With the ever increasing number of shiny new buttons and sparkly new dials it’s easy to overlook the features we already have on our electronic devices. I’ve been reacquainting myself with my TV’s Picture In Picture feature to solve one of the problems my kids had with Skylanders — no split screen mode.
Maybe it’s my boy’s age (4 and 7 years) that means they find it frustrating to always have to go the same way — or at least stay on the same screen. At times I’ve used the whole setup to get them better at collaborating and communicating with each other. They have got used to it over time, and will now tolerate the imposition with a degree of cordiality.
As a treat this weekend I set about rigging up a split-screen version of Skylanders. We have the game on both the Wii and 360, for reasons I won’t bore you with here, and a Samsung TV that has HDMI and component inputs. Most importantly though, it has a nice little Picture In Picture mode that until now I’ve not really thought twice about.
Switching to the Picture In Picture mode I could then select the inputs from the Wii and the 360. This places one output on the main screen and one in a small box. A few more presses of the remote and you can select how the screen real-estate is shared out. We opted to stretch the two outputs vertically to fill two halves of the screens; it looks odd at first but your eyes soon get used to it — in fact the kids didn’t even notice.
The funny thing is that although they now don’t have to argue over which level to choose they still instinctively wanted to both choose the same one. They then play through the level side by side in split screen mode, entirely independently. When they have friends over they like to use this setup to play four player split-screen Skylanders.
There was a little confusion at times about which portal belonged to which side of the screen, but that was soon solved by keeping them next to their corresponding side. The boys also discovered that when a Skylander died in one game they could just swap and use him in the other game.
As you can see in the photos here, it also gives them the option to switch games. While one of them plays Wii Sports Resort (Table Tennis is still a family favorite), the other can carry on playing Skylanders. They have even had a bunch of friends round with a spare Wii and had an eight player game of Go Vacation that kept them entertained for hours.
Picture In Picture (PiP) has become a must have feature of our next TV, but I noticed while researching this post that it is rarely listed on comparison tables of TV features. Perhaps the assumption that PiP is a default feature now, but I still come across new TVs without it. I wonder if your TV has the feature and whether you’ve used it at all?
Skylanders Giants will be available on October 21st from Amazon from $59.99.