Skylanders Imaginators proves that sometimes good things come when gamers are patient. Toys for Bob have a hit on its hands with the Skylanders franchise and Imaginators is hands down the best version of the game that I have played to date.
Every game in the franchise, save the first one, has had some sort of gimmick that added a new twist or dimension to the series. This time around Toys for Bob has given players the chance to create their own character and customize them using near limitless combinations of parts. The characters that you create are called Imaginators and they are, obviously, central to both the gameplay mechanics and the story of the game.
It is impossible to talk about the game without first discussing the character creation and customization systems. So let’s start there.
Creation Crystals have replaced the standard $9.99 figures from previous sets. These are blank canvases upon which young gaming artists can create. Placing one of these crystals on the portal of power for the first time will bring up a menu that will force them to assign a single Battle Class to the crystal. These are character archetypes that will represent what kinds of moves the Imaginator will have access to.
It is VERY important to note that this is a one-time choice and cannot be reversed on a given crystal. So kids should be encouraged to choose carefully.
There are ten Battle Classes to choose from. Some of them are melee (up close) fighters while other focus on ranged attacks.
Creation may be limited to one time per crystal, but once you choose a Battle Class you can customize the rest of the character endlessly using a collection of parts (heads, arms, legs, armor, etc) at the push of a button. You start with a rather straight forward collection of pieces that look thematically appropriate for Skylanders. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if a number of those parts were taken from Skylanders that were being designed, but never made the cut.
The collection of parts you start with grows very quickly from there. Just about every challenge you complete and level you finish will give you an Imaginite chest. Opening these chests will unlock new items that come in four different rarities: common, rare, epic, and ultimate. The items include cosmetic things like body parts, but also armor and weapons that you can use to equip your Imaginator to suit your playstyle. What I love about this is that you are constantly earning Imaginite chests. There was almost always a chest to open as I was playing through the game.
The story, while not a masterpiece, is serviceable. Kaos is looking to take over the Skylands again and is trying to use the Mind Magic of the Ancients to do it. What sets this game apart is that it finally includes a large cast of the original Skylanders as the characters driving the story alongside the player. This felt like a great idea especially when we consider that the new Skylanders cartoon is available on Netflix as we speak and features some of these same characters.
Is This a Kids’ Game?
Yes. Skylanders: Imaginators is one of the best kids games on the market this year. It is rated E 10+ because it features some cartoon violence. But, if you have been comfortable letting your kids play previous games in the series, then this should not pose any problems.
Can Kids Play it?
Fans of earlier games in the series should not fear too much change though. You may be able to create and power up your own Skylanders, but the rest of the game operates very similarly to previous games. Kids will be able to transfer all of their knowledge from previous games right into this one without a problem
That said, the game does feature a fair amount of platforming so it is important to make sure your kids know how to jump and navigate 3d spaces. The good news is that falling off of the world doesn’t actually cost you anything other than time as characters immediately respawn on solid ground.
This is a must purchase for fans of the series. I also recommend this as a great starting point for anyone who is interested in playing .
We played the game on Xbox One, but it is also available on Xbox 360, PS4, PS3, and Wii U.
Note: The Xbox One version of Skylanders Imaginators was provided to EFG for review purpose.