While I missed out on the first two entries of the franchise, I did get to experience the third installment, Swap Force, last year. It was a pretty fun game that made most who play it addicted to both the gameplay and the purchase of the toy figures you needed to unlock certain areas. Well Activision is back at it again with game studios Beenox and Toys for Bob to take the Skylanders franchise to new heights of gameplay and even more things to collect in Skylanders: Trap Team.
As with previous games, the evil Kaos has once again returned to cause well…chaos by releasing several superpowered bad guys from Cloudcracker prison who were imprisoned by the heroic trapmasters, beings who have special weapons made of Traptanium to trap evil and seal it away. Now it falls to you to use your trapmasters and traps to capture the baddies who have escaped along with some other trappable villains who will fight on your side once captured, all while collecting trinkets and gems to help level up your character and give them more powers and abilities. Thanks to the all new trap portal that comes with the game, you not only place a Skylander on it, but it can also hold an element trap for you to capture various baddies. And while the game is available on other consoles, it’s pretty amazing that it’s also available on mobile devices such as the iPad, complete with a mini controller in tow.
This makes for some pretty fun and interesting gameplay, as once you capture a villain during your adventure (when you defeat a trappable one, you’ll be prompted to insert the correct element trap to capture it), you can switch between your hero and villain at anytime with the press of a button, though the villain has a set amount of time it can stay out before having to return to the trap. Adding even more fun to the game is that the new trap portal features a speaker by the trap slot, which lets you hear the villain you’ve trapped as you play. Depending on which baddies you have in the trap (each trap can hold two, but only one can be used at a time), they’ll make comments as to how they’re ready to get out there and help, to remarking at your score and achievements. This is hands down one of the most funny and clever things I’ve seen (and heard) in gaming, and is bound to put a smile on anyone’s face who plays.
Now that I’ve covered the fun parts, it’s time to cover the not so fun stuff. One of the gripes I have with the game right off the bat is how slow the trapmaster characters are while moving around and making your way through the game. The one that comes with the game named Snap Shot seems to move slower than molasses in the winter. Even when I switched to the other Skylander that comes included named Food Fight, he too seems to move rather slow for someone to be smaller and supposedly more nimble. Now let’s address the elephant in the room, the money pit that is Trap Team. It was already expensive enough buying just figures for the previous games, but now you have to buy both figures and the traps if you are to truly get everything out of this game.
To make matters worse, there are locked doors you can’t open and untrappable enemies throughout thanks to the correct trapmaster and traps not even existing yet. I get that they want to drag it out so you can’t do everything all at once, but this is just downright nuts, especially given that there’s seven more trapmasters you have to buy (which currently go for $16 a pop) and 46 villains you can capture (the price for the traps varies on how many traps of a certain element the player wants and if they buy them separately or in a three-pack). So yeah, we’re easily talking about another $200 or so (not counting the other new figures you can get) on top of the $75 you have to spend on the game / starter pack, which comes with one trapmaster, one Skylander, and two traps (life and water elements).
At least there’s more to do this time around, as you can do battle arenas as with the previous games, and there’s also a mode called Kaos’ Doom Challenge. Here you get to use your Skylanders in a tower defense-like game with elemental towers to build and upgrade. There’s also other little extras to find in the main city that serves as the central hub to the game, such as a trap storage unit where you can swap out villains in your traps, an upgrade station to power-up your characters, hidden bonus games that play out in a 2.5D view and more.
While the money pit part of the game and the sluggish movement bothers me a bit, Skylanders: Trap Team still comes recommended just because it’s a great looking, simple and fun game to play for players of all ages. Heck, just hearing the enemies you’ve trapped talk through the trap portal speaker is enough to warrant a purchase. One can only wonder though if next year’s model will have players buying three different things to proceed in the game, in which parents and their wallets will truly have something to fear.