Just over a year ago, Activision released Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure, which went on to become a certifiable cultural phenomenon. The reason for its success was twofold: a great game that could appeal to both adults and kids alike, and (perhaps more importantly) its interaction with physical collectible toys that monetized the game in an incredible way. To put it plainly, it was a game that kids and parents could legitimately enjoy together (which attracted the parents), and it was tied in with awesome collectible toys (which attracted the kids and collector-types). Now, one year later, Activision has taken Skylanders forward with Skylanders Giants, introducing a new story and new character figures.
For the most part, what I wrote one year ago for Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure still rings true for Skylanders Giants. I spent the first few hundred words talking about the brilliant voice casting. I’ll spare you another few hundred here, but suffice it to say that with the return of Patrick Warburton and Richard Steven Horvitz comes a cast that includes George Takei, Bobcat Goldthwait, and Kevin Sorbo. Each of these actors is instantly recognizable when they first appear, and each does his work wonderfully.
From what I’ve seen, all of the Spyro’s Adventure character figures are fully compatible with the Skylanders Giants portal and game, with certain “Series 2″ character figures being introduced as replacements for their “Series 1″ predecessors. These second editions come with additional abilities and powers. Aside from the Series 2 characters and some newly introduced normal Skylanders, the titular Giants are the biggest change to how the game is played. Currently, one Giant exists for each element. These Giants are, quite frankly, mostly useful for opening up paths in the game and accessing certain secret areas. They are far more powerful than their tiny compatriots, but they trade speed for that power, and I like a bit of pep in my step.
There are other minor changes to how the game is played. The one that stuck out most to me was the replacement of the joystick-wiggle with tapping the Y button to insert keys, open presents, and unlock treasure chests. I missed having the joystick for these features, and feel that relegating it to a button press loses that little something different in the control scheme.
Other than that, I do find that everything you need to know about Skylanders Giants can be found in the previously linked review for Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure. This is not a franchise that is going to bear witness to stunning leaps in gameplay or graphics; this is a franchise that is going to increase its monetization with each entry through new characters that only work with new titles. The only reason it gets away with it, in my opinion, is that it has created a truly entertaining experience that can be shared by players of any age or enjoyed alone, and damn it all to hell if those Skylanders figures don’t do an amazing job at decorating my bookshelf.
- Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure characters are compatible
- Continued brilliance in voice casting and acting
- Entertaining gameplay solo or co-op for players of all ages – great for gamer parents and kids
- The total cost of ownership for an entire Skylanders collection is extravagantly excessive
- Swapping the joystick controls for the Y button loses some of the unique feel of the game
- Eventually, the game will need to advance beyond simply updating the roster each year
To see where this review score falls in our scoring range, please read our review scale guidelines.