When the idea of reviving the old Spyro series was first mooted circa 2008 it was not exactly met great enthusiasm. Bringing back old characters and game franchises has historically never been too successful in the industry and doing it to a well-loved series such as Spyro the Dragon was predicted to tarnish the game of a series that has sold over 20m units across the world.
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With this in mind the original developers, Toys for Bob, decided to take a different approach. Bring in a loveable character like Spyro but assume that the consumers that it is aimed at have no prior knowledge of the character and thus, rather than having him as a central figure, allow for a lot of creativity from the players point of view. This is how Skylanders was born and with 30 million toys sold and the video games being ranked number 1 in terms of sales for 2012 it is safe to say that this was a much better approach.
The innovative nature of the series which is now in its third instalment with Skylanders Swap Force has also brought legions of young fans to the franchise.
The system works by using a ‘portal’ or rather utilizing NFC (near-field communication) to choose which character to control and play with. These characters are bought in the form of toys, placed in the portal which is connected by USB to one of the consoles that Skylanders is compatible with (PS3, Xbox 360, Wii or Nintendo 3DS) and the user can then use that character in the game.
One of the major selling points of the Skylanders Swap Force toys is that there are so many of them. For the launch of the new console games this month there were no less than 61 figures that can be used with the portal. The new series includes 32 completely new figures with 16 core characters and another 16 that can be swapped.
Perhaps one of the best things about the new Skylanders Swap Force series is that the game can use hybrid characters. Essentially you can take the top half of one character, magnetically put it onto the bottom half of another and then play with this crossbreed in the game itself. Pretty good thinking on the part of Vicarious Visions who developed the new Skylanders for all platforms.
Indeed, the series is also moving onto the Next Gen consoles with a PS4 and Xbox One editions being released later this year.
The Next Gen, like the current platforms, will feature full starter packs which include several toys, the game itself, a portal, stickers, trading cards and a poster will all the characters.
Taking a highly successful series and modifying it in a way to ensure that it appeals to the current generation is no mean feat. Skylanders combines traditional toy figures with 21st century game consoles to create an entertainment series that is as popular as any that have preceded it.