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 Spyro's Adventures (3DS) is a completely different game from the console version of Skylanders. It has a different storyline, a different style of gameplay, and even a different trio of characters to start with. There's still quite a bit of fighting -- including the use of many weapons -- though all of it is relatively cartoonish. The main gimmick with Skylanders is that kids place small toy figures onto an electronic "portal" device (included) and those characters get beamed -- via wireless infrared connection -- onto the 3DS and into the game. Parents need to know that there is a discrepancy between the targeted age of the toy figurines (the starter pack says age "6+") and the age appropriateness of the video game packaged with those toys which is for age 10 (ESRB rating of E10+). The starter pack comes with three figures, but the game encourages and entices players to purchase additional figurines. Any of the figures/characters can also be used in a connected online multiplayer game, Skylanders Universe, as well as in other versions of Skylanders Spyro's Adventure (including console versions). That web game offers a monitored environment and only limited, pre-selected chat between players. Also, take note that, as with all 3DS games, Nintendo recommends that children under 7 only play the game in 2D, as the 3D effect could damage developing eyesight. Parents can turn off the ability to play in 3D by using the device's parental controls.
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What's it about?
SKYLANDERS SPYRO'S ADVENTURE (3DS) is set in the fantasyland of Skylands. This game focuses on an area of Skylands called the Radiant Aisles, where the peaceful seekers cultivate a magical substance known as radiance. An evil tyrant names Hektore comes along to kidnap the seekers and steal all the radiance to make a powerful magic item for himself. You control any of 32 different heroes, dashing through long course-like levels, jumping across tons of floating islands, collecting bottles of \"radiance,\" and fighting bad guys before a timer runs out and Hektore himself appears to zap you. You can bring two Skylanders at a time into any level and switch back and forth between them, tag-team style.
Is it any good?
Skylanders Spyro's Adventures (3DS) offers players a well-constructed world full of creatively challenging race-against-time obstacle courses. Each level is a load of fun to play the first time through, but also provides great replay value with a slew of bonus objectives (collect five teddy bears, destroy 10 orange crystals, etc.) to reach on each level. Plus there are plenty of hidden areas to discover (and access only if you have the right kind of Skylander characters, of course) and secret treasures to find. Also, this is a game that takes full advantage of the 3D technology -- the effects are super cool. It's also great to note that you can take your characters from this 3DS version into completely unrelated console versions (like PS3 or Xbox 360) and they'll still retain all of their earned experience and powers. It serves as a great expansion of the Skylanders world for console game owners, but also as a wonderful handheld game in its own right.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the idea of buying characters to use in a video game. Does this feel like a fun innovation that allows you to customize your experience? Or do you look at it as a way for game publishers to simply make more money?
The 3DS version comes prepackaged with one of Skylanders' few female characters (there are only 3 out of the full selection of 32 Skylanders). Does this imbalance make the game less appealing to girls? Are boys willing to play with the female characters? Should the lineup be more evenly split between genders?
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