EB Expo – Building a Buddy in Skylanders Imaginators

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Skylanders Imaginators - Magic Creation Crystal

Character creation has always been a big draw to games for me – I think I spent more time recreating my favourite characters in the SoulCalibur series’ creation tools than I did actually playing the games. It’s a great way to add your own personal touch to a game, and to get more invested in a character because it’s one you made yourself. So when it was revealed that the gimmick of this year’s Skylanders game would be to create your own characters, I was immediately onboard. I got to try out the creation system at EB Expo and take my own custom Skylander for a test drive in the Crash Bandicoot-themed level.

The creation process begins with selecting the element and battle class of your Skylander, which influences their abilities. The Skylander’s element is determined by the Creation Crystal toy that they’re saved on – these are new toys which are assigned a specific element that can’t be changed. The one I got was a Magic element crystal. When the crystal is loaded onto the portal, you then get the choice of a battle class. The reps stressed that this can’t be changed once it’s set. It’s good that they’re making people aware of this, but it’s a frustrating decision nonetheless – there’s no way of knowing whether your element/class combination suits your playstyle until you’ve gotten hands on with them, and by that time it’s too late. I settled upon the Quickshot class, which gives your Skylander two pistols to wield.

Once that’s done, you get to design how your Skylander looks and behaves. I had to hold myself back here because if given all the time I wanted I would have been there for hours and held up the queue, but I still got a good look at how in-depth you can get with your creations. You can choose from a large variety of parts and tweak them in terms of size and colouring. Then you can equip your Skylander with different equipment that boosts their stats. I was aiming to make a superhero-style Skylander but that vision was lost once I realised you could make them gigantic with a teensy-tiny head, and so the final product was some sort of horrific Jay Garrick/Cyborg combination.

Skylanders Imaginators - Custom Magic Quickshot Skylander

Once you’ve settled on their appearance, you can alter their personality as well by changing their voice and catchphrase. I didn’t realise that’s what these option were for at the time so I’m not sure what mine ended up saying (he had a robot voice anyway, so you wouldn’t understand him) but you can combine a number of pre-set phrases to make some funny sayings. You can also give some flair to your Skylander by changing their aura (glitter for the win!) and changing the sound effects that play when they attack enemies.

You won’t start off with every creation piece from the get-go, which is the standard in a lot of games with creation tools like these. The equipment boosts your stats, so by all means lock those away as rewards, but when you can’t give life to the vision in your head until X hours into the game it’s more of an annoyance than an incentive. Thankfully you can edit your character’s appearance as many times as you like, so if you find a nicer head you can slap it on later. If only real life were so kind.

Unlocking new parts is handled via Imaginite Mystery Chests, and I managed to get some clarification on how these work. The saves on the machines we were playing on already had some chests available for use that were rewards for placing crystals on the portal and playing through the game’s levels. You could open them and get a selection of parts added to your library. Parts belong to sets, and if you get all the parts in a set then you unlock an additional bonus piece from that set. In addition to the in-game unlocks, you can buy physical blind bags that contain either a Bronze, Silver or Gold chest inside. These physical toys give you a chest full of 9 random parts, the rarity of the parts is determined by the quality of the chest. People had a few questions about how these worked, so hopefully I can clarify a few of these concerns. The good news is that these physical chests don’t unlock anything you can’t earn through normal gameplay – there’s no exclusive parts, they’re merely a timesaver if you don’t want to go hunting for chests in the game. The not so good news, is that these chests are one-time use – pop it on the portal and redeem it, and that’s it. You can’t re-open it later in the game and you can’t give it to a friend to redeem on their save file. It’s pretty much a microtransaction boost given a physical form. Not really sure what they’re thinking with these since most people won’t want the physical chests taking up space, and collectors wouldn’t need more than one of each chest.

So, with my beautiful cyborg Skylander ready to go, I jumped into the Crash Bandicoot-themed level from the Thumpin’ Wumpa Island Adventure Pack. You couldn’t play through the entire level, but there was enough to get a feel for it. Crash fans will feel right at home, because its design harkens back to the world of Crash Bandicoot, from Wumpa fruit scatted across the levels to bouncy crates. There’s a musical-theming running through the level, with a few puzzles revolving around rhythm and new outfits for series-regular enemies. Most notably, some areas won’t let you progress until you solve a short rhythmic puzzle – coloured statues surround the area, and you need to bounce on coloured, bouncy platforms in the same order as the statues appear.

Skylanders Imaginators - Sensei Figurines

I set up my Skylander so that he had a spread shot attack and a teleport dash, which made him feel similar to Stormblade from Superchargers. The abilities complemented each other well – I could dash into an enemy, which would send them into the air where I could continue to juggle them with shots from my pistols. If things got too much then I could dash away to put more space between me and my opponents. I got lucky with my element and class selection because I love this style of play. The combat was really fluid, and I can imagine it only gets better as you unlock new abilities.

When playing through the level, there were alternate pathways that could be find which hid different collectibles. One of these is a new type of collectible, and I love them a lot – in certain areas of the game, you can now take selfies of your Skylanders. Once the Selfie Spot has been triggered, you can position and pose your Skylander and angle the camera the way you want, and then save the photo onto your console. It’s a great way to share your creations with the world and give them a bit of personality.

I got the chance to play as Crash as well, but since it was the same level segment as before I didn’t spend too much time with him. It was cool seeing him in a game again, and his design was faithful to both the worlds of Crash and Skylanders. He comes packed with his trademark spinning and sliding moves.

Skylanders Imaginators - Crash Bandicoot Figurine

 

Everyone who attended the booth got to take their custom Skylanders home, and they’ll work with the retail build of the game when it’s released later this month, so that was a nice way to get people invested in the game beforehand. I’m probably going to be remaking mine from scratch to give him a more… flattering appearance, but I enjoyed getting to try out different aspects of the game ahead of time. Skylanders Imaginators will launch on October 13th for PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One and Wii U. No Wii version this time around. You can keep up to date with Toys to Life releases by checking out our calendar.

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