Skylanders: Trap Team
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: Trap Team is an action/adventure game in which kids control fantastical creatures, each of which has its own real-world toy counterpart. Players fight a variety of non-human enemies as they try to protect Skylands from a group of escaped villains. The shtick this time around is that kids can pull these villains out of the game and "trap" them in plastic crystals, then summon them as playable characters when needed. Like other Skylanders games, the cartoon violence is frequent but relatively mild. Characters use weapons including swords, guns, and magic in their attacks, but defeated enemies simply fall to the ground and disappear. Keep in mind that Skylanders: Trap Team will tempt kids to buy additional toys to enhance the game experience. Kids can use their existing collection of Skylanders toys from previous games to help limit costs, but they'll need to spend at least $125 beyond the price of the starter pack to be able to unlock all of the game's secret areas and special quests.
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What's it about?
Skylands is teeming with even more bad guys than usual in SKYLANDERS: TRAP TEAM, another addition to the series that popularized the concept of teleporting collectible toy figurines into a game where they become playable characters. This time around, players quickly learn that a prison made of "traptanium" has been breached, flooding the land with villains. Dispatched to recapture these criminals are the Trap Masters, the primary new collectible Skylanders figures for this edition. There are dozens of other collectible figures as well -- including both original and returning characters, some of whom come in new "mini" forms -- but Trap Masters of specific elements are required to access secret areas in each level. When a villain is defeated, players can trap him or her in a special toy crystal that corresponds to the villain's element by placing the crystal in a slot on the portal. The crystal will light up, and the imprisoned baddie's voice will begin emanating from the portal, creating a convincing illusion that he or she has been brought into the real world. Once trapped, villains become playable and begin fighting for good rather than evil. Specific villains are required to unlock and play certain quests found in each level. Players also get to explore a constantly expanding hub world called Skylanders Academy, with a host of activities ranging from a music rhythm game to a tower defense-like series of challenges that pit the Skylanders against long-time series antagonist Kaos. They'll also solve lock puzzles, play a card-like game called Skystones Smash, and collect and equip a range of stat-altering hats and new trinkets.
Is it any good?
You could argue that trapping villains in real-world crystal traps is just a gimmick to create even more toys for parents to buy their kids, but if it is, then it's a compelling one. Encountering a new villain in Skylanders: Trap Team is exciting for plenty of reasons. For starters, it signals the start of a fun new boss battle, and there are dozens of them in the game. More than that, it means you're about to get a new playable character with original moves and often a truly witty personality (villains talk and joke much more than Skylanders). Since one (relatively) cheap crystal is all you need to capture all villains of a specific element -- and some elements have as many as six associated villains -- it feels like these characters are almost free compared to the relatively expensive Skylanders characters. The "enemy quests" available to specific villains are just gravy.
Trap Team raises the series' bar in other ways, too. The controls feel smoother than ever, thanks largely to the new and long-awaited ability to attack while jumping. Visually, the series has never looked better. Characters' bodies are nicely textured and gleam in the light, and the environments -- filled with blooming flowers and icky swamps -- are vivid with detail. And with around 15 playable female characters -- including three tough female Trap Masters -- girls shouldn’t feel left out the way they did with 2013's Skylanders: Swap Force. Unlikely as it may be, Skylanders is one annual franchise that just seems to get better with each new game. So long as you're willing to endure its demands on your pocketbook, Skylanders: Trap Team is an easy recommendation for any family.
Talk to your kids 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.
Discuss cooperative play. Do you enjoy playing games alone or with friends? What advantages are associated with each? Is there anything about Skylanders games in particular that makes them better or worse to play with friends?
- Platforms: Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo Wii, Nintendo Wii U, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
- Subjects: Hobbies: collecting
- Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: decision-making, solving puzzles, strategy
Collaboration: cooperation, meeting challenges together, teamwork
- Price: $74.99
- Pricing structure: Paid (A pair of Skylanders figures and two Trap crystals are included in the starter pack, the rest are sold separately.)
- Available online? Not available online
- Developer: Activision
- Release date: October 5, 2014
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures
- ESRB rating: E10+ for Cartoon Violence, Comic Mischief
- Last updated: December 7, 2020
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