|Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure|
|Developer(s)||Toys for Bob|
|Designer(s)||I Wei Huang|
Wii U (Japan only)
|Release||Microsoft Windows, Nintendo 3DS, OS X, PlayStation 3, Wii, Xbox 360|
|Genre(s)||Toys-to-life, role-playing, action adventure, platform|
Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure is the first video game in the Skylanders series, developed by Toys for Bob and published by Activision. It is an action 3D platformer video game that is played along with toy figures that interact with it through a "Portal of Power", that reads their tag through NFC and features the voices of Josh Keaton, Darin De Paul, Dave Wittenberg, Keythe Farley, Audrey Wasilewski, Joey Camen and Kevin Michael Richardson. It was released in October 2011 for North America, Europe, and Australia for PC (Windows, OS X), Nintendo 3DS, PlayStation 3, Wii, and Xbox 360.
Activision announced that as of June 3, 2012, the game had been the top selling console and handheld video game worldwide for 2012. As of March 31, 2012, Activision has sold over 30 million Skylanders toys, and sales are expected to exceed $500 million by the end of the year. A direct sequel, Skylanders: Giants, was released in 2012 for the Nintendo 3DS, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii, and Wii U.
There are 32 standard characters and 8 different elements under which characters are classified. The 8 elements are Magic, Water, Tech, Fire, Earth, Life, Air, and Undead. When the character figurines are placed on the "Portal of Power" peripheral, they appear in the game. The "Starter Pack" has three characters to start with – Spyro, Trigger Happy, and Gill Grunt. Each character has specialized statistics in areas such as health and speed. The player can also find hats for the characters, which further affect statistics. Special Elemental Gates require a Skylander with the corresponding element to pass through. With two players, only one player needs to be controlling a Skylander of the correct element.
In addition to the standard character figures that are available for purchase, there are also limited edition Gold, Silver, Crystal, Chrome, and Glow-in-the-Dark versions of certain characters.
This version of Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure is more of an action platformer than its console counterparts. Players have to complete levels by gathering crystals, which let them unlock more levels. Each level is littered with crystals, obtained by going towards the end of the level, or by completing a variety of tasks, such as defeating a certain number of enemies, or finding items. Whenever the player finds a crystal, an enemy awakens and a time limit starts. They have to defeat enemies, and get clocks in the level to get more time to ward off the chasing enemy. Unlike other versions, characters can make a jump, and a double jump. This version of the game is set in a different realm in Skylands called the Radiant Isles, and a different force of darkness is faced under the command of Hektore. Unlike the console versions, the starter pack for the 3DS version comes with the Skylanders Ignitor, Stealth Elf, and Dark Spyro.
Players take on the role of a powerful Portal Master, who can control over 30 different Skylanders, including the purple dragon, Spyro. Each of these heroes is a protector of an amazing, mysterious world, but they have been ejected from their world by the sinister Portal Master known as Kaos, and now, they are frozen in our world as toys. Only the players of Skylanders Spyro's Adventure can get them back into their world, by embarking on a fantastical journey where they will explore mythical lands, battle menacing, outlandish creatures, collect treasures, and solve challenging puzzles as a part of the quest to save their world.
The game begins with a village in Skylands being ravaged by a massive tornado. A small, bookish fellow named Hugo mentions the destruction of the "Core of Light" and an individual called "Master Eon". Suddenly, Spyro (provided by the player) appears and proceeds to save the villagers still trapped in the village and brings in Trigger Happy and Gill Grunt.
Following the rescue, the player is introduced to the Ruins and some of the game's backstory is explained. The Portal Masters had protected Skylands for as long as anyone could remember. Master Eon, the last good Portal Master in Skylands, and his Skylanders guarded the Core of Light, a great machine that enriched the world and repelling The Darkness, the ultimate force behind all evil. However, Kaos, an evil Portal Master who attempted to destroy the Core of Light in the past, returned from his banishment in the Outlands to destroy the Core to rule Skylands as its emperor, knowing that Eon has grown weaker with age. The Skylanders fought against Kaos' minions to protect the Core of Light. Just as they were winning the battle, Kaos unleashed a mysterious creature that successfully destroyed the Core, allowing The Darkness to take over and causing the Skylanders to be banished from their world. As the Skylanders were drifted farther away from the magic of Skylands, they began to shrink until they reached Earth, where they were turned into toys as a result of that world bearing no magic. Master Eon did not survive the destruction of the Core of Light, so he became a spirit and couldn't fight the Darkness without his physical body. He and the Skylanders then awaited for the arrival of a new Portal Master until one finally arrived: the young player, who finds the Skylands.
To restore the Core of Light, however, the player must collect several mystical objects. Chief among them are the Eternal Elemental Sources: the sources of Fire, Water, Earth, Air, Tech, Magic, Life and Undead that exist in Skylands. This is no small task, as Kaos is quick to notice and sends all of his minions out to destroy the new Portal Master and the Skylanders which Spyro recruits along the way. Despite his best efforts (among them creating dark copies of Skylanders), Kaos fails to stop the player and (with the help of several other characters met along the way) the Core of Light is restored. Humiliated and weakened, Kaos and Glumshanks retreat to the Outlands, Skylands' most desolate area. Not wanting to leave anything to chance, the player and the Skylanders journey to Kaos' Fortress, where they engage in a massive battle against the Dark Portal Master, his dark Skylanders and the Hydragon, the very beast responsible for the Core of Light's destruction and Master Eon's death.
In the end, Kaos is defeated. While he is unconcerned about being banished again, Eon's spirit informs him that he is being banished not to the Outlands, but to Earth. Hugo gladly sends Kaos to Earth, where he is apparently made the new chew toy of a dog.
Toys for Bob was given the opportunity to revive a Vivendi franchise, and they chose the Spyro the Dragon franchise. Paul Reiche III noted: "attempts to revive broad-audience mascot franchises haven't seen predictable success in the game industry. Just creating a new Spyro game after the traditional fashion was unlikely to work" and reinventing the character as a "really gritty, strange otherworldly Spyro" didn't seem like a promising idea. Reiche says he had considered integrating technology with toys and games for a while, and it was the kind of concept that was so outlandish that it was the most promising idea the team sketched out for the brand.
The game's original working title was Spyro's Kingdom from June 2009. The game was originally going to be a mature Spyro game with a much darker tone, that also included blood, but the developers of Toys for Bob lost their enthusiasm and felt that this direction did not feel like "Spyro". They spent six months on a variety of different directions with Spyro, and with the time and budget given by Activision.
Executive producer Jeff Poffenbarger stated that the game is geared more towards younger gamers who have no prior knowledge of the Spyro character.
To enable the game to work with the toys, the base of each toy contains an RFID chip which communicates wirelessly with the portal when in near proximity to inform the game which toy is currently active. The RFID chip also retains several key stats including gold, level and upgrades purchased and won through gameplay. Due to the use of RFID, the toys are portable between supported platforms while retaining their stats, allowing players to use their characters in other player's copy of the game with all upgrades in place. Additionally, two figures can be placed on the portal simultaneously, for cooperative or versus play.
The game's main story was penned by Alec Sokolow and Joel Cohen, both of whom worked on Pixar's original Toy Story film. The game was originally revealed to be exclusive for the Wii, but was eventually released on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, iPad, iPhone, the Web, Microsoft Windows and Macintosh computers.
According to the Sterne Agee analyst Arvind Bathia, Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure "is testing apparently very well with kids", who are the game's target audience.
Nickelodeon of Europe and Activision had worked together to help sponsor a tour called Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure Live to help promote the game, ranging from September 10–11 at Liverpool, Williamson Square to September 17–18 at London, Westfield Stratford.
The game has received generally favorable reviews. GameSpot gave it a 7.5 out of 10, praising its family-friendly gameplay and role-playing-style character progression, but criticized the lack of online multiplayer, the cost of buying a complete set of figures, the arbitrary inclusion of Spyro, and the unreliability of the Portal of Power peripheral. Nintendo World Report gave the game a 9 out of 10, praising the Wii version for its gameplay and production values, and the 3DS version for its accessibility to younger gamers and overall design. Gaming Nexus gave Skylanders a B+ and praised the game for taking the Spyro franchise to a younger audience once more, though noted that the game has a few flaws.
Destructoid gave the game an 8 out of 10 saying, "It's not the most complex game on the market, but the innovative gadgetry and authentic thoughtfulness on the part of the developer stands out in a market so used to churning out the same old crap." IGN gave Skylanders an 8.0 out of 10. Skylanders was nominated for two Toy Industry Association awards: 'Game of the Year' and 'Innovative Toy of the Year'.
ZTGD gave the game 8.7 /10 in a positive initial review (October 2011) and their follow-up article on 4 January 2012 noted a worldwide shortage of additional toys to the starter pack trio, an issue the manufacturer, Activision, warned of in November 2011 due to the significantly higher-than-expected demand.
During the first quarter of 2012, Skylanders was the third most profitable game in North America and Europe, including sales of accessories and figures. According to Activision's internal estimates, sales of Skylanders toys exceeded those of the number one action figure line at the time, Star Wars.
Over 30 million Skylanders toys have been sold worldwide. Toy sales from the first game were two to three times higher than Activision had originally expected, prompting the making of a sequel.
As of December 2012, the Skylanders franchise sold more than $500 million in retail sales in the U.S., inclusive of accessory packs and figures. In 2012 alone, Skylanders Giants, the sequel to Skylanders Spyro's Adventure—the #1 best-selling kids' game of 2011—generated more than $195 million in U.S. sales.
Sequels and other media
Activision announced a sequel, Skylanders: Giants, which was released in October 2012. A Web game called Skylanders: Universe was created as well but was discontinued on 29 April 2013. A second sequel, Skylanders: Swap Force, was released in October 2013. A third sequel, Skylanders: Trap Team, was released in October 2014. A fourth sequel, Skylanders: SuperChargers was released in September 2015.
On May 3, 2012, an illustrated novel titled: Skylanders: The Machine of Doom has been released on eBook applications, that is set as a canon prequel to the first Skylanders game. It was written by Cavan Scott under the pen name, "Onk Beakman". Later novel adaptions under the Skylanders: Mask of Power series were written following a year after the first book's release; they are set after the events of The Machine of Doom and are also prequels to the first Skylanders game. The eighth and final book in the Mask of Power series will be released on May 3, 2016.
Activison had commented on the possibility of a Skylanders movie and TV series as something that they could see themselves looking into in the future. While Activision confirmed on May 30, 2013 that there were no plans for a Skylanders movie adaption nor a TV series, on November 6, 2015, they announced the opening of Activision Blizzard Studios, who are in the process of developing Skylanders into a film and television series; the latter being called Skylanders Academy, which was released on Netflix in October 28, 2016.
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