Skylanders: Swap Force

Common Sense Media says

Excellent action romp tied to fun toy figures.

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

Learning(i)

What parents need to know

Positive messages

This is a simple tale of good versus evil with some kid-appropriate humor. It promotes the notion of standing up for those who can't defend themselves, but often suggests that fighting is the best or only way to do so.   

Positive role models

The Skylanders, even the "dark" ones, are a force for good in Skylands and viewed as heroes by its inhabitants. Their goal is to defeat evil, save the world, and restore happiness. They always succeed. Just keep in mind that their problem-solving methodology typically consists of little more than beating up and blasting bad guys. Little of their on-screen behavior serves as a realistic paradigm -- good or bad -- for kids.  

Ease of play

Like other Skylanders games, things start easy and never really get too tough. The Skylanders tend to grow in strength and ability at just the right pace to keep up with enemies' evolving levels of difficulty. Also, since you can swap in a new Skylander whenever your current one is exhausted, players with more than a few characters will probably never need to restart a level from scratch. 

Violence & scariness

Players engage in frequent battles against a variety of robots and fantastical evil creatures. Combat is decidedly cartoonish and viewed from a raised, third-person perspective. Characters use a wide array of stylized attacks using punches and kicks as well as weapons (including guns and swords) and magical abilities that see different types of energy engulfing foes. Defeated enemies typically fall to the ground and quickly fade away.

Language
Not applicable
Consumerism

As with past Skylanders outings, a big part of the game is collecting additional physical figurines beyond the three that come with the starter pack to unlock special areas in the game, which is bound to cost parents and kids a lot of money. That said, the new Swap Force characters have interchangeable bottoms and tops, which means buying only a handful of figures can result in dozens of combinations, which makes for good value. Plus, all characters from the first two games can be used in this one, so long-time franchise fans will have a leg up.

Privacy & safety

Minor privacy and safety concerns. The game in the box is local-play only, though players can see online leaderboards. The characters come with codes to upload Skylanders to mobile apps including Skylanders: Battlegrounds and Skylanders: Lost Islands.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Skylanders: Swap Force is the third installment in Activision's popular action/adventure game series that lets kids transport physical toys into a virtual world to do battle against a variety of evil fantasy creatures. The combat is frequent and involves lots of weapons and stylized attacks, but it's also decidedly cartoonish. There's no blood or gore, and defeated enemies simply fade away. Plus, the Skylanders are clearly good guys working to protect helpless folk and defeat an evil menace. Parents will want to keep in mind that the $75 starter pack, which comes with three Skylanders, could be the start of a costly hobby. Players are encouraged to purchase additional characters, as certain areas of the game can only be accessed by Skylanders of different elements and -- new to Swap Force -- movement types. The game can be completed with the Skylanders included in the starter pack, but even kids bringing their collections from the first two games will need at least eight new characters to unlock all the bonus areas in the game. 

What kids can learn

Subjects

Hobbies

  • collecting

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • solving puzzles
  • strategy

Collaboration

  • meeting challenges together
  • teamwork

Engagement, Approach, Support

Engagement

Using the portal to "transport" action figures into the virtual world is an intuitive and deeply rewarding play that ought to engage most kids almost instantly.

Learning Approach

Players will feel empowered by the swapping functionality, which lures them to explore character abilities and develop strategies for success. Also, puzzles in each level help kids practice thinking logically.  

Support

Instructions are presented during play. Several unofficial but vibrant online communities have sprung up around this series, providing forums for kids to discuss and share strategies.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Hobbies

  • collecting

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • solving puzzles
  • strategy

Collaboration

  • meeting challenges together
  • teamwork

Kids can learn about strategic reasoning, puzzle solving, teamwork, and the pleasure of collecting in this fun and compelling action/adventure game. Players will develop the ability to devise and employ tactics as they evolve the unique abilities of their Skylanders. They may also grow their reasoning abilities while working together or alone through simple puzzles that require logic and perseverance. Skylanders: Swap Force keeps kids' minds active through solving basic brainteasers and figuring out strategies.

This Learning Rating review was written by Chad Sapieha

Parents say

Kids say

What's it about?

Evil mastermind Kaos has returned to wreak havoc in SKYLANDERS: SWAP FORCE, the third entry in the game series that popularized the idea of kids collecting real toys that can be transported to a virtual world. The adventure begins with the discovery of the peaceful town of Woodburrow, which has been nearly laid to ruin by dark forces. With a little help from constant companion Flynn, the Skylanders embark on a series of adventures that leads to the village's reconstruction. They also gradually reveal Kaos' latest maniacal scheme, wherein the diminutive villain uses the power of dark crystals to "evilize" creatures, turning them into his minions.

The starter pack comes with three new figures, including two new Swap Force Skylanders composed of magnetically connected bottom and top halves that can be swapped with one another to create more than 250 unique character combinations. Each of these special Swap Force characters is propelled by one of eight movement types -- such as spinning, climbing, teleporting, or bouncing -- that are required to unlock specific challenges within the game. What’s more, the top and bottom halves of each character are leveled up separately and have their own distinctive ability growth tracks. Kids also can use all the figures they've collected in previous Skylanders games.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Innovative interchangeable figures aside, Skylanders: Swap Force gently evolves the fun and polished formula established by its predecessors. The biggest change may simply be the ability to leap, which gives rise to some interesting running and jumping challenges that force players to skillfully bound between stationary and moving platforms and to hop up to higher areas. Activision also has included new mini-games like Shock Lock, wherein players move pairs of sparks around electrical labyrinths in an attempt to make them meet. There are dozens of secondary goals and accolades -- such as opening a certain number of Giants loot chests -- that will help players increase their Portal Master ranks.

The real reason kids will keep playing, though, is as it's always been: the collectible Skylanders figurines. The characters made for Skylanders: Swap Force are finely detailed, high-quality toys that will kick kids' imaginations into overdrive, all the more so because they get to see them come alive and gradually evolve within the game. It's a brilliant melding of real and virtual worlds that most kids will find both fascinating and deeply engaging. 

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about being responsible consumers. Budgets are finite, and a game like this one can prove costly. Chat with your parents to figure out how much you can afford to spend, research the characters you're interested in purchasing and how they will affect your play experience, and then shop accordingly.

  • Families can also discuss the impact of violence in media. Do you find third-person action games more or less intense than first-person games? Do you feel different after playing games with lots of frenetic combat?

Game details

Platforms:Nintendo Wii, Nintendo Wii U, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Price:$74.99
Available online?Not available online
Developer:Activision
Release date:October 13, 2013
Genre:Action/Adventure
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Superheroes, Adventures
ESRB rating:E10+ for Not Available (Nintendo Wii, Nintendo Wii U, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One)

This review of Skylanders: Swap Force was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

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What parents and kids say

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Parent Written bydittoface December 21, 2013
AGE
3
QUALITY
 

This games should be rated E not E 10+

Skylanders is not violent at all. I don't know why it is rated 10+. The plots are horrible! In one mission you have to save a guys pie business because people are not buying because some "evil" eyeball doesn't let them. I say this games might be fun for kids 8 and under, or else this game is not worth it. The only problem is that it is too expensive! The game costs $75 then if your kid dies in the game, he has to switch skylander, and if he runs out of skylanders he has to restart the level or buy a new skylander for $12. In all this game is not worth it, and if you want to trade it in activation doesn't allow you!
What other families should know
Great role models
Kid, 7 years old December 29, 2013
AGE
7
QUALITY
 

best wii game

it is the best wii game ever it is very cool and it is much easier then all the other skylander games and it has a skinny portal of power it is very cool to swap the characters at the end maybe it can be hard for you but it is a good game
What other families should know
Too much violence
Teen, 15 years old Written byMovie Nerd October 13, 2013
AGE
9
QUALITY
 

Ok for teens but addictive for preteens!

This game just goes on like the Madagascar 2 game and the ice age 3,the only thing is there is more violence.Most of the teens won't enjoy it but it turns out to be the opposite with the 10-12years group.

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