I got a sneak peek at the new Spyro game last week during a tour of the game’s developer Toys for Bob. While I’ll leave the whole story about the developer for another post, I wanted to talk about the game itself right now: Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure.
Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventures isn’t what I expected. Rather than a merchandise led game, it offers a fresh experience for both toy and game consumers and all in one collectible package.
Spyro used to be a big deal in the world of video-games, but then so did a lot of other “backstaged” characters. Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure dusts off the diminutive blue dragon and sets him (her?) at the head of an entirely new franchise.
Before you rush off to other more exciting games though, you need to know that there is more going on here than meets the eye. Hearing that there are a set of collectable toys to complement the game may not pique your excitement, or even the fact that these toys are built around technology so that each of them can be controlled in the game when placed upon the included magic portal peripheral.
The real excitement, for me at least, was the sheer imagination, quality and craftsmanship that each of these plastic characters has had lavished on it. Something about the close relationship between the toy and the videogame has made both parts richer. This is immediately evident in the toys which exude quality, in terms of the materials used, attention to detail and number of paint passes.
I had the chance to spend some time at the studio with the people who are making the videogame and the toys and it substantially changed what I thought about the game and how I thought toys were created in general. Rather than focus groups or a committee, the toys here were headed up by I-Wei Huang, a videogame character designer who happened to also have a hobby of making characterful robots in his spare time.
This, together with Studio Boss Paul Reiche’s enthusiasm for modelling and painting characters – something that reflects his love of Dungeons and Dragons and Tolkien – created what must be a unique artisan approach to the creation of a mass produced toy.