This week, The Toy Book got a chance to preview Activision Publishing Inc.’s upcoming Skylanders Swap Force video game and toys at an after-school event in New York City. The original entry in the series, Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure, pioneered the idea of video games that interact with real-world toys. Now comes Skylanders Swap Force, in which special action figures can be disassembled into top and bottom halves and then reassembled into new characters that are playable within the game.
The game itself is as visually rich and immersing as previous entries in the series (although Playstation 4 (PS4) version takes the experience to a whole new level, but more on that later). At the demo, kids and their parents got to preview the levels, “Rampant Ruins,” a creepy jungle graveyard, and, “Winter Keep,” in which the Skylanders heroes have to retrieve a special device called the Illuminator—all while dodging huge flying snowballs. Each level features mini-games that vary in play style, keeping things from ever getting too repetitive. At one point during “Winter Keep,” the game switches from more traditional combat to a race through the sky along “rainbow rails.”
The toys are also versatile. Thanks to the new swapping mechanic, kids are encouraged to explore and experiment on their way to solving problems in the game. They can unlock characters that fight and move in different ways, depending on their top and bottom halves, respectively (they magnetize together). It should also be noted that although the video game is the main draw, the figures themselves are durable, well-sculpted, and as much fun as traditional toys.
The upcoming PS4 version of Skylanders Swap Force features even richer colors, and visuals on-par with a big-budget, 3-D animated film. All versions use the same toys.
Skylanders Swap Force will be available in North America on October 13 for the Nintendo Wii, Wii U, and 3DS; Xbox 360; and PlayStation 3. It will be available for PlayStation 4 on November 15, and Xbox One on November 22.