After five games full of new Skylanders characters, players will be in charge of creating their own heroes in the popular toys-to-life game.
Skylanders Imaginators is the first game in the series to let players design their own Skylander from scratch and upgrade it with new looks, weapons and attacks.
Imaginators is the sixth installment in the franchise and launches on Oct. 16 in North America and Oct. 14 in Europe.
Inspired by fan drawings
Imaginators is by developer Toys For Bob this year. With each passing year, it gets more difficult to come up with a new idea to make Skylanders new and refreshing, Toys for Bob Audio Director Dan Neil told Mashable.
One year it was giant Skylander toys (some of which lit up), then it was swappable body parts and last year Skylanders added vehicles into the mix.
“Since the release of Spyro’s Adventure, we’ve been getting drawings sent to us from kids all around the world.”
With Imaginators, players can now dream up their own creatures. No two Skylanders will ever look alike again. The inspiration for all this customizability? Kids, of course.
“Since the release of Spyro’s Adventure, we’ve been getting drawings sent to us from kids all around the world,” Neil said, as he showed me dozens and dozens of fan mail illustrations laid across a hotel room coffee table. “We get thousands of these. Kids are designing their own Skylanders. They’re designing the way they look, giving them names, giving them catchphrases, they’re giving them upgrades.”
And so Toys For Bob took that creativity, deciding to build tools into Imaginators that would not only give players (kids and adults) the power to design their own Skylander, but also make it easy for them to do so.
“Clearly, they’re telling us this is what they’re doing anyway, so let’s make that real for them and let’s allow them to put their imaginations onto the screens themselves,” Neil said.
Easy enough for kids to customize
A vial called the Creation Crystal contains a chunk of “Imaginite.” The starter pack comes with one of these, but they’ll also be available for $9.99 each in various different elements. When the Creation Crystal is placed on the NFC portal, it glows, pulsing to life like a heartbeat. Your custom Skylander is then stored in the Creation Crystal after its creation.
As Neil showed me, creating your own Skylander is really simple and easy to do. You start off with a battle class — a framework of sorts — which then defines the fighting style, upgrade tree and move sets your Skylander will get.
Then, it’s a matter of adjusting a bunch of sliders to change features like body size and proportions and selecting different body parts. The amount of customizable options is dizzying. You can even customize things like their muscles, catchphrases and how their voice will sound. I can see players spending hours just tweaking these settings. But if you just want to play and still want a Skylander that’ll surprise, thankfully, the developers have included a “randomize” option that’ll spit out a randomized Skylander.
“A big part of what defines a Skylander is their catchphrase, so we thought it was really important for us to find a way for kids to build their own catchphrase,” Neil said, showing me the editor that lets you mix the first half and second half of a catchphrase. “Like with everything in Skylanders, we put a lot of heroic phrases in there, but also some really silly stuff.”
Neil also showed me how you can choose a music theme song for your character, which will play throughout the game. Additionally, there are all kinds of sounds you can attach to your Skylander to give them even more personality.
Kaos wreaking havoc again
As a game primarily aimed at kids, you won’t find the most original story here. Instead, it’s similar to previous Skylanders games. The ball-headed Kaos has discovered “Mind Magic,” a power used by the “Ancients” to create things in life and is using it to create an army of “Doomlanders.” It’s now up to you (the portal master) to use your custom Skylander and its powers, along with the help of new, super-powered warriors called the “Senseis,” to stop Kaos and restore peace to Skylands.
I was shown the PlayStation 4 version of Imaginators, and the gameplay mechanics will be familiar to anyone who’s played a game in the series before. Players will battle their way across levels, solve puzzles and collect treasure to boost their Skylander’s abilities.
Throughout the game, players will find “Imaginite chests.” If you smash these open, they’ll get new things like weapons and costume pieces which can be used to further customize their Skylander.
Every Sensei Skylander has a new superpower move called the Sky Chi power — “the most powerful attack we’ve ever given to a Skylander in the franchise,” Neil said. That move has its own button on the controller, and Sensei’s still have the full upgrade tree of a normal character
Senseis will be sold separately and cost $14.99 each.
You don’t need me to say it, but I’ll say it anyway: Imaginators is a beautiful game. Though I only saw a small glimpse of it, it still looks like you’re playing an animated movie.
I’m not embarrassed to admit that I’m a huge Skylanders fan. I’ve played and completed every single game and while I am a huge fan of Mario Kart, last year’s SuperChargers left a lot to be desired.
With Nintendo’s amiibos flourishing and Disney pulling the plug on its Infinity games and figures, Activision and Toys For Bob are doubling down on the genre it pioneered. Imaginators looks to revitalize the series in new creative and imaginative ways than ever before.
Imaginators will come in a $74.99 starter pack, which includes two Skylander figurines, a Creation Crystal and an NFC portal. The game will be available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Wii U, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. A “Dark Edition” starter pack will also be available for $99.99.
You may be wondering, where are the 3DS, Wii and tablet (iOS and Android) versions of the game? Activision’s decided to jettison those platforms. A spokesperson told Mashable, the play patterns were radically different on the mobile versions compared to the console versions. (The Wii is a dead platform at this point.)
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