A (Not So) Gentle Reminder: Pirates Do Whatever The Heck They Want, Arrrr!

TLAPD SkylandersSo (Ouch!). Yesterday was International Talk Like A Pirate Day and for a while I’ve always managed to more or less avoid “celebrating” that non-holiday that’s become one too many people take seriously (Ouch!). Anyway, I thought I’d make it clean through the day and not HAVE to post a single eyepatch, booty, or “Arrrrr” reference and actually did so, going to bed around 2am or so with a clean conscience.

That didn’t last long thanks to something resembling a pair of plastic hammers thumping me on the head until I woke up (Ouch!).

It turns out those Skylanders toys from the hugely popular game series? Yeah, they’re REAL. And tend to get really annoyed when they get ignored (Ouch). So, here’s a nice, belated post to go do something piratey yesterday(Ouch!) or ALL the time, not just on that designated day. Why? Well, because (and in case you didn’t read the title of this post)… pirates do whatever the heck they want! (Ouch!)… “Arrrrr!” Hey, Activision? Can you come and get this little guy out of my house? Those plastic hammers may be tiny (and plastic), but they do leave little dents in everything he hits. Hey, (Ouch!) I’ll trade him back for a PS3 or Wii U copy of Skylanders Trap Team (coming to PS3/PS4, Xbox 360/Xbox One, Nintendo Wii/Wii U, Nintendo 3DS/2DS and Apple, Samsung, Amazon and Google tablets on October 5, 2014. Okay, is that enough? OUCH! Okay, okay… I’ll post the other video, too:

There, HAPPY now? (Ouch!) Okay, okay! AND I’ll buy the game too! (Great, now I’ll have that goofy song looping in me head allll dayyyyy, arrrrr!)

Skylanders Trap Team: Your New Fix Lands This October With Even More Innovation!

Aha! Activision WAS being pretty stealthy this year at Toy Fair. Nothing to show ON the floor and I didn’t ask for an appointment at the booth this year (nor did I get an invite), so I figured they were taking the year off to retool for next-gen fun. Nope. Here’s this year’s blast of “We’re going to get your money and a LOT of it”: Skylanders Trap Team, rolling out in October for consoles (PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Wii U, 3DS) , but of course, pre-orders kick off earlier (April 23, 2014 here in North America). Press release below the jump, gallery coming tomorrow, as I’m running late today and need to zip back home… Continue reading

Review: Skylanders SWAP Force

Skylanders SWAP Force PS3Platform: PlayStation 3 (Also on Xbox 360, Wii U, Wii, 3DS)

Developer: Vicarious Visions/Beenox

Publisher: Activision

# of Players: 1

ESRB Rating: E10+

Official Site
Score: A- (90%)

With this year’s installment of the series, Skylanders SWAP Force, veteran developer Vicarious Visions (with an assist from Beenox) takes over from Toys for Bob and bumps up the console versions to to HD quality visuals (save for the Wii version) while adding a few new play mechanics. More importantly, there are a new set of Skylanders with swappable top and bottom halves and plenty of locked off areas in the game that will send parents zipping into stores to buy new figures on a regular basis. That the gameplay is so basic yet compelling and all those enticing gated-away goodies the perfect opportunity to market new toys to kids and parents is exactly the formula any game company would kill to have in play. Skylanders has worked from the beginning in successfully roping nearly anyone who picks it up into its charms and while SWAP Force is the best looking and playing game to date, Activision also needs to kick things up a notch in the future, as you can practically hear the call of a more open world game experience with even more to do bellowing from those sweeping panoramic backgrounds… Continue reading

Review: Skylanders Giants (PS3)

Platform: PS3

Developer: Toys for Bob

Publisher: Activision

# of Players: 1

ESRB Rating: E 10+ (Everyone 10+)
Official Site

Score: B+ (85%)


As a sequel to the last year’s hugely successful Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure, Skylanders Giants does exactly what it should and well enough that the kids it’s aimed squarely at won’t even notice its handful of mostly minor flaws. The goal of the game is to get kids to bug the heck out of their parental units to buy more Skylanders figures to use on that now USB-connected Portal of Power and the gameplay is fun enough to get you to plunk down those hard-earned dollars even if you don’t have kids and happen to be interested in trying this one out just for fun. Despite the still sluggish economy in some sectors, Activision and Toys for Bob have more of a cash calf to the original’s cash cow status that’s well worth a play.

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New Additions: Busy Week (Part 1)

In addition to some digital releases I need to download (or already) have downloaded and started playing, a few more new retail releases have shown up, so I’ve been a bit buried in playing through some of them for reviews next week. Skylanders Giants is quite fun and yes, going to get wallets drained from all the cool figures kids will be asking parents to buy. Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two I’ll be reviewing at least twice (PS3 and Wii versions). I should have asked for a Wii U version come to think of it, but I had put in a request so long ago that I wasn’t sure if Nintendo’s new console was getting one. Now, I’ll need to play it for the Gamepad functionality. Reviews on this one are embargoed for a few days, but I think I can get away with saying the game is fantastic so far.

Speaking of Wii U games, Batman: Arkham City Armored Edition is the first of a few Wii U titles I have coming (my system should arrive either Saturday or Monday), so I’m thrilled to see what changes Rocksteady has made to the award-winning game. Reading the back of the case, it’s definitely going to be the most complete version of the game to date and it’s packing a ton of new content as well. And hey – Nintendo DS games are still being made, kids. Thundercats and Jewel Quest: Cradle of Egypt 2 are here and fun for the road (or at home). Oh yeah, the Lollipop Chainsaw in the pic? I finally got around to buying a copy, so I’ll get around to reviewing that one after the newer stuff. The first few stages had me in stitches, so that’s a good sign…

Toy Fair 2012: Skylanders Giants: Activision’s Other (Not-So) Secret Weapon For 2012

Despite all the skeptics (professional and otherwise) out there predicting all sorts of astronomical failure for the product, Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventures was a massive hit for Activision and veteran developer Toys for Bob across multiple platforms, transforming the gaming landscape with a crossover product that combined a solid, fun video game with collectible figures. At Toy Fair 2012, the next wave of Skylanders was rolled out to what looked like pretty positive overall response. Skylanders: Giants introduces eight new characters into the fold including four huge elemental hulks that change up the gameplay considerably.  If last year’s success caught Activision off guard, this year they’re loaded for bear and ready to rake in even more of your gaming and collecting dollars…

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Activision Shakes Up The Toy & Gaming Scene With New Spyro This Fall

I've seen plenty of cool “interactive” toys before (most of which I recall from a few trade shows over the years) mainly geared towards kids that could be connected to PC's for online gaming. Then there were a few oddball Japanese toys I can also recall that could sync to game consoles which failed to take off outside of that country. This year, It looks as if Activision has taken that formerly nascent technology to the next level by blending old and new elements and taking the idea to the Wii (and eventually 3DS) starting this fall. Skylanders – Spyro's Adventure is a unique collaboration between Activision and it's Novato, CA-based studio Toys For Bob that looks to give kids a great reason to collect and hang on to a really cool set of figurines. What's here is being touted as “a wholesale change in the interaction between toys and video games, opening up new possibilities and revenue streams for both industries.” A bold statement, no doubt… but it just may be correct. This has been tried previously in gaming, but I'll surprise you all with that in a feature I'm planning in a few weeks.

Full press release, screens and an event video below the jump – Toy images to come in a separate posting. I'll get some hands-on time at Toy Fair over the next few days and get back to you folks with a report.

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