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Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure
Score: 97%
ESRB: Everyone 10+
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Toys for Bob
Media: Blu-ray/1
Players: 1 - 2
Genre: Adventure/ Action/ Family

Graphics & Sound:
About 3 years ago, I reviewed the last Spyro game and I've been wondering what happened to Spyro ever since. It turns out that he's been hanging out in Skyland with the rest of the Skylanders and Eon.

I loved the original Spyro games. The colorful worlds and characters were entertaining and fun. Skylanders: Spyro's Adventures returns to that colorful and bright look. You'll even see some very familiar characters other than Spyro. ,Granted they are different characters, but Alric reminds me very much of Moneybags for one. They aren't copies, but they're enough alike that you have the same overall feel of the games. I love the details that they took extra time to add, like the treasure in the Cyclops area being eyes instead of gems, as that would be their treasure and the torches on the path to the beach change color based on the class of character that ran by them last.

The background music fits the areas that you are in, which is really nice. In the beginning, in less dangerous areas, it is more light and whimsical, but by the time you get to the end, you get deep and booming music. Just like the graphics, there are little sound effects like Spyro's wings flapping that aren't necessary to the game, but just make it more fun and entertaining. Of course, I think the most entertaining thing is the voice acting. The main bad guy, Kaos, is voiced by Richard Steven Horvitz whom you might recognize as Invader Zim. All of the voicework is simply amazing, even if some of the characters ramble a bit at times. The Skylanders each have their own voices, but some know more words than others. I do find myself talking along with my favorite Bash and saying "Rock rock rock rock" with him. It's the little things that are the most entertaining.

Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure opens up with your chosen Skylander being tasked with saving villagers whose island is being torn apart by a tornado. Skylands is made up of a lot of separate floating islands that are all unique. Eon is your guide in Skylands. Peace has been interrupted by Kaos and he had been banished to the Outlanders, but he's returned to destroy the core of light. Eon and his Skylanders use the portals to protect Skyland. Unfortunately, Kaos succeeds in destroying the core of light and splits it into many pieces. The Skylanders were sent to our world and shrunk into your characters. When you put them on the portal, you bring them to life. You are now the portal master and must send your Skylanders back to Skylands to collect all the pieces and restore the core of light to the defeat Kaos.

Your main area is called the Ruins as it is the ruins of the area that held the core of light. You will be taken into many different areas in the Skylands to find the pieces that you need to restore the core. Also you want to collect scrolls, treasure chests, soul gems, presents, and money, so break open everything that you possibly can find to break. You can play these Skyland Adventures with one or two players. To help you in the Ruins, you have the assistance of Hugo the mole, who usually tells you where you need to go next; Flynn the pilot who will fly you around; Cali to give you heroic challenges; and many more. Each Skylander has their own heroic challenge that you will unlock for all the Skylanders to play the first time you put a new Skylander on the portal. Once you get the first element, air, Eon is returned to the island as well and can help them rebuild the core, as a spirit. You might think like I did that once you assemble the core of light that you have beaten the game. I assure you though, that is not the case. After you've restored the core of light, you will have to chase down Kaos in the Outlands and make sure that he cannot ever cause trouble again!

If you get tired of playing the Skyland Adventures and you have a friend handy, you can go to Battle Mode. You will need two players locally to battle as there is no option to play online or against the computer. In Battle Mode, you can choose from Arena Rumble, SkyGods, or SkyGem Master. After you choose your mode, you will choose the arena. The different arenas really affect the outcome of the games. Arena Rumble is simply a one-on-one battle. Based on the arena, you can find different ways to attack your opponent, but in the end, whoever survives the longest wins. SkyGods is basically a football game. There is one ball and one goal post. If you throw the ball through the goal, you get 3 points. If you run it in, you get 7 points just like in football. Whoever has the most points when the time runs out is the winner. Finally in SkyGem Master, there are gems that will randomly appear on the board. The first person to collect 5 wins. You can make your opponent drop gems by attacking them so that you can steal their gems.

At the beginning of Skylanders: Spyro's Adventures, I felt that it was a bit easy. Up until chapter 7 or 8, you can pretty much get by with purely running and attacking, with no real worry of dying. After that, the game gets to be a lot more difficult. It is very handy to have many characters because you can keep swapping them out, even during boss battles, to get past the more difficult challenges. Even if you kill one, you just put a new one on the portal. You only have to restart the chapter if you manage to kill all of your Skylanders and have no one left to put on the portal. Skylanders heal fully after the end of each chapter. If you kill one in a chapter, you will have to wait until the chapter is complete to use it again. Technically, you do not have to go back to the ruins as they heal after the Lair of Kaos chapter is complete, before the battle with Kaos.

If you look at the Objectives for the chapters, you'll notice that one of them is to clear the level in an insanely short time. However, if you go back and replay a level, the things that you have already found are still found, so that's how you can actually clear them in under the time. You find everything first and then just run through that level to get the last check box and star. Some of the levels have puzzles to complete. I like the fact that you can't get the puzzles stuck so that they have to be reset to get through. At least, I don't think you can and I've tried! In a way, it does make them a bit easier than games that are specifically designed to be block puzzles, but given that Skylanders isn't, the difficulty is just right. If you ever do get confused, you can look for grooves on the ground that will help you see which way things can move.

Game Mechanics:
The controls in Skylanders: Spyro's Adventures are well explained during the game so that you don't have any confusion and they are all easy to use. Each character has unique abilities, so you'll soon figure out who are your favorites. Be careful though and don't count out a character early. Zap was one of my least favorite to start until I leveled him up a bit and figured out that he's one of the best range characters, since he can even draw a barricade for himself. You always need to keep your water guys leveled up because they are the only ones who can swim and you're going to need to search the water for hidden areas and items. Then there are just the fun things, like flattening the sheep as Bash. You can upgrade your Skylanders at the fairies. Upgrades will give you additional powers and make your current powers stronger. Each character has their own money to spend on upgrades that they have earned, so they can only spend it on themselves. Collecting butterflies will make the cost cheaper, but you don't want to wait on it too long because you need those upgrades before too long. You can see your upgrades in the Skylanders Info screen (press Select) under Powers. After you've bought the beginning upgrades (not counting the one that requires the soul gem), you have to choose which path you want to take your character in upgrading their skills, so it might come in handy to have two of each character to get multiple paths. You can tell I'm going to have a very large collection of Skylanders.

The portal for the PS3 is wireless, which is very nice because you can put it in reach easily so that you can switch the characters at any time. Fair warning though, I've already drained the batteries in the portal once, around about 15 hours I think, so be sure to keep extra on hand as you can't do anything without the portal!

If you can't tell, I love Skylanders: Spyro's Adventures. There are a very few things that I would change, like the ability to jump and removing the max of level 10 on the Skylanders, but I'm just going to hope that those are planned for future releases. I love the fact that you can get more areas to play just by buying new packs like the Darklight Crypt Adventure Pack. I can't wait on my pre-orders to come in for more areas, but there's still so much left to find on the current ones that I have lots of gameplay time left. I highly recommend that you all go get Skylanders: Spyro's Adventures on October 16th when it is released. You will love it!

-Cyn, GameVortex Communications
AKA Sara Earl

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