Activision Prints More Money

Activision has been making a lot of waves over the past few years. With major properties like Call of Duty on their roster, itís not hard to see why they have been able to grow as much as they have, but it really amuses me how much of a risk the company took with Skylanders: Spyroís Adventure. I mean, think about it, this isnít just a game. They had to commission toys and portals to be built and distributed. This risk is more than any standard software release. If it failed, it would have failed big.

But it didnít. Iíve seen numbers that says Skylanders was the biggest selling property of 2011, and Iím sure, like most marketing statements of that sort, itís all about how you carve up the numbers, and Iím sure that statement includes the number of Skylanders figures (and why not, it is game content Ö sort of). No matter how you look at it though, Skylanders made a big impact, not only on Activisionís ledger, but also how players can interact with games. It is so much of an impact that Nintendo has added an NFC reader to their Wii U GamePad. Will a future Wii U Skylanders not have a portal? Just put your figure near the GamePad? But thatís all beside the point. This year, Activision is releasing a new game with new figures, and any fan of the last game will find it really easy to transition to the new one.

Skylanders: Giants will be a game with the same feel, both in gameplay and size, as the previous title, but it will not only add a few new characters to the playlist, it will also add larger Skylanders called Giants. These characters are about twice the size of the normal ones, and they pack a bigger wallop and have no problems lifting up boulders and other items that the normal characters canít.

There are eight giants, one for each element, but we got some playtime with the life character Tree Rex. This character is a brawler with close range attacks like charging, and while he is slower than most, he definitely makes up for it in brute force. In the level we played through, cannons were firing at us, but well-thrown boulders were enough to take them out. The best part is, you donít actually need any giants to beat the game.

Like the first game, you could theoretically make your way through the entire game with just one character. The only times when you might have had trouble with that is in the boss battles that can tear through your characters with ease. Sure, you wouldnít unlock everything, but you could win. Well, the same goes here. While the Giants do provide different paths to the end goal, you can still get through it with just a single character.

Itís because of that, that Skylanders: Giants will come in a variety of packages. There will be the Starter Pack for those that donít have a portal, but there will be a disc only version that lets old players continue on without any extra hardware. I did find it interesting that the developer I talked to said they had not planned on releasing a version with a Giant, those would be sold separately.

So what else is in store for the new Skylanders game? Besides the Giants, there are eight new characters like Jet-Vac who is an air type the behaves a lot like Gill Grunt. Several of the previous Skylanders will be re-released in new poses, and some of the new Skylanders will light up when they get close to the Portal. These light-up ones are called Light Force, and when they are called into battle, they have an area effect that clears out the enemies in their immediate surroundings.

Skylanders: Giants also ups the level cap from 10 to 15 and adds a new attack to each of the characters. Interestingly enough, any original character from the old game re-released for the new game, even if its a new model of that character, is able to be played in the old version of the game. If youíve gone past level 10, then Spyroís Adventure will make the necessary adjustments. On the flip side, all of the characters from your first game can be brought into Giants without any issues.

We noticed that all of the new figures had an orange base as opposed to the green one the first generation figures had. When asked, the developer we were demoing the game with verified that this was to make it easy to see which figures went with which version, which could be really handy if a younger gamer canít figure out why Jet-Vac or Tree Rex wonít show up in Spyroís Adventure.

Last year, Toys for Bob created the game for the Wii only and other companies were responsible for the ports to the other systems. This time around, Toys for Bob is doing all of the systems. The only exception is that Vicarious Visions is once again handling the 3DS release. You can expect to see Skylanders: Giants on the Xbox 360, Wii, PS3 and 3DS this October. In the meantime, check out the trailer below.