Saturday, 21 December 2013

Skylanders Swap Force XBox 360 Starter Pack & Lightcore Grim Creeper
































When Abby was 3, her cousins introduced her to Moshi Monsters, which she fell in love with, and still is! Now that she's 5 and has gained a greater amount of interest in playing video games (certain amount of new rules had to be set), she has taken on interest in Skylanders as well, also introduced by her cousin (haha no, I don't blame them, gaming is part of this family)! It was really nice of the PR for letting us review the new Skylanders Swap Force Starter Pack, and we even did a video review for one of their Swap Force figure - Lightcore Grim Creeper! An early Christmas present for both Abby and me!








































Skylanders Swap Force Starter Pack, Skylanders Swap Force XBox 360, Lightcore Grim Creeper Unboxing
















The Xbox 360 Skylanders Swap Force (SF) Starter Pack comes with a new Portal of Power (the old one won't work with the SF game and characters), series 3 Ninja Stealth Elf, SF swappable Wash Buckler and SF swappable Blast Zone. It also comes with character cards, stickers and character codes (for app games use), SF characters poster and game manual.


Before the game has arrived I have done some research (that's the gamer me!) on the game and characters, as for a person who hasn't played Skylanders before, it can be quite confusing. There are so many characters out there! I've learned quite a lot and thought I should share here with you some background information as well. If you aren't really sure why Skylanders Swap Force will make a great gift, perhaps for this Christmas, or why there are so many characters, then I hope this review can help shed some lights.

First of all, the Swap Force game isn't connected to the previous 2 games - Spyro Adventure (SA) and Giants, although it all happened in Skylands. So you don't need the previous games to play the 3rd game, nor to have played them to understand it. It is certainly not an expansion pack, so if your child (or even you) would still like to explore the previous 2 games, you'll have to get the starter packs for them. The SA and Giants characters, however, can still be used with the new SF game, and if I'm not wrong, the data stored inside each figure will still be recognised in SF.

The SF game has introduced 16 new specific SF characters, with the figures' bodies splittable into top and bottom halves that are connected magnetically. You can freely swap the bodies and create up to 256 character combinations, which the game will recognise. The characters in the game will have the elemental power from both elements used for the body, for example, fire and water for the characters in the above picture.

On top of the 16 swappable characters, they have introduced 16 new characters, brought back 16 old characters (called either series 2 or series 3 characters, depending on how many Skylanders games they've appeared in in total), and included 8 Lightcore versions of the characters too that lights up when placed on the Portal of Power. Every so often, Activision, the clever people behind the Skylanders games, will also secretly and randomly slot rare character variants in containers shipped to retailers. If you are lucky, you might be able to get yourself a rare figure that is priced the same as the normal figures.


Skylanders Swap Force Starter Pack, Skylanders Swap Force XBox 360, Lightcore Grim Creeper Unboxing
Skylanders Giants characters has a transparent orange base, and Swap Force a blue one
(Green for Spyro Adventure characters)

Skylanders Swap Force Starter Pack, Skylanders Swap Force XBox 360, Lightcore Grim Creeper Unboxing































Initially I didn't get why people will need so many characters to play a game. For the games I used to play (such as World of Warcraft, Guildwars, Diablo, etc) I only choose one character to play with and I was more than happy with it. Any additional characters will just be my extra storage, or trained up to be a crafter of some sort. But having understood the SF game, I understand now why you'll want to have more than one character, even if you aren't collecting them. Before I go on, let me explain how the characters are categorised:

By Elements
Each Skylanders Character belong to one of the following 8 elements:
Water, Fire, Earth, Air, Life, Tech, Magic and Undead

You can find this at the base of each character

By Abilities
Each Skylanders Swap Force Swappable Characters has one of the following 8 ability: 
Teleport, Spin, Climb, Rocket, Bounce, Speed, Dig, Stealth

You can find this on the gold hexegonal logo at the foot of the swappable characters


Skylanders Swap Force Starter Pack, Skylanders Swap Force XBox 360, Lightcore Grim Creeper Unboxing
Left: Gate requires Tech and Earth Swappable SF characters to unlock;
Right: Gate requires any Undead Skylanders to unlock

Skylanders Swap Force Starter Pack, Skylanders Swap Force XBox 360, Lightcore Grim Creeper Unboxing
Left: Battle gate unlocked after area is cleared;
Right: Requires SF Swappable character with stealth ability to unlock challenge

Skylanders Swap Force Starter Pack, Skylanders Swap Force XBox 360, Lightcore Grim Creeper Unboxing
Requires a Skylanders Giant character to unlock





















































The reason why you'll need more than one character:
In the SF game, there are locked areas where it requires a character of a particular element or ability to unlock. The areas aren't really part of the main story line, so even if you don't unlock them it's not really a big issue. However, they do open up to give you better treasure or skill booster, and if you want to maximise your game play, you might want to open these areas and chests up as well.

Although it sounded like it's a lot of hassle and money to collect the figures for the game, I think it's a fantastic idea. We all know that children have short attention span, which probably apply to many adults as well as I've seen a lot of adult players in the other games that has a lot of high level characters that they always play with. The problem with the other games is that you'll need to log out of the game before you can swap to another character, and then start the game all over again right from the beginning. This gets tedious and boring for people like me.

In SF, however, it is really easy to swap a character. You simply remove your current playing character figure from the Portal of Power, wait for the signal and put another character figure on. It takes about 5 seconds to swap a character which in no way affects your game at all. It makes the game play much more interesting, and apart from unlocking gates and chests, different elemental characters will benefit from bonus elemental attacks in certain areas of the game as well. 

With this, the game will suit most people's liking as well. People like me who are happy to stick to their favourites can just play the game with the character they like, and use others to unlock gates and chests only. People like Abby who gets bored easily with one character can swap to something else to freshen up the game for them, and for people who only care about abilities at the right moment, they have lots of combinations they can work on!

Although the game is advertised for 1 player only, you can actually add another player to the game to become the sidekick. Simply place another character figure onto the Portal of Power (although I think a similar combination of the swappable character that's already on the Portal of Power isn't allowed, a bit unsure about this). The characters will be linked by something that looks like an air flow that keeps the distance close between the 2 however, so you can't split up and venture to different areas, but you will level up both characters and you can share the "loot" (money and treasure). Anyhow, 2 players is always fun as long as there is no loot sharing issue.


Skylanders Swap Force Starter Pack, Skylanders Swap Force XBox 360, Lightcore Grim Creeper Unboxing

Skylanders Swap Force Starter Pack, Skylanders Swap Force XBox 360, Lightcore Grim Creeper Unboxing


























Another thing I like about the game is that the quests are really fun to do. There are the usual collect this and that quest for a non player character (NPC) yes, but there are also puzzles and construction etc kind of brain games too. The characters are also very funny. For example, Abby collected a Tiara, and she placed it on her Lightcore Grim Creeper. Suddenly we heard him (in the game) saying: "This hat will ruin my image!". Poor thing!

We also love the bright and colourful scenes that are beautifully designed. They are cute but not overly cute that will put an adult off. There is 4 difficulty mode, and Abby is finding the Easy mode a bit too easy for her! We might just start it on Normal next time and see how it goes.


Skylanders Swap Force Starter Pack, Skylanders Swap Force XBox 360, Lightcore Grim Creeper Unboxing
























Skylanders Swap Force Starter Pack, Skylanders Swap Force XBox 360, Lightcore Grim Creeper Unboxing

Skylanders Swap Force Starter Pack, Skylanders Swap Force XBox 360, Lightcore Grim Creeper Unboxing

























Apart from the Starter Pack, we were also sent the SF Lightcore Grim Creeper to review. Not only does he lights up nicely on the colourful Portal of Power (the Portal of Power is almost like a mood lamp! Love!), he glows inside the game as well! Click the video above for its unboxing review by Abby!


Skylanders Swap Force Starter Pack, Skylanders Swap Force XBox 360, Lightcore Grim Creeper Unboxing
Skylanders Swap Force Starter Pack, Skylanders Swap Force XBox 360, Lightcore Grim Creeper Unboxing






























While doing my research on Skylanders, I came across the rare (I think) Giant variant Scarlet Ninjini (she's really a giant even in game!) and series 2 variant Polar Whirlwind, both so pretty (Scarlet Ninjini seems to glow as well even if she's not a Lightcore) that I couldn't resist and bought them to add to our collection. Both me and Abby are going to collect a few more. Our next target is Lightcore Hex and Lightcore Star Strike! Characters price range from rrp £8.99 to rrp £14.99, but higher of course if you are seeking rare ones that can't be found in shops anymore. Although there can be quite a lot to collect, but it certainly makes buying presents easier! We've bought a couple of characters for my nephew's Christmas present to add to his collection!

What about you, are you already collecting them or just started like us? Perhaps you are a hardcore collector who collects the rare and limited edition ones, or simply enjoy the game with one favourite?


Disclosure: We were sent a game and figure for review purpose; all opinions are honest and our own

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