Wallets at the ready.
Last year the team behind Skylanders – the colourful plastic toys that magically appear as playable characters in their self-titled video games – broke new ground by introducing figures with swappable tops and bottoms. It meant you could combine the unique attributes of the various Swap Force characters and create hundreds of different creatures, capable of thwarting the dastardly plans of the evil Kaos.
The kids lapped it up and the sets flew off the shelves. It was a fantastic twist on a franchise that, at the time, had already mustered staggering global sales of over $1.5bn. Our review heaped praise on it and we were drawn into the charming world (https://gamingbolt.com/skylanders-swap-force-review).
So how on earth do you follow that…? You give players the chance to play the bad guy!
"A small speaker provides the illusion that they’re now locked inside and occasionally your detainee will let out a comical quip from their cell. Believe me, the reaction from children when they see an enemy leave the screen only to continue their wailing from the Portal is fantastic – it’s a great effect.
Who hasn’t wanted to play the villain occasionally? They always tend to look cooler, have the funniest lines and the best weapons… and in the case of Skylanders Trap Team, they also have their own signature tunes too.
The main story missions see Kaos up to his old tricks once again, this time breaking some of the biggest and baddest scoundrels in Skylands out of prison. Cue your attempts to track them down and stop them from causing all kinds of mayhem!
For a game franchise so focussed on transmitting physical toys placed on the supplied “Portal of Power” into your TV, it’s a real surprise when quite the reverse happens in the new game. This time round, the fourth wall is well and truly smashed, thanks to the clever tech employed by Activision and Toys for Bob.
When you defeat certain enemies, they’re captured and magically “transferred” from the screen to the plastic prison cell attached to the side of the Portal – assuming you’ve inserted an appropriate “Trap” (a kind of totem pole-shaped piece of plastic) in the adjoining slot. A word of warning… you only get two of these Traps with the starter pack so parents should get their wallets primed to stock up on more of these colourful contraptions! Failure to have the right kind of Trap (there’s one for each element) means the villain will be consigned to a virtual vault, waiting for you to access them at a later date after you’ve been shopping.
A small speaker provides the illusion that they’re now locked inside and occasionally your detainee will let out a comical quip from their cell. Believe me, the reaction from children when they see an enemy leave the screen only to continue their wailing from the Portal is fantastic – it’s a great effect. The only real downside is that when the console is switched off, the small coloured crystals aren’t exactly fun to play with, unlike the rest of the nicely-crafted Skylanders figures.
"It’s great in these days when backwards compatibility is such a rarity that Trap Team allows you to use all the toys you’ve accumulated from the previous games too. There are still level caps and some areas are restricted but it’s great that you can revive favourite characters and have them join you on this new quest.
Still, once you’ve got these captured foes at your mercy, a simple buttonpress will make them a playable character – for a limited period at least. When they’re accessed, a timer depletes and once that runs out they need to retire back to their prison for a little R&R so their energy can regenerate. The mechanic works very well and encourages players to swap and use their contained characters at times when they will prove most effective.
Gameplay in Trap Team is instantly familiar – with nothing markedly different from the previous outings other than the Trap mechanic. Besides the usual platforming hijinks, there are numerous mini-games and puzzles to keep you busy, including the strangely absorbing Skystones Smash card game, rail shooter sections and even some fairly bizarre music-based guitar hero-type segments.
It’s great in these days when backwards compatibility is such a rarity that Trap Team allows you to use all the toys you’ve accumulated from the previous games too. There are still level caps and some areas are restricted but it’s great that you can revive favourite characters and have them join you on this new quest. Like all the other Skylanders before them, the Trap Master heroes, the new mini characters and the bad guys all have a distinct personality and charm. The Starter Pack we received for review contained the game and Portal, two figures (Food Fight – a small critter who shoots tomatoes, and Snap Shot – a bow and sword-wielding powerhouse), two Traps (Life and Water elements), character sheets, trading cards and a poster.
"Trap Team is yet another brilliant entry from Activision and promises hours of enjoyment. The new toys are great, the “Trap” innovation is fun and unique, while the story, arenas and Doom Challenges – and all those collectibles – mean there’s plenty of reason to revisit this magical world.
As ever, the visuals are fantastic, sharp and cartoony. Each in-game character perfectly resembles their little plastic toy and they’re well made and suitably resilient to young hands. The environments are nicely detailed and full of activity, with various paths to take and plenty of collectibles to gather. The backgrounds are also really attractive, with something always happening somewhere in the distance. Sound-wise, the effects are great too – whether it’s the cut scenes with their trademark humour to the splat of a suitably-silly weapon, or the growling and chatter of an incoming enemy. And the sounds emanating from the Portal speaker are nice and clear.
There are three main game modes on offer: the main campaign, the Kaos Doom Challenge – a horde and tower defence mode where you have to survive wave after wave of enemies – and the Arenas. The story missions, in particular, are of decent length and a fair old challenge on the higher difficulties. Played co-operatively they’re a blast too, although there’s no split screen so you can’t wander too far from one another as a rubber band pulls you back together, which can be a little distracting, confusing and restrictive at times. Signposting is very good with big arrows popping up over doors that need to be unlocked or people you need to talk to, but there is ample opportunity to go off the beaten track and explore. Each stage has countless hidden items to find and an abundance of treasures, offering extra replayability for the more dedicated gamers in search of 100% completion and all those achievements.
Trap Team is yet another brilliant entry from Activision and promises hours of enjoyment. The new toys are great, the “Trap” innovation is fun and unique, while the story, arenas and Doom Challenges – and all those collectibles – mean there’s plenty of reason to revisit this magical world. Sure, it’s a little easy and you’ll quickly upgrade your characters, and there’s still the fact that portions of the game will be inaccessible unless you spend more cash, but it shouldn’t deter you from what is a great game for all the family.
This game was reviewed on Xbox One.
The “Trap” element is really effective and it’s great to play the villain. The new characters are well designed – and all your old figures are still useable. Plenty to see and do, and great fun in co-op.
To access everything you’ll need to spend big. Gameplay feels a little too familiar and the story missions are easy and over all too quickly. The Traps are clever but unlike the figures, you can’t physically play with them.
Another fun-filled Skylanders adventure with a cool new twist