawing and begging for new Skylanders toys. (seriously, it’s quite the site. I don’t think I had ever been so afraid for my life…or my non-existant cotton candy…kids still eat that, right?). What’s more awesome is that there are so many of these toys that there will always be more characters and content to add to the game.

Is Skylanders Giants the uber addictive gateway game for kids and adults that everyone makes it out to be?

Yes.

Will kids be talking about this for the next few years?

Likely.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, Eye-Brawl and I have our eye on some baddies in need of pummeling!

(Yeah…that was a terrible joke…remind me never to do that again…in this post…)

 

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