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Since I reviewed Skylanders Giants at launch there have been plenty of further developments. With the first two waves of figures under our belt now, my kids are turning their attention to wave 3 and wave 4. They are eternally trying to second guess each other about which Giants, light-core and series 2 Skylanders will hit store shelves next.
Beyond the figures themselves there has also been some new Skylanders games on different platforms. The new Skylanders Battlegrounds game for the iPad extends the game-play and functionality of Skylanders Cloud Patrol and Skylanders Lost Islands. The main novelty here is the provision of a Bluetooth portal (as predicted) for the iPad that lets you bring characters into the game as you do on the console version.
What’s more, the portal that comes with the Battleground Starter Pack is backwards-compatible with the earlier iPad games. This has been great for my kids who inadvertently misplaced their web-codes for their figures (not realizing how important they were).
This iPad implementation of the portal of power is closer to the console version than the 3DS. It lets you switch characters in real time on the go rather than having to pre-load your figures into the system before going out and about. I hope this is something we’ll see on the handheld version too in due course.
Skylanders Giants Wii U — Definitive Version?
Vicarious Visions, who were responsible for the iPad versions of Skylanders and last year’s 3DS game, have taken on the task of bringing the console game to the Wii U. After the difficulty lumps with the end-level boss of the 360 and PS3 versions of the original game, Toys for Bob developed all three main versions of Skylanders Giants this year. I was a little surprised to hear that they weren’t also heading up the Wii U version — I guess they have too much work to do to be ready for the (rumored) New York Toy Fair announcement of Skylanders 3.
Skylanders Giants on the Wii U seems free of any teething problems. In fact this version of Skylanders is fast becoming my favorite. It not only bumps the Wii visuals to 1080P, but also lets you play the game anywhere in the house via the Game-pad touch-screen –freeing up the main TV. Played like this it feels like a super-sized mobile version of the game.
Beyond the improved graphics there are also functional enhancements that have changed how we play the game. While playing the game on the TV screen the Game-pad is used to display stats and menus for the current characters. This gives the game more of a strategic edge as you can micro manage which Skylanders have the perfect stats for each location.
You can switch between stats and level objectives by tapping the bottom left corner of the Game-pad. Again this changes the focus of the play as you are constantly aware of what you need to do to hit all the achievements for the current level. I would have liked to see an indicator on timed levels as well, but I guess you can’t have everything.
Beyond any niggles, I love how this has turned Skylanders into a three player game in my household. Two of the kids control the in game characters while a third keeps an eye on the Wii U Game-pad screen to offer advice and tactics. It’s fascinating to see how providing this information in a persistent screen has totally changed how they play with the game.
We also sometimes play with two people on the 360 game on the TV while a third player uses the Wii U Game-pad to play along in their game. This sort of flexibility is a really nice to have, as I mentioned in my four player Skylanders Split Screen setup post.
It will be interesting to see what the future holds for Skylanders between now and the next game’s announcement. The only chink in the armor currently is a Vita version and perhaps Battlegrounds coming to Android and other tablets. For now, the Wii U game is certainly the definitive version for my kids.