Developer: Toys for Bob
Platform: PS3, PS4, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Tested on: Xbox One
Skylanders Imaginators – Review
It seems that it’s time for the yearly iteration of Skylanders once again, even though Skylanders Superchargers sold a lot less than expected, with the many toys currently in promotion all over the world. Nonetheless, the vehicle formula was fun, but it seems that it’s no longer a proper part of the equation. This time the players are truly in control as they are able to create their very own Skylander(s) with the use of Creation Crystals, which will save your personal Skylanders on them. Of course, other new characters still join the battlefield, making sure you can expand your ever-growing collection, and of course, these so-called Sensei characters have the very purpose of guiding your creations to become the very best.
Kaos has returned once again, and this time he means business. He has gained control over the power of the ancient beings who once created the world as we know it. This creation magic allows Kaos to create his very own army of Doomlanders, which will follow his every command. Due to this type of magic, his minions have grown a lot stronger compared to his previous armies, presenting the Skylanders with a whopping obstacle to overcome.
You, the portal master now have to create your own new Skylanders, who can accompany the Sensei Skylanders who have been missing for quite some time. Together you’ll have to face the meanest and ugliest Doomlanders possible, in order to save the Skylands once more.
Overall the story is simple, yet catchy enough for an older audience to also enjoy this title. Every level you’ll get small snippets of story content, which will inevitably lead you to Kaos’ doorstep, hopefully vanquishing this not-so-bright evil overlord once and for all.
Even though Skylanders never truly looked bad, it somehow seemed stuck in the previous generation, which still worked for a game such as this. Nonetheless, while Skylanders Imaginators still isn’t comparable with the top tier games on Xbox One, it has been fine-tuned to look more elegant and detailed. Overall the comical vibe remains intact, together with the very colorful world that is once again pestered by Kaos.
As you can still use the old Skylanders you’ll be treated to a massive cast of characters, which means that this game was actually a lot harder to create than you’d initially expect. While some minor bugs still appear, where your characters is ‘stuck’ in walls or other small issues, you’ll be able to enjoy a very adorable looking title.
The music is pretty much what you’d expect from a kid-friendly adventure title, meaning it remains rather light throughout the entire campaign. Nonetheless, the action packed tracks get you in the proper mood, while the victory tunes will become instantly recognizable after a few battles. A few fun additions were made for this title, as when creating your very own Skylander(s), you’ll be able to choose a short background tune, as well as different voices for said creation. Even though the list of voices isn’t that long, the added voice effects to alter your choice a bit, do add some funny results to the equation.
Skylanders Imaginators remains safely inside the adventure/platform genre, and thus you’ll be crawling with one, or many Skylanders, through the varied levels of this title. You’ll be hacking at your enemies, solving puzzles, playing mini-games and platform your way through the many obstacles that bar your way. Again, you can use all of your older Skylanders, except for the ‘traps’, as the portal has no more slot for them, and the vehicles cannot be used in the story mode. The latter is understandable, as there are no new vehicles for this game, thus there are no programmed sections for said vehicles, yet it’s a shame that traps are no longer possible. That being said, we’ll be focusing on the Creation Crystals and the Sensei characters, as they will be the keystones of this new installment of Skylanders.
Like always, you’ll have an overworld in which you can roam around, going to the next level, replaying those you have already done, or visit other sites such as the arena or the card game corner. Overall, you’ll have a lot more to explore than in the previous games, as this world mixes your encampment with an area that connects the different levels you’ll have to complete. It’s clear that Activision wants you to purchase their Sensei characters , seeing there are a lot of Sensei specific regions in this title, and right of the bat you’ll get plenty that aren’t the same type as your starting Sensei. A nifty new addition in this title however are the random encounters, as you’ll be able to come across enemy raiding parties on the map, creating a new layer of gameplay. Overall these random battles give the game an extra RPG feel.
All levels are pretty much the same, which is of course not a bad thing in a game such as this. You’ll have to dispose the world of the Doomlanders, which are basically Kaos’ version of Skylanders, as he is also able to use the same creation magic. Each level also has enough sideroutes for you to explore, granting you the chance to find enough booty because there are ample Imaginator items to be found. Luckily the game constantly presents you with new item drops, allowing you to keep altering your Skylander’s appearance as well as add new armaments. The latter is actually the best feature of this game, seeing this is an expansive version of the ‘hat’ system that has been part of every Skylander title so far. Sadly, the gear only works for the Imaginators, as they can change ‘parts’ on the fly. Keep in mind that sometimes certain parts will not fit your characters, as each of the Imaginators is bound to the attack type of your choice, thus a ranged character will not be able to equip swords, and vice versa. That being said, Skylanders Imaginators offers you gear of different rarities, and many different usages and forms. You’ll be able to equip different weapons, helmets, shoulder pads, armbands, and so on, which all add to your attack, speed, armor or other bonuses, or if you’re lucky you might get a combination of more stats. Other physical alterations are only cosmetic however.
As stated above, this version of Skylanders now has ‘Sensei’ characters, which are pretty much the same size as the Giants in the previous games. Overall these characters prove to be a bit bulkier, tougher and they dish out more damage. The more Sensei characters you have, the higher your level cap for your Imaginator characters becomes and they also posses the means of starting ‘gong’ fights, as they are the only ones able to slam these massive gongs. Other than that, they play like any other Skylanders character.
Controls have remained the same, which means things are very easy to learn, but not always as perfect as you’d like. Jumping is a bit clunky, and when playing with a friend, your movements are very limited, as you can only be one screen apart from one another.
Those who still want to use their vehicles they purchased for Superchargers will be able to use them in a dedicated Race mode, which is pretty much a Skylanders variant of Mario Kart, in which you have tracks for your cars, airplanes or boats. As expected, you’ll have to race for the first spot, in order to win bonuses you can use in the main game. To actually end up first, you’ll have to use the weapons of your vehicle(s) of choice or use the power-ups scattered along the different tracks. The developers made sure that you already start off with one vehicle of each class, allowing you to play every track available. Truth be told, we didn’t expect much from this mode, but in the end it proved to be more expansive than we could have imagined, and the tracks were also quite qualitative.
Skylanders Imaginators is pushing all the right buttons to put Skylanders back on track. Even though the game tries to force the Sensei characters down your throat to unlock fun zones and level your Imaginators, Activision also made sure that you can have heaps of fun with only the characters provided in the base set. Countless hours of adventuring, grinding for gear and other goodies, and even more options to create your own personal Skylander. If you have been a fan of the series, this one might actually give you a very pleasant change of pace.