Fashionably Late Reviews
Skylanders: Trap Team

By Jorge Figueiredo - February 14th, 2015

trapteam-1

Skylanders has been a fan favourite for a number of years. This latest iteration, co-developed by Beenox (Québec City) and California-based Toys For Bob (PS4, Xbox One and Wii U versions; Beenox developed the 3DS version on their own), is a bit of a departure as it seems to be far more interactive than previous versions that I have had the chance to observe. This differentiation is present in more than just the software (the NFC-enabled “Traptanium Portal” is part of the fun as well), and creates an interesting dynamic with the audience – especially the younger crowd. Overall, the game is actually fun and features many hours of entertainment. Of course, to harvest the full potential of this title you may need to reach for your wallet.

The game’s story begins with a bit of a history lesson leading up to the current state of the world of the Skylanders. In the past, Skylands was under the thumb of the Doom Raiders, a nasty group of baddies who enjoyed causing problems all over Skylands. Following their iron-fisted rule, a group called the Trap Masters rose up to stop them. The Doom Raiders were defeated, and sent to Cloudcracker prison with no hope of escape. Of course, they eventually escaped (thanks to Kaos, one of the main baddies), and began visiting their evil hijinks upon the land. Now, it is up to the Skylanders Trap Team to recapture their foes – but this time, each opponent (once defeated and “trapped”) can be used as an ally.

What follows is a neat introductory level in which you are tasked with catching a member of the Doom Raiders named The Gulper, whose arrival interrupts the opening of the Skylanders Academy. You are guided by Buzz, a legendary Skylanders trainer (as well as head of security and secret ninja commando operations) in the operation. Once captured, The Gulper ends up working for you and the rest of the Trap Team, putting his unique skills to work by allowing you to swap your Skylander for him with the push of a button. Capturing The Gulper is the first true step as you proceed to track down and capture the rest of the bad guys from Cloudcracker prison. It is a bit of lather, rinse, repeat as other enemies join your ranks as you trap them and use them to forward the cause of good.

trapteam-2
Well-made figures and a cool-looking Traptanium Portal add to the immersion.

Your character is brought to life by placing their figure in the Traptanium Portal (at which point their digital version appears on the screen), and you can switch your character to another if you so choose by simply physically swapping them. Each character has unique moves (thanks to an elemental affinity) that come in handy in both exploration of each level and in battle. While most of the each level is available to traverse, there are some parts that are locked to all but characters of a certain elemental affinity. What sets Trap Team apart from the other Skylanders games, though, is an extra piece called the Trap, which fits into its own slot on the Portal. This is what you use to trap your enemies (of which the first is The Gulper). The traps can contain a number of villains (though baddies can only be contained by traps of their element type); these foes don’t actually have their own figures, but can be collected and stored in the Villain Vault in the main hub of the game (which is the gateway to all of the different modes).

While the story is charmingly cute, it is the trap mechanic that steals the show in this game. My television is somewhat far from my couch, and after I realized that I would be swapping out characters and traps frequently‎, I took advantage of the long cord, placed the Portal on my coffee table, and found the experience much more enjoyable. Trapping a villain starts on-screen and ends in the Portal in front of you – basically, once you trap the villain, their voice is heard from the Portal’s built-in speaker. The transitional light-and-sound show really breathes life into the game, and is especially engaging to younger children as it breaks the fourth wall.

trapteam-3
Great environments in this game. Cartoon-ish but well-designed.

The Skylanders figures are well constructed, and quite detailed – detailed enough that their expressions convey their personality very effectively. In fact, the characterizations of these little creatures don’t seem out of place at all when you see them on screen (when compared to their real-world counterparts). Visuals are great, with bright colours and interesting environments – and the accompanying sound effects and music work well with what your eyes perceive. But personally, I found that the voice work was fantastic, with well-written characters portrayed effectively. Kudos go to the writers, who instilled a great deal of humour and entertainment value into the script for this title – and props to the voice actors, some of whom you will probably recognize (Patrick Warburton, for instance).

In terms of difficulty, the game is not going to stymie any adult, and kids will have a lot of fun playing as the game is not out to punish you. Some of the boss fights can be a little tricky at first, but there are enough chances to learn the patterns to do just fine. What the game lacks in difficulty, though, it more than makes up for in variety. While the majority of the game is essentially a refined brawler, there are other mini-games to play within the main campaign, as well as other modes that can be access from the main hub. Also, if you own Skylanders from previous versions, you can use them here (and they retain all of the work that you put into them from past games), though it’s the Skyanders Trap Masters that are the toughest good guys in the game (and will give you a slight edge when trapping the baddies).

trapteam-4
Special side-quests change up the brawling.

While it is true that you can’t unlock everything without purchasing at least a few other Skylanders, the Starter Kit is enough to allow you to enjoy the game. It includes the Portal, two Skylanders figures (Snap Shot and Food Fight), two elemental Traps, trading cards, sticker sheets and a Trap tray. In the end, you can invest as much as you want to in the series without worrying about needing extra bits to finish the game.

It’s no small wonder that Beenox took home a prize for this game. Skylanders: Trap Team is definitely a well-made production that is fun for kids of all ages (though it seems especially geared towards kids between 8 and 12) with enough variety contained within to keep the family playing for a long time to come (even longer if you purchase an extra figure or two). Skylanders: Trap Team is available for practically every platform (sorry Atari 2600 and Intellivision) – but for the record, I reviewed the Playstation 4 version.

Comment away!

Please keep it clean. Unnecessary cursing will be removed.

Article comments by non-staff members do not necessarily reflect the views of Toronto Thumbs.


seven + = 9