The Darkness is the ultimate force behind all evil in Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure. It is depicted as a large mass of dark, ominous storm clouds.
Despite being an evil force, The Darkness and its sinister magic can be controlled. Spyro is the only known Skylander so far to use The Darkness and combine its power with its own to become Dark Spyro, eventually being able to control his power and using the dark magic to fight evil.
For generations, the Core of Light repelled The Darkness until Kaos returned from his exile and destroyed the Core, allowing him to use The Darkness for his own gain to take over and rule Skylands. After the Core of Light was restored, The Darkness was repelled once more.
In the 3DS version of Skylanders, The Darkness came to the Radiant Isles and brought in Hektore, who then proceeded to capture the Mystic Seekers and forced them to create the Dark Mirror that will later shroud the Radiant Isles from the rest of Skylands. After Hektore was destroyed, The Darkness was driven away.
Spyro is a rare magical dragon with the ability to harness the power of the other elements, though he prefers to master fire. However, this innate power also leaves him vulnerable to the influence of dark magic. When The Darkness is nearby, Spyro can channel its energy and combine its power with his own, becoming Dark Spyro. Over the years, he has learned to focus and control his power, using this dark magic to fight the forces of evil.
Dark Spyro looks exactly the same as Spyro apart from the fact he is black where he should be purple and silver where he should be bronze.
Although Dark Spyro has the exact same abilities as Spyro in the console version of Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure (and thus the same as Legendary Spyro, with only a color swap), his changes are quite dramatic in the 3DS version of the game. In the 3DS version, Spyro and Legendary Spyro are quite masterful shooting just regular fireballs and using their Horn Charge. However, Dark Spyro is more adept at physical slashes and using magical thunder. At first he can use only a three-hit slashing combo, and of course dash and jump, and is also one of the characters able to glide. As he levels up he learns to shoot thunder balls (which he can later run over to get power and speed boosts) and shoot powerful rays of lightning energy.
Dark Spyro is a counterpart of Spyro who is available exclusively when you buy the 3DS version of Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure. However, you can still use him with any version of the game and even on the Spyro’s Universe web game. Spyro is of the Magic Element.
I like video games. I’m not a huge nut nor am I super good, but I enjoy playing video games. My twins have an XBOX360, my little ones have a Nintendo DS & Nintendo DSi, and we have a Nintendo Wii hooked up in our living room. For Christmas Aunt Kathy & Uncle Bob gave us all Walmart gift certificates, so the little ones and I combined our cards and purchased a new game, Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventures. But Skylanders isn’t just a new game, no, it is a new gaming experience where the sky’s the limit!
Most games merely come with the game itself, the disk or cartridge. And yeah, that’s usually good enough. Sometimes a game might come with a collector’s figurine or an action figure to place on a shelf to collect dust and serve as a symbol of geekiness. Skylanders comes with the game, three action figures and the Portal of Power-all required to play the game. The action figures are placed on the physical platform; place different action figures on the Portal of Power and they come alive in the game and the game changes as you place different action figures to play different characters. Different characters unlock different areas of the game. The game with the portal and 3 action figures cost $70 on all platforms.
Portal of Power
The Portal of Power, the wireless platform that comes with the game, is one of the first new cool things I’ve seen in recent years-since the Wii Fit balance board. The Portal of Power platform connects to the game console (XBOX360, PS3, Wii & 3DS, PC) much like a wireless mouse, with a little USB connector. Initial setup was plug and play and completely painless.
Skylanders is one of the first games to take the concept of action figures and collecting to the next level-and they’ve done it brilliantly. Each game comes with three action figures that become characters in the game. Up to two action figures can be placed on the portal simultaneously, for cooperative or versus play. There are 37 action figures in all. Toys R Us even has a couple of different carrying cases! Individually packaged action figures cost about $8. 3-packs of action figures cost about $20.
Each action figure has a memory chip in the base. The memory chip stores progress and since the action figures are not platform-specific, the action figures can be ported to a different system and all progress is portable as well. For instance, I bought the Wii version of the game which comes with an action figure, Trigger Happy, but I can use Trigger Happy on an XBOX360 (or PS3 or 3DS or PC) and the progress and all the character’s status will follow.
Collect them All?
As stated before, there are 37 action figures in all. This is where things can get a bit confusing (and expensive). There are eight different groups or families of characters called Element Classes: Air, Earth, Fire, Life, Magic, Tech, Undead & Water.
Although the game can be beaten with the three characters that come with the game & portal, there are areas of the game that you cannot access unless you have a character from each class. This is where the marketing guys start to earn their salary!
So you really only need eight action figures right? Well…
In other games, any Mario game for instance, you collect free lives as you play the game. In Skylanders you collect free lives by collecting more action figures! One character runs out of steam then take him off the portal and replace him with another. Well played Mr. Marketer dude.
There are eight classes with four action figures/characters per class, which is 32 action figures/characters. There’s a pretty cool full-sized poster of all 32 action figures in between Justin Bieber and The Marvel Superheroes at the poster display.
Although listed as part of the “official” 32 action figures, the Drill Sergeant action figure is exclusively sold at Walmart. Another point to the Marketing guys!
Dark Spyro is not listed among the “official” 32. The Nintendo 3DS version of the game, portal & figurines comes with Dark Spyro, to my knowledge this is the only way to purchase this action figure-to purchase the Nintendo 3DS version of the game which includes Dark Spyro. This is where the marketing guys took collecting to the next level! Dark Spyro is selling for a pretty penny on Ebay. Although Dark Spyro can be played on any of the Portals of Power (any of the game systems) it is only listed in the 3DS packaging.
Toys R Us has three exclusive “legendary” action figures that are also not listed among the “official” 32. Legendary Bash, Legendary Chop Chop and Legendary Spyro can only be purchased at Toys R US. More points to the marketing geeks. When in stock, the exclusive Toys R Us Legendary 3-pack can be purchased through TRU for about $25, or for around $40 on Ebay-again props to the marketing guys for creating a demand for toy collecting.
Adventure Packs come with an action figure and a few other object action figures-magic items. Think of these as expansion packs. Place a location figure on the Portal of Power and access a whole new chapter! Experience new challenges, menacing enemies and whimsical adventures. An Action Pack with one action figure and a few object figures cost about $20. There are four Adventure Packs:
Dragon’s Peak is a adventure pack that comes with a new chapter, 2 magical items, 4 stickers, 4 online codes, 4 trading cards and the Skylander Sunburn.
The Volcanic Vault is an exclusive portal, part of the Wii/360/PS3 Starter Pack when bought at Best Buy. When an action figure is placed on the Portal for the first time, it unlocks the multiplayer Volcanic Arena for play in Battle mode.
The portal, action figures and collecting would be worthless if the game itself was boring and bland. I’m happy to say that it is a fun game! The game is geared to younger players, but has been getting very positive reviews from adult gamers (including the guy that works at my local Game Stop-he said he and his girlfriend are addicted!). I’ve been playing it with my eight-year old and we’ve had a blast! Like many video games there is a story line version that includes hunting and gathering, fighting, puzzles, collecting and powering up. And like most video games there is a versus version where the characters fight each other in a battle royale, or street fighter style. I will say that the story line version of play, although very entertaining (the story was written by the writers of Toy Story), quick and fun is a little bit easy, but we are only about 15% through the game, so maybe I am speaking too soon. And the key may be leveling up and buying powers. UPDATE: I am stuck at 33%…so it isn’t all THAT easy.
Obviously this game is the ultimate in hunting and gathering games! There are lots of levels, lots of areas to unlock, lots of characters to collect, lots of things to find, lots of powers to buy, etc.
Each action figure comes with collectable cards and a code that can be entered to play the online version of Skylanders-much like Club Penguin (which means the online play is SAFE!). The Skylanders online game site is FREE and anyone can play without purchasing any pieces of the game. The online version serves as an extension of the game and is completely safe for kids. I’ve only played for an hour or so, but it seems pretty cool. Especially designed for the young ones, if, as a parent, you find yourself addicted to the console game, give the keyboard and mouse to you child so you can play with the controller and nun chuck!
Its Not ALL About The Benjamins
One of the negatives of this game is the price. The initial game, portal and three action figures, although not crazy expensive will cost you $70 on any console (including the 3DS). Each additional action figure costs $7.00-$9.00 (dependeing on where you buy and if you buy in packs of three). 37 figurines x 8.00 = just under $300! Plus the expansion packs and carrying cases…UGH! Yeah, it can add up fast. Here’s the good news, the game can be completed-without exploring ALL areas of the game-with the initial three action figures that come with the game. And, if you aren’t into collecting, but want to complete all the areas of the the game, a minimum of eight action figures (about $75) are needed to unlock all of the areas of game play (maybe excluding the chapters introduced by the Adventure Packs). However, if you really suck, keep purchasing more action figures to get more chances to pass that area you’re stuck on.
In all fairness it sounds like Activision’s marketing geniuses didn’t know that the game would take off. Game Stop says that production should pick up and characters should flood the market at the end of February.