Activision has once again ruined series

User Rating: 1 | Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure WII
Even for a series that has never exactly been stellar, Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure sets the bar particularly low. The story is exceptionally trite, the script asks very little of the voice-actors, and the gameplay is bare-bones simple (even as it holds your hand through the most rudimentary mental exercises). There are no platforming elements to speak of (you can't even jump in the console versions!) and practically any platforming-esque mechanic is either performed automatically (conveniently placed bounce-pads replace the aforementioned jumping) or is explained a half dozen times by in-your-face visual cues, constant narrative hints, and pop-up text explanations. The enemies in this game are laughable and should never pose the slightest threat to your life total. Graphically, the Spyro series was never really a powerhouse, and it is obvious that the same amount of effort went into this title. This could have been a PS1 title. It is marketed towards the elementary-school set, though, so it gets a pass. The toy mechanic itself is cute and sure to be a hit with kids from ages 9 to 90, but when taken as a whole with the design decisions in the game proper, it comes across as exceptionally aggressive marketing. Different characters basically play exactly the same as any other, even Spyro himself (which explains the loss of jumping and gliding: lazy design), with one financially relevant caveat. The element attached to each character serves as a key to access locked areas (ie: only a fire element skylander can unlock a fire element area) and a damage modifier is applied for certain elements in some areas as well. What this effectively does is force you to pay for additional figures in order to unlock the full content of your already expensive purchase. And why wouldn't you, after finding the character-specific advertisements sprinkled about each level that unlock abilities and short intro videos for figures that didn't come with the core package! There are already expansion packs available as well. When distilled to its purest form, Sklanders: Spyro's Adventure is essentially a poorly made toy tie-in game that thinks you or your children aren't intelligent enough to figure out how to solve basic challenges without being told exactly what to do in at least three separate ways. To unlock the full breadth of this franchise-turned-shovelware experience you must needs spend something to the tune of a hundred dollars, though you do get some cute toys in the process. And hey, at least there are hats.

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