When the video game development company Toys for Bob was given the opportunity to revive a franchise originally created by the French multimedia company Vivendi, CEO Paul Reiche III chose the Spyro the Dragon series. Reiche was working on a new idea that would integrate video games and toys together into a unique gaming experience. After several years of development, Toys for Bob and Activision launched Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure for PCs and gaming consoles in late 2011. The game became the top seller for both consoles and handheld systems in 2012 and spurred the growth of a new Skylanders franchise.
Gameplay for Skylanders requires RFID-enabled character figures that are placed on the "Portal of Power" in order to "import" them into the game. In the story, the Skylanders are a band of heroes that use magical powers to keep peace in their world. The characters battle evildoers (known as Kaos) and protect the Core of Light. Following the success of the original game, three sequels have been released, as well as several mobile games. More than 250 million Skylanders toys have been sold, and it has become one of the most profitable video-game franchises of all time.
In order to play Skylanders on a console, new gamers need to purchase a starter pack that includes the physical game, a Portal of Power, and a few figures. The game is available for all the top platforms, including Wii U, PlayStation, and Xbox. To enhance gameplay and keep the game fresh, you can then buy additional character figures and vehicle figures that you can add to the game by pairing them with your console. Other editions of the game also call for the integration of special crystal figures. Gamers who prefer portable consoles can opt for the Skylanders Racing Edition--which is available for Nintendo 3DS.
In addition to all the figures that can be integrated into the video games, you can also find an array of Skylanders toys to play with when you are unplugged. Playsets let you bring some of your favorite settings from within the Skylanders games to life and pair them with your character figures to act out fun scenes of your own. Since Skylanders has garnered such a fan base, you can also find a slew of other products like coloring books, trading cards, headphones, backpacks, and lunchboxes that feature the characters. The franchise has even spawned a series of novels and a TV show with its own merchandise.
Skylanders covered uncharted ground when it introduced the "toys-to-life" method of gameplay, and Activision has carved out a unique niche for the popular series. Because there are so many characters and vehicles that can be added to each new version, it's almost impossible to get bored with the franchise, and many kids enjoy playing with their Skylander figurines even when they aren't being integrated with the game. Once you have purchased a starter pack, adding new figures can be done very affordably, and you can easily find characters to buy secondhand. We give Skylanders 4.5 stars out of 5.
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