Skylanders Giants hands-on

Skylanders became a huge unexpected hit for Activision and the developers at Toys For Bob last year, not only cleaning up in game sales, but adding extra revenue through figurines that interact with the game’s portal device, allowing players to control all new characters over the course of their adventure.  Obviously, there’s room to release a sequel, one that would take the concept of the original and expand it, making it bigger and better.  Except there seems to be more emphasis on the bigger.

Behold, Skylanders Giants.  Activision first unveiled the game last month, stating it would be a huge part of this week’s E3 line-up.  Recently, the company invited us down to go hands-on with it, just to see how the “giant” new technology comes together with the game.

skylanders giants logo

It’s built pretty much like the first, as you work your way through a series of stages with your chosen Skylander, battling evil imps while teaming up with familiar (and new) characters to bring peace to your land.  But the changes are noticeable with the introduction of the new Giants characters.

Toys For Bob showed off two of the twelve new additions to the game, and they’re big and bad.  The first is Tree Rex, a huge, hulking tree beast that can smash his way through pretty much anything, including walls, goblin mechs and big enemies.  He’s a bit on the slow size, but he makes up for it with a whole bunch of power.  The second is a little bit cooler — a wheeling robot by the name of Bouncer.  He’s much faster and just as capable in attack patterns, as he can literally bounce into enemies to destroy them.

The great thing about these new characters are their figurines.  Not only are they bigger than most Skylanders, but they’re also interactive.  When you place them on the glowing portal, they actually light up without the need for batteries or anything like that.  We asked Toys For Bob how they came up with the tech, but they wouldn’t say.  It’s just one of those gaming secrets, I suppose.

But we certainly don’t mean any disrespect to the other Skylanders.  In fact, a couple of new regular-sized ones were also introduced and proved to be quite helpful on the battlefield.  The first, Pop Fizz, is a chemist of sorts — a weird goblin that likes mixing up potions and throwing them around strategically.  While typical action fans may not be prone to using him right away, he’s definitely worthwhile, especially against groups of foes.  The second, Air-Vac, is a warrior who packs a vacuum gun, and while “sucking” may not sound like the most ideal of attacks, he can draw in enemies to damage them, while also causing objects to move inward and break, allowing him to collect the crystals inside.  Very cool.

Along with a story mode that will take you several hours to venture through, Skylanders Giants will once again include co-op, as you can fit two Skylanders Giants characters on the portal at once, with each player controlling one.  If you prefer a more competitive fight, you can take on the battle arena mode, duking it out until only one Skylander is standing.  A new survival mode will challenge players as well, with oncoming waves of enemies to defeat.  Grab a Giant and go to town.

skylanders giants

Best of all, Skylanders Giants won’t require the need to upgrade your equipment.  You can use your old Skylanders portal and characters with the game just fine.  (If you don’t have any, don’t worry; packages of the game with the equipment will be available as well.)

Skylanders Giants looks like a homerun of a sequel, even if it does feel a little bit like the same old thing.  But if it isn’t broke, there’s no need to fix it, right?  Look for more coverage leading into the game’s release later this year.