Skylanders Trap Team
Platform: Xbox One (reviewed) / Playstation 4 / Wii U / Xbox 360 / Playstation 3 / Nintendo 3DS / Wii
IF the unique selling point of the Skylanders series is the interplay of physical figures and the action in-game, Trap Team offers up the best iteration, with a clever design that blurs the lines between what is happening on and off-screen. Combining beat ‘em up action, minigames and RPG-lite elements with a sprightly roster of characters, it is a thrilling experience for younger players, while many parents will likely look on agog at how such ‘toys to life’ technology is transforming traditional gaming.
As in previous titles in the series, the starter pack of Trap Team comes with the game disc, figurines and a curious looking device known as a portal - in this case, the splendidly Dickensian-sounding Traptanium. Placing the figures on the latter results in the characters appearing in-game. Each boasts their own skills and moves and by combining the protagonists it is possible to unlock new areas of the main campaign, ostensibly a colourful jumble of exploration, action adventure and boss battles.
Trap Team’s game world benefits from constantly shifting gameplay styles
While the premise is simple, the ability to play through sections of the game with different characters gives Skylanders great value. The action is undeniably aimed at a certain demographic, but even older players will find something to entertain here, given the rich and abundant array of quests and collectables on offer. The trick is the constantly changing gameplay styles - if ever you are bored by a certain task, be sure to play on as a switch is never far away.
Trap Team’s greatest triumph, however, is the Traptanium itself. When a player is confronted with a villain in game, they use the portal to catch them, triggering a cut scene in which the foe magically appears to have been captured in the small plastic device. Once safely contained, the newly playable villains can be heard shouting thanks to speakers on the trap itself. It is a masterstroke of physical and game design.
The invitation to purchase additional characters feels cynical
In all, there is more than enough content to justify the cost of the starter pack. Unfortunately, Trap Team will do little to quell the argument that the ‘toys to life’ genre makes unreasonable demands of parents for additional purchases. In fact, the chorus of criticism will only get louder. While last year’s Skylanders iteration, Swap Force, presented locked off areas with gates, Trap Team tugs at the heartstrings of younger players by showing them the very villains they are unable to capture without first shelling out for extra equipment. It feels like a cynical and unnecessary move, especially when the rest of the game is such a joy.
TIPS AND TRICKS:
1) Don’t rush out to buy new figures if you own previous Skylanders games - the characters can be used in Trap Team.
2) The Persophones not only allow you to upgrade Skylanders, but villains as well, so it is worth spending some time tinkering around.
3) For parents looking to play the game once younger members of the household have had their fill, Nightmare mode poses an extremely stiff challenge