A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Skylanders: Giants is a simple action/platformer filled with colorful fantasy characters, each with his or her own combat and movement abilities. Violence is frequent, but cartoonish in nature and involves no blood. Whacks and magical attacks result in flashes of light and characters that fall to the ground and disappear. However, parents should be aware of the game's commercial nature and consumer message. Kids are encouraged via preview videos during play to collect real-world figurines that can be scanned into the game. Nearly 50 are available at around $10 each, but aren't necessary to enjoy the game. (This game could become a very expensive proposition for families with kids who want to collect them all.) Parents should also be aware that the toys will appeal to kids as young as age 6, but that the game has violence so it is most appropriate for kids age 10 and older. There is a disconnect between the age appropriateness of the toys and the game.
What's it about?
The sequel to 2011's incredibly popular Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure, SKYLANDERS: GIANTS is a fantastical action and platformer game set among islands floating in the sky. Kids control a cast of imaginative creatures that enter the game by placing a real world toy on a game-connected "Portal" gadget. For players new to this universe, the Starter Pack ships with three of these figures, the video game, and the portal. Returning players need only the Portal Owner pack, which contains the game and a figurine of a giant. Additional characters are sold individually and in packs of three. Some of the game's puzzles require creatures attuned to one of eight elements, and certain areas can be accessed only if the player has the right type of character. This is part of the game's fun, though, since switching characters involves placing a figurine on a glowing portal. The game is similar to its predecessor, but there are several new characters -- including the titular "giant" Skylanders that tower over their friends -- as well as new arena challenges that lets kids take on wave after wave of enemies.
Is it any good?
Activision has stumbled onto something special with its Skylanders games. As proven by the popularity of Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure -- a hit with both kids and many adults -- there's something surprisingly satisfying about scanning real-world objects into a game. It helps that the figurines are of high quality and are interesting to look at, and it's even better that the scanning process is virtually instantaneous and doesn't interrupt the pace of play in the slightest.
This sequel improves upon the original's formula by delivering a more compelling story and better writing. Cut scenes are of nearly CGI movie quality and play host to some legitimately amusing moments. Plus, the addition of "giant" characters that can smash through things and lift giant boulders adds a fun new dimension to the experience. There's little doubt Skylanders: Giants will prove a hit for most kids.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about responsible collecting. Collecting things can be a lot of fun, but it's important to consider cost. How might you go about acquiring new Skylanders figurines for less? Have you tried used game stores? Trading with or purchasing them from friends?
Families can also discuss how to recognize marketing. Think about how companies try to sell products to you. Have you ever felt the urge to buy something after seeing it featured prominently in a movie or game?
- Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Nintendo Wii U, Nintendo 3DS, Windows
- Subjects: Hobbies: collecting
- Skills: Collaboration: cooperation, teamwork
Thinking & Reasoning: solving puzzles, strategy
- Price: $59.99-79.99
- Available online? Not available online
- Developer: Activision
- Release date: October 23, 2012
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Adventures
- ESRB rating: E10+ for Cartoon Violence
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.