Why I Hate: Skylanders

We were all once kids. In fact some of us still are, so we remember fondly looking for the newest action figure, dolly or toy we could get our hands on to bolster our collection – sometimes we only had one or two, but our imagination let them be the rest of the possible collection that we were unable to get. Why am I talking about this? Simple, today’s equivalent of this  – Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure is something I feel like tearing into, so stand back and watch as I do so.

Now, this isn’t a review – I was unable to play for long enough at my local game shop to do that. It’s what Skylanders has tried to do, and done both well…yet absolutely horribly at the same time. For those unknowing about this, Skylanders is a game that comes with a portal that you place small figures on that then transfer to the TV screen. All experience and abilities you earn with that character are saved onto the figurine and can be placed on other people’s portals to play co-operatively or head to head.

The idea is sound, but the extra figures go for around £20 for a pack of three – or $30 for you guys across the pond from what I heard. “But Dag!” I hear you cry “Surely they don’t have to buy the extra figures? They can play with the starting three!” And you’d have a point, if we were not talking about kids – kids who wanna collect them all and will ask their parents to get them all the characters so they can complete the collection – it’s what we went through with Pokémon…it’s what I still go through with Pokémon. I’ve had kids burst into tears at the revelation that the shop is sold out of them – that’s kids, plural.

There’s nothing that special about the game – it plays well and is rather solid, but inaccessable to some who are not willing to shell out the extra money to fully experience the game. Then there’s the fact of the box art – take a look.

Who is that World of Warcraft Rogue in the middle? Why isn’t Spyro there when it’s his freaking game? Why isn’t the Rogue in the starting three when he’s in the star position? That makes no sense! Speaking of which, why is Spyro even featured in this game in the first place? Did this game really need someone of Spyro’s caliber to give it clout in the gaming world? Replace Spyro with a generic dragon named Steve who is yellow and white, nothing that important would change and a promising franchise wouldn’t have to weigh on a well established one.

If the game allowed you to unlock the thirty odd characters through game progress rather than shelling out a few hundred currency and didn’t have Spyro, then I would have gladly praised this game as the gameplay is quite good and the story does the basics of suspending belief well. It’s the blatantness of the way that they are using poor Spyro as a lure for kids to empty their pocket money for plastic things that, while technologically impressive, are a cash magnet, especially when you realise that you need to buy all these characters to fully experience the game.

I’m all for innovation, but not all of us have the Monopoly Mustache to afford it on one game.

8 thoughts on “Why I Hate: Skylanders”

  1. Well, say what you like. Seems this worked out pretty well for Activision, in any case:
    http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showpost.php?p=34228882&postcount=306
    “NPD analyst Anita Frazier notes that Skylanders Spyro’s Adventure is not on the list due to character packs and software bundles falling into the accessories category. However, if those sales were taken into account, the game “would rank 4th in December, and 11th for Annual 2011 on dollar sales.”

    As for me, yeah, don’t really care too much about the money-grabbing aspect of this. However, the game itself is supposed to be surprisingly decent from what I’ve heard, the figures themselves are supposed to be pretty good quality for what they are, and the guys making it also apparently did a good job of distinguishing the characters from each other (in terms of abilities and such). In addition, the 3DS version of the game is supposed to be different from the others and actually focus a lot more on stuff like platforming, which intrigues me. Pretty much the only thing that’s really terrible about this game that I’ve heard/seen is Spyro’s redesign. Aside from that, most of the things I’ve heard range from mediocre to positive.

    So, regardless of this game’s obvious nature of trying to be a money-vacuum, I must say that I’m intrigued by it and am tempted to eventually pick it up one of these days if it ends up price bombing/I can find a nice deal on it.

  2. Hmm… That’s weird… My reply seems to have disappeared… Oh well, I suppose. Back feature on my browser worked, so I was able to recover it, so whatevs~ Let’s try this again:

    Well, seems this proved to be a successful move for Activision, in any case:
    http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showpost.php?p=34228882&postcount=306

    “NPD analyst Anita Frazier notes that Skylanders Spyro’s Adventure is not on the list due to character packs and software bundles falling into the accessories category. However, if those sales were taken into account, the game “would rank 4th in December, and 11th for Annual 2011 on dollar sales.”

    As for me, yeah, don’t really care too much about the money-grabbing aspect of this. However, the game itself is supposed to be surprisingly decent from what I’ve heard, the figures themselves are supposed to be pretty good quality for what they are, and the guys making it also apparently did a good job of distinguishing the characters from each other (in terms of abilities and such). In addition, the 3DS version of the game is supposed to be different from the others and actually focus a lot more on stuff like platforming, which intrigues me. Pretty much the only thing that’s really terrible about this game that I’ve heard/seen is Spyro’s redesign. Aside from that, most of the things I’ve heard range from mediocre to positive.

    So, regardless of this game’s obvious nature of trying to be a money-vacuum, I must say that I’m intrigued by it and am tempted to eventually pick it up one of these days if it ends up price bombing/I can find a nice deal on it.

    1. I’ve got nothing against the gameplay or the idea, it’s innovation – however, Activision are determined to make people pay hundreds for the privilege of fully enjoying the innovation.

      It prays on the collecting mentality of children, and more or less treated Spyro with no dignity.

  3. Meh… Just doesn’t really bother me I suppose, when we have stuff like trading card industries which base themselves around the premise of people spending hundreds of dollars on pack after pack of cards just to find that one rare card. Or for a more gaming related example, all of that cosmetic DLC stuff that changes the appearance or add some crown or whatever to your character that costs an arm and a leg. Or a toy company trying to get kids to buy the complete set of some action figures because they’e “limited edition, limited availability” release. It’s a new face, but it’s really the same old story as always, so I can’t really get too bothered by this, myself, unless I want to start getting myself upset every time I see a pack of trading cards or something too.

    Yeah, it’s a company exploring a new way of trying to get people to give them more money than they probably should… but that’s what businesses do really.

    At least in this case, in addition to the character models/unlocks/whatever, or in other words, data, you’re actually getting something physical, actual action figures that aren’t half-bad and can actually function as toys by themselves (and Activision could have sold them as such, without the connection to the games, though with it obvious makes them more money), which, at least, IMO, puts it above all of that worthless cosmetic DLC junk that you can find everywhere, since in addition to their game related functions the figures serve as good toys in their own right that you can play with and admire by themselves and it’s not just an unlock code for some minor change in a model or whatever. Still bad, but it’s also definitely a step up from some of the other ways companies have been trying to make money from video games recently & with stuff like that DLC around and even becoming more common/the norm, I suppose I just can’t waste the effort getting upset over stuff like this at all that’s comparatively mild and actually offering multi-use products (heck, I’ve also been tempted just to pick up some of the figures just because they look cool & to have them, even though I don’t have the game itself, but there’s no need–I’d just be buying them as figures), but that’s my take on this/the way I view these type of things and it seems we just have different perspectives on this issue.

  4. Also, just one more thing I forgot to mention… the only reason you’d need to buy all of the figures would be to unlock all of the character’s themselves in game, & that’s pretty much it. As long as you have one character of each element, you can get access to all of the areas of the game. Beyond that, you’re doing it for the characters themselves. I think there might be some stat bonus thing as well, but in terms of actual content, all you need is one character from each of the elements, and you’re good, so beyond that, it becomes the typical “kids buy whatever figure they think is coolest”, not really terribly different from Nintendo capitalizing on the Pokemon craze by releasing figuringes and plushies and such of all of them (in the sense of getting kids to buy stuff representing their favorite character, which is ultimately the main point of buying new figurines for Skylander’s).

    But anyway, yeah, my stance on this is pretty much just to pick your battles. For me, I just can’t help but look at the upsides to this & think of the positives, compared to some of the ways game companies have been trying to milk people lately: at least Activision is actually selling kids stuff that can also function as just plain old toys as well here and isn’t trying to make their parents shell out money just to pimp out and change some pixels around in some avatar or something. I’d rather direct my efforts towards fighting/complaining about/trying to get rid of or do something about all of that nonsensical, worthless variety of DLC (of course, there is good DLC as well–just focusing on the obvious scam type here) before I even start worrying/complaining about something like this. One step at a time, focus on the bigger/more concerning issues first, etc–that’s my take on this.

    1. My cousin got this game and I played a good majority of it and it is really rather fun (just played with the 3 starters on the 360. Besides getting one of every element each character you use unlocks a challenge and every character can do that challenge and when a character beats that challenge you get a stat increase in one of you stats.

      It is also worth noting that this really isn’t much of a sonic game at all sure there is some throwbacks to the older sonic games but really they just threw his name on there for some brand recognition.

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