Skylanders Imaginators Review
Have you ever wanted to play a game as a snowman with a giant mallet? How about a scarecrow who throws circular saws at his enemies? Or maybe a fallen angel who traded in a sword or angelic bow for two avenging handguns? Skylanders Imaginators makes all of that possible, and more, with the limit only being your imagination.
Spyro returns with the whole gang as Kaos once again threatens the Skylands with impending doom. Kaos has discovered Mind Magic, a power once known only to the Ancients for creating anything and everything. With it, Kaos intends to build the ultimate army of Doomlanders and destroy Spyro and his buddies. To combat this new evil, players are tasked with creating new Skylanders – called Imaginators – with Imaginite, the building blocks of all things. Players will need to place their Creation Crystal on the Portal to bring it to life, each crystal color coded to represent one of the ten elements. When the crystal is first activated the player must select one of ten battle classes – the unique fighting style the Skylander will use. Be forewarned: once a battle class is selected it is unfortunately LOCKED to that crystal. Creation Crystals display their element as an emblem on the front but each crystal also comes with a set of stickers – one for each battle class – and a convenient spot on the opposite side to place it so you can horde crystals and keep track of who is who.
“There are literally hundreds of parts to unlock and you will easily unlock at least ten to fifteen parts per stage you play, bare minimum.”
Imaginators can otherwise be edited and changed on the fly at any time during gameplay. From a color swap, their weapon, or even their voice down to their entire appearance, making them a whole new character, with no load or save time. It’s pretty incredible considering the fine detail of each individual part and how seamlessly Imaginators are pieced together. There are a few limitations I found disheartening, however; the Ninja class will always be a head with limbs (no torso) and the swashbuckler will always have a tail instead of legs. While these are cool additions that make Imaginators even more unique, locking them to a specific class feels like it defeats the point of imagination. What if you wanted to make a cool pirate with two swords and a peg leg? Or an archer with a tail instead of legs? This seems like an odd misstep considering the heavy focus on creativity. There are, however, literally hundreds of parts to unlock and you will easily unlock at least ten to fifteen parts per stage you play, bare minimum. Stages can also be replayed for completion of special tasks, giving you a chance to get even more loot.
Of course, you can’t expect an army of new Imaginators to be combat ready, and that’s where the Senseis come in. Senseis are powerful warriors across a variety of elements and battle classes who will train your Imaginator, unlocking new powers and abilities, weapons, customizable parts, and increasing your Skylanders’ level cap with each Sensei scanned into the game. Every Sensei has a unique set of attacks and abilities, as well as a colorful and fantastic personality. Each character has a host of unique phrases and reactions, each with distinct voices. Wolfgang comments on how he can’t be measured in numbers, except by his stats. Tae Kwon Crow remarks how no barrier can stop him, except emotional barriers, which he is working on. Ambush has the delightful catchphrase of “Weed ’em and Reap!” The humor in this game is delightful, offering everything from fart jokes to self-deprecation and fourth wall breaks, making it a great time for young and old gamers alike.
“Blocking, Dodging, and Sprinting (whether during combat or exploration) all are absent. A real misstep considering the speed of combat.”
Combat can be wonderfully over the top, especially playing as Kaos himself where he aptly has earned his name: his attacks consist of randomly summoning a magic weapon to cause huge damage while laughing like a maniac. Even the Imaginators have multiple attacks to choose from, each one upgradable for more damage and insanity, which just makes it a pity that a few basic combat options don’t seem to appear. Blocking, Dodging, and Sprinting (whether during combat or exploration) all are absent. Blocking could be cast aside if we were at least given dodging, as enemies move at the same speed as Skylanders and large scale battles will see swarms of enemies surround you, not to mention splash damage attacks. Instead, we have to stop fighting and walk away to safety or jump around in hopes to avoid getting hit. Considering how fast paced everything can be, it really drags you down when you have to stop and walk around, especially between scenes when you have to walk rather than run.
Characters will collect coins by defeating enemies, breaking objects, and unlocking chests, with coins going towards upgrading their various attacks. It is not a communal wallet, however, so if you want to upgrade a specific character they need to be the one to pick up the coins. You’ll also be happy to hear there is no shortage of coins and you will quickly amass a small fortune in your travels so it’s simply a matter of changing up who you play as to make sure everyone is as strong as possible.
Racing returns to the series in the form of the Skylanders Raceway. There are twelve races in total, four for each kind of race: driving, flying, and surfing. These can be played solo or in online multiplayer to unlock more gear and coins. Courses are short but packed with a lot to see and appreciate and it feels like a nice break from the typical platforming now and then to jump in a kart and do a few laps.
“Skylanders Imaginators is a dream for gamers who love to customize, platform, and just blow stuff up.”
Stages are simple linear experiences with puzzles and some fun mini-games throughout to keep the experience from stagnating. While graphically it may not be a huge improvement from the last entry in the series, it’s definitely nothing to scoff at. The art style is vibrant, graphics are smooth with no loss in frame rate, and the audio features are beyond stellar, particularly pertaining to your Imaginators.Not only is your catchphrase, voice, and indeed musical theme customizable for individual characters but even the parts you select will add their own sound effects to gameplay. It’s a wonderful touch.
Skylanders Imaginators is a dream for gamers who love to customize, platform, and just blow stuff up. The customization options are both easy to use for beginners and advanced enough to make some truly fantastic creations. Combat can be wonderfully chaotic but the lack of dodging or sprinting can make it uncharacteristically slow considering how frantic the game is otherwise. With plenty to do and hundreds of parts to unlock, this is absolutely a game worth pouring your heart into as you will find yourself easily loving your Imaginators like your own children.
*** PS4 copy and Skylanders characters provided by publisher for review ***
- Character creation system
- Balanced platforming features
- Loveable characters
- Great humor
- Defensive combat lacking
- No sprinting
- Crystal ‘Battle Class’ permanent