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Skylanders Cloud Patrol

Score: 80%
ESRB: 9+
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Vicarious Visions
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Action/ Arcade

Graphics & Sound:

Skylanders Cloud Patrol is yet another way to feel better about that collection of Skylanders figures you might have been amassing since Spyro's Adventure was released last October. In other words, this app is another way to register your collection and use it in a game and make each piece even more useful.

Visually speaking, Cloud Patrol is a solid looking game for the iPhone. It doesn't have to do a lot, but it does definitely feels like it fits well with the other Skylanders adventures that have been released (i.e. the console games, handheld version and the online game). Each character and magical item looks about as good as they do on the bigger systems, and the floating islands that inhabit this universe fit the feel of the franchise perfectly.

The various sound effects and musical elements that accompany Cloud Patrol are good. The music is the same theme that Danny Elfman put together for the other games, while the various sound effects fit their visual counterparts. The aspect that I wish was included in this app, but isn't, are the comments the characters say when they are loaded in the console versions. There is just something about those voices that really helps to bring the characters to life, and quite frankly Boomer's "Boom boom boom" has become a frequently quoted statement around my house ... though I guess that's what he says when he is taken down and not selected.

That being said though, I can definitely understand why these voice clips were not included in Cloud Patrol. I can see the reasons begin anything from voiceover royalties to managing the size of the app, and I've long believed that most portable or mobile-based games that aren't specifically about the sound shouldn't rely on it heavily. After all, if it was a crucial element, then I wouldn't be able to listen to my music or simply have the sound off while playing it.


While Skylanders Cloud Patrol aptly takes on the look and style of the other Skylanders games, it isn't the same gameplay. In fact, Cloud Patrol is more or less whack-a-mole, just with your Skylander in a cannon shooting at trolls rather than furry pop-up rodents.

You fire at your targets in a couple of different manners. You can either tap at them and send single-shot volleys at your enemy, or you can swipe your finger across the screen and draw a line. Each target you swipe across will get hit when you lift your finger. It sounds simple enough right? Well, the game has a way of throwing you quite a few curveballs as you frantically make your way across its stages. The main obstacles in your path are floating spiked bombs. If you shoot one, it's game over, no ifs, ands or buts ... well, except for one, but I'll get to that in a bit.

Stages come in a few flavors. A majority of the screens you will be shooting at will simply have the trolls sitting or flying around a collection of floating islands. The bombs will try and get in your way, but these stages are fairly straightforward. Another type are the Hideout stages. Here, you are tasked to take down a specific number of trolls. They appear behind walls in waves, along with bombs, of course, and you won't be able to leave until you either die or take down your requisite amount. The final stage type is Bonus where items like sheep and barrels will bounce across the screen. The more you shoot, the more coins and points you earn.

Skylanders Cloud Patrol also finds a use for the magic items that come with the level packs. These are items like Hidden Chest, Healing Elixir, and Time Twister. They will occasionally fly across the screen, and if you shoot them, you get the ability to activate that particular power. They all have different effects, and most apply a score multiplier while they are in use. For example, Anvil Rain drops anvils from the sky and takes out one or more trolls while in use, while Sky-Iron Shield keeps you from taking damage for a limited time. Interestingly enough, Healing Elixir acts as a continue (for a cost) so that you can keep going even after tapping a bomb and having it blow up in your face.

Each of these items can be upgraded with the in-game gold you collect, but gold isn't the only currency in Cloud Patrol. The game will give you several challenges like "Shoot 25 Projectiles," or "Shoot 15 Hats," or "Collect 2000 Coins." Each of these goals will yield a certain number of Soul Gems and it's through collecting those that you not only level up in the game (basically increase the difficulty), but also buy additional Skylanders and magic items.

What's really nice is that you can use the Skylanders that you've purchased for the other games in Cloud Patrol. You just use the barcode that came with your character to link them to your game and it is added to your collection. While this is great, I have to say, this is also where one of the game's few shortcomings rears it's tedious head. There is no barcode scanner built into Skylanders Cloud Patrol. While the codes are just eight characters long (not including the dash), if you have any kind of collection, the initial load can be tiresome. Maybe it's a small thing and maybe I'm a little lazy, but it would have been a nice feature nonetheless, and since there are still Skylanders figures to be released, it isn't too late for this feature to be added and be useful to even those of us who happen to be caught up in the released characters.


Skylanders Cloud Patrol is all about lasting as long as possible and then going back in the hopes of lasting longer or getting more money. So, while the first few stages in a playthrough always seem simple enough, it isn't long before the game throws more types of trolls at you as well as more bombs for you to deftly dodge.

Cloud Patrol also finds a few ways to trick you. Sure, simple things like throwing bombs in your way while frantically tapping on the mass of trolls feels like a cheap defeat, but when the game starts doing things like putting hats on the bombs, or putting bombs behind shields that trolls normally use, you feel like you either narrowly escaped a game over or your defeat wasn't quite so sour.

In any case, Skylanders Cloud Patrol never left me feeling frustrated and I almost always wanted to immediately jump into another round of troll-shooting. Sometimes I would last longer than the previous run and sometimes I wouldn't, but there was always enough of a slight difficulty hike to keep me interested.

Game Mechanics:

Like I said at the beginning, Skylanders Cloud Patrol feels like another way to help justify those figures you have been collecting for the past few months. After all, the more ways you can use them, the more useful each one is... right?

Anyway, while having Skylanders figures and adding them to your game means you get more use out of each one you've purchased, the game's in-game currency means that you can even use characters and magic items that you don't already own. Of course, Activision has added a micro-transaction system to this app. You can spend real money to buy Soul Gems so that you can unlock characters and items that you don't actually own. What's nice is that when you do buy the figure in the real world and register it with the game, you get that figure's initial cost back.

I found this to be a nice bit of detail that shows neither the game, nor Activision, really wants to punish you for being overzealous in your in-game purchases when you happen to purchase, in the real world, one of the characters missing from your collection.

While Skylanders Cloud Patrol isn't much more than a hyperactive whack-a-mole game, it is still a lot of fun and fits well into the Skylanders franchise. I can't say it's really worth the purchase for someone not already into and invested in the games, but for those of us that are, the $0.99 cost for the app is a low entrance fee. Then again, if you are like me and are as invested in these games as I am, then the price of the app is a small drop in the bucket compared to the rest of the costs associated with Skylanders.

-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

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