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Skylanders Trap Team Review: Playing as the Bad Guys is Now Possible, But It’ll Cost You

I confess: I am 26-years-old and I love Skylanders. Love? I mean I’m addicted to them. I’ve played the both Spyro’s Adventures, Giants, Swap Force and I’m still hooked. I guess you can say I’ve been waiting an entire year to play Trap Team.

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With last year’s Swap Force, Activision changed Skylanders in a big way. Instead of simply selling standalone figurines, Swap Force added swappable body parts. Players could mix and match two body halves and create a new hybrid Skylander. At the same time, the hybrid Skylander would have dual abilities — one for the top and one for the bottom.

What could Activision possibly do to top Swap Force and improve on what is best-selling video game/toy franchise?

Simple: let you “capture” villains and play as them in the game. The big asterisk next to that? You’ll need to buy “Traptanium Traps”, crystal-like stakes with their own elements. Want to capture a “Life” villain? You better have a Life Traptanium Trap handy. The same goes for the six other elements, including the special “Kaos” Trap which only lets you capture the game’s bald-headed peabrain. Oh, and each trap can only hold one villain, which sucks, but is another way the company forces you to buy more.

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Once you trap a villain, you can switch between it and a Skylander. This new mechanic of having good and evil characters working at your whim, each with their own sets of powers works nicely. It’s almost like a crime to mix the two, but yet I had no qualms with capturing baddies and turning them over to the good side.

Otherwise, Trap Team is your typical Skylanders game. Players pop Skylander figurines onto the new Traptanium Portal (which now has a slot for Traps and also a built-in speaker for that extra level of immersion) and then the toys appear as characters on the TV. It still feels like sorcery.

The plot is not going to win any critical acclaim: Kaos has blown open a prison and let out a boatload of evil villains into Skylands. Your job is? If you guessed “Use Trap Master Skylanders” to stop and capture them” then you deserve a cookie. The story might be unoriginal, but most games boil down to good versus evil.

Trap Team differentiates itself with the new toy mechanics and bad guy-capturing traps. There are a ton of new characters to fall in love with — 16 new Trap Master Skylanders, 16 new Skylanders, and 16 Mini (more on that below) Skylanders. Some puzzles like Skystones make a return from Giants, but with more advanced gameplay.

Unsurprisingly, Trap Team is a beautiful game. I’ve played all previous Skylanders on the Xbox 360, but the power of the PlayStation 4 just makes the worlds and characters that much more like a 3D animated film. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Trap Team on PS4 is like playing a Pixar movie. The added details, lighting and draw distances are the little details that make the game so hard to stop staring at. Little kids don’t know how good they have it with these graphics.

Trap Team is not a long game. That’s no surprise considering the target audience for it is still mostly children. Sure, dorky adults like me get a huge kick out of playing the game and we obviously have more money to blow on either buying the toys to play with or collecting them, but the game’s designed for kids and they aren’t the type to play 20+ hour games. Trap Team takes no more than 10 hours to complete, depending on your skill level. And I suppose it depends on how many figurines you have, too.

Activision deserves an award for publishing the game on so many platforms. I can’t remember the last time a game went all out on eight platforms: PS4, Xbox One, Wii U, Wii, PS3, Xbox 360, Nintendo 3DS and Tablets.

 

As always, the game’s portal is backwards compatible with all previous figurines. The new, Trap Team Skylanders, however aren’t backwards compatible in old games.

The $74.99 Starter Set (PS4) that I reviewed comes with the game, two Skylanders (Food Fight and Snap Shot), two traps, trading cards, and some sticker sheets.

Trap Master Skylanders figurines retail for $14.99, regular Trap Team Skylanders cost $9.99 to $10.99 and Traptanium Traps cost $5.99. There are even some “Legendary” and “Triple” packs that cos $24.99 and $13.99.

And if shelling a ton of moolah for those plastic toys weren’t enough, Activision also suggests that you buy its “Minis” figurines — miniature versions of your favorite Skylanders. They come in two packs for $13.99. Yes, they’re adorable, and yes I bought a few on a whim at my local Target. I’m a sucker for playing through all of Trap Team. Sue me.

In addition to the standard Starter Edition, Activision also sells a “Dark Edition” for $99.99. This bundle is available for the PS4, Xbox One, Wii U, Wii, PS3 and Xbox 360. It includes the game, the new portal, 3 dark Skylanders, 3 Traps, a two-sided poster, 3 sticker sheets and a secret codes.

Verdict

Trap Team is the fourth Skylanders game in the franchise and it pushes the toys hard. This time around, Activision wants you to buy Skylanders (in a variety of sizes and at different prices) and Traps to capture those bad guys. If you thought the previous games were designed to break your wallet, think again. That’s not to say Trap Team is a stale game; it’s not. It’s very well-designed for children with humorous dialogue and gorgeous visuals. If you liked previous Skylanders game, there’s a very good chance you’ll like Trap Team.

Buy it!

The Good: Trap Team is a gorgeous game — more beautiful than Swap Force. Skystones returns as Skystones Smash. The new portal has a built-in speaker that adds an extra level of immersion when “capturing” villains from the TV.

The Bad: Each Trap only holds one villain. There are too many toys and unlocking all the special areas in the game require you to spend even more money on figurines and Traps.

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