In normal video games, you fight the good fight, beat the bad guy, and then the video game is over. Not so with the new Skylanders Trap Team game. Now you suck the villain into a vortex, shrink and trap him in a toy, and turn his Mwah ha ha ha evil laugh into hilarious banter as you make him do your bidding to fight evil.
4th Game in the Skylanders Series
This fourth iteration in the Skylanders' toys-to-life series continues the use of a portal attached to your game console to bring toy figurines into the game as characters. However this time, you need a new portal that allows for the trapping of villains.
New and special to this game is the ability to bring characters out of the game by defeating villains. Once defeated, the baddie morphs out of the game and into a collectable toy called a "trap" which is placed inside of an opening on the side of the portal. Once inside the trap, the villain talks to you from the portal and agrees to fight for you instead of against you. Kids can then bring the reformed villain back into the game as a soldier for good, using his or her unique powers.
Players of the first three Skylanders games will recognize Skylands' #1 bad guy, Kaos. He's back with another harebrained scheme to become the ultimate ruler of the floating islands of Skylands. This time, he has freed a notorious band of baddies -- known as the Doom Raiders -- from Cloudcracker prison, in hopes that they will help him. So now these reprobates are running amok around Skylands.
How to Play
This is where players come in. As the portal masters, players control which Skylanders heroes they bring into the game to defeat the Doom Raiders and Kaos. New to this game are special Trap Masters, heroes with the ability to suck up the defeated villains and imprison them inside the toy traps.
As with the past Skylanders heroes, which are all playable in this new game, both the new Trap Masters and the villains are aligned to one of eight elements: fire, water, earth, life, air, tech, magic, and undead. There are special parts of the game that are only available to Trap Masters of a specific element; and you can only play with a villain if you have the trap aligned with its elemental power.
This multi-chapter action game takes players to different locations around Skylands to find and defeat the Doom Raiders. Players will use their heroes to explore each location for collectibles and currency; solve environmental puzzles; perform platforming feats; and take on villains and their minions in combat. Each toy can level up and it keeps its statistics inside the toy so that kids can take the toy to a friend's house to play with it on a different console. With a click of a button, your current hero can switch places with a trapped villain. The villains have special powers, such as the healing circle of Broccoli Guy, a green-stalked vegetable villain; but these baddies can only come out to fight for a limited amount of time.
In addition to the story mode, there is a battle arena and a relentless Kaos Doom Challenge fighting mode. Skylanders Trap Team also offers fun mini-games found in the hub called the Skylanders Academy -- a place that players visit in between chapters. One features a charming skeleton and the defeated villains challenging the player to a rhythm game.
There is no doubt that the 46 villains in this game steal the show. By having the villain's voice seamlessly travel from the TV speakers to the portal speaker, kids experience the sense that the villain has flown out of the game into their toy. Then when the bad guy starts dishing his snark, the lights in the trap flicker, thus adding to the sense that this villain is there. The trapped villain kibitzes the player's performance, and begs to be let free to help in the fight.
Also good is that the game offers three levels of difficulty, making it accessible for many ages. There is no death in the game, Skylanders whose life meter drops to zero simply claim they need a rest and players must put a new toy on the portal to continue. The game has a drop-in, drop-out ability of adding a friend. And the humorous dialog is priceless.
The tough stuff for parents is the cost. The starter pack ($75 for consoles and tablets, $65 for Nintendo 3DS) contains the new Traptanium portal, one Trap Master, one Skylander character, and 2 elemental traps. And for the first time, this full Skylanders game is playable on a tablet (it comes with its own controller); so families who don't own a console can get in on the action.
You can play Skylanders Trap Team with just the starter pack. But, there is a portion of this game that won't open for you unless you purchase extra TrapMasters (at $16 each, and you need one of each of the eight elements) and extra elemental traps (at $7 each). And there are lots of other characters and even mini-characters for purchase.
For past players of the previous games, the toy Skylanders from those games can play in this one, but they aren't as powerful as the new TrapMasters. The old portals don't work, so you have to upgrade. Plus, unlike the earlier games, the Elemental Gates, which hide extra content, are only accessible by TrapMasters of that element, and NOT to any Skylander matching the element. This again, forces parents to have to decide how much they are willing to spend to unlock all of this game's content. Before buying this great game for your kids, you might want to think through your purchase strategy.
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