Skylanders Trap Team – How Does Activision Avoid Over Staying its Welcome?

Thanks a lot Activision… no really, I mean it. Thanks for announcing another game in the Skylanders franchise that will require me to dump innumerable amounts of cash on to little plastic figurines and now crystal traps. I knew I was in trouble when my kids I started getting addicted to the Swap Force game and now you throw Trap Team in their my face!? Keeping things in perspective feel free to read my last article about the Skylanders franchise: One Man vs the Skylanders: Dammit Activision… Shut Up and Take My Money!

For those of you not in the know, which can’t be many I’d assume, the hyper successful toys-to-life franchise Skylanders recently announced the next title in the series titled Trap Team. I’m sure parents all across the world let out a collective groan as they all know what’s on the next birthday, Christmas, bar mitzvah, Kwanzaa and kindergarten graduation list. If ever there was a franchise that got it right when it comes to emptying parent’s wallets of their hard earned cash it’s this one.

Now a lot of games that run on an annual or even bi-annual release schedule run the risk of over saturation. Unless you’re the mighty Call of Duty, the most over released franchise known to man, many gamers get bored with what’s on offer and start to stray away. Considering these are just $60 new games requiring very little aftermarket purchases how is it that a series like Skylanders can get away with a $100 buy in plus countless $10 to $15 dollar accessories and no one bats an eye? I’ll tell you why; the little bastards are cute. Not only that the team responsible for the franchise has come up with a completely unique selling feature each and every time. We went from the introduction of the Skylanders with Spyro’s Adventure to Giants which gave us big hulking Skylanders to play with. After that we get Swap Force where we can mix and match characters bodies to create over 256 unique combos and it’s now being followed up with these Trap Master characters.

The new Trap Master characters are larger than your average Skylander character and they sport awesome looking Traptanium weapons with which they’ll use to capture villains in the game. Keeping the new content fresh and exciting of course players will be able to trap these villains in Traptanium Shards which will also be able to sit on the portal. Once these villains are trapped the player has the option of using these characters themselves as newly reformed good guys. GENIUS! All of this works on a cool looking new portal that has a speaker mounted inside so you can hear the musings of the villain you’ve just captured in the shard. In hopes of keeping parents prepared for what this might do to the Christmas budget there are 40 Traptanium Shards alone not including the new Trap Master characters, redesigned series 4 characters and newly created core characters. I’ll help you out with the math: YOU’RE GONNA BE BROKE. You’re welcome.

Remember when I mentioned the little bastards were cute? Trap Team isn’t pulling any punches with new characters this time around. A personal favourite already is the mini T-Rex character Chopper who hovers around with his missile spewing helicopter jetpack. You’ve got Food Fight, a bazooka hauling badass… artichoke? Funny Bone is a charming undead skeleton version of the already popular Hot Dog from previous entries. I’m not sure where these guys get their imaginations from but I wouldn’t be surprised if they hold focus groups with 6 year olds because the combinations are wildly inventive and quite simply, a lot of fun.

As a parent of wee gamers I absolutely love this franchise and even though it hits me in the pocketbook on a fairly regular basis I still don’t mind dishing out the dollars. Perhaps it’s because I see the value that these toys have even with the console turned off as my child creates vivid stories and scenarios with the characters and his other toys. Then again it could be that I enjoy being able to play a light hearted game with my child that isn’t hyper violent and is easy for him to pick up. If I’m being 100% truthful of course I have to admit that even as a 36 year old man I have an inner child that has just as much fun with the series as my 6 year old.

Oh come on… who could say no to that?

I’m sure everyone involved with the Skylanders franchise is acutely aware of how close they are to over staying their welcome if they don’t bring new ideas and twists to each new game. So far they’ve held the attention of kids, and kids at heart, for three games and very likely a fourth. What they have in store for late 2015 is obviously still a mystery but if the innovation is there we’ll keep seeing the toys pile up in our living rooms as children continue to go nuts over the little plastic wonders.