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Skylanders Giants Starter Pack Review

Skylanders Giants Review

Predictably, a number of critics were dismissive of 2011’s Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventures. Built around the concept of purchasing real-world figurines that were capable of transforming into in-game characters, the title was depicted as little more than a brazen money-grab by a handful of detractors. However, history is apt to offer a divergent interpretation. As one of the more popular inaugural entries launched amidst a dispirited economy, Skylanders succeeded by providing a polished family-friendly game that could be enjoyed by children and adults. Both audiences discovered collection revolved around more than just the simple assessment of statuettes; game mechanics prodded players along, with the temptation of a new reward constantly within reach.

Although sequel Skylanders Giants drops the plucky purple dragon from its designator, players can be assured that developers Toys for Bob haven’t radically tampered with their winning formula. Placing a figurine on the starter pack’s Portal of Power remains captivating, with the USB-connected peripheral quickly recognizing any of the game’s new standard-sized statues, series two revisions (exhibiting augmented abilities), or massive Giants. Smartly, Sypro’s Adventures figures are compatible with the sequel, carrying over their stats from the original game while offering an elevated level cap. Series Two Skylanders such as Zook, Whirlwind, Terrafin, Slam Bam, Trigger Happy and Ignitor can even be imported into the original title.

Skylanders Giants Review

As the moniker indicates, Giants are the significant supplement to Skylanders, with each starter pack shipping with Tree Rex- a lumbering, but devastating, flora reminiscent of the Ents from The Lord of the Rings. With roughly twice the hit points and offensive output of conventional characters, each of the new Giants offers an ideal point of entry for younger, less dexterous players- particularly for some of the game’s more daunting bosses. For Skylanders vets, these hulking protagonists provide a number of new gameplay mechanics, transforming obstructive boulders into weapons of mass destruction or crashing through floors- surrendering an entrance to subterranean territories.

Much like its predecessor, Skylanders Giants shrewdly regulates access. Elemental classes act as gatekeepers, allowing fire-based characters like Eruptor to explore lava-filled alcoves teaming with treasure. Uncovering a Soul Gem in a stage allows a Skylander to purchase an additional upgrade. If it’s linked to a creature you don’t own, gamers are presented with a short gameplay video parading the new power. Occasionally, players might get the feeling that they’re a participant in Toys for Bob’s clandestine research study in consumer behavior. The game’s ability to pique curiosity without ever becoming domineering is meticulously balanced, resulting in a few impromptu retail runs for this Skylander-fixated reviewer.

Skylanders Giants Review

Although additional figures aren’t required to complete Giants’ main campaign, there are undoubtedly helpful. Near the end of the game’s sixteen level quest, the level of challenge ramps up significantly. Since each statuette bestows its own allocation of hit points, having additional characters helps to temper the upsurge in difficulty. Of course, dogged perseverance is proves beneficial, with exploration boasting the abilities of each Skylander, as well as leading to the possible discovery of a stat-boosting hat.

Essentially, Skylanders Giants core play mechanics remains unchanged.  The title’s levels are still teeming with destructible objects, each holding a bit of in-game currency, much like the game’s collection of foes. Breezy puzzles complement the combat, tasking players with locating keys to open gates or pushing animals to create makeshift walkways. Although jump pads allow characters to access elevated areas, Skylanders still lack the ability to leap, which may seem a bit limiting for fans of action role-playing games like Champions of Norrath and Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance. The upside is that unlike the LEGO franchise, Skylanders Giants is free of the conundrums than often bewilder younger participants.

Skylanders Giants Review

Beyond the opportunity to play the title’s campaign co-operatively, Giants brings back the Battle Mode, offering an alternative method to building a bankroll or building experience. Here, two local participants can initiate engaging skirmishes between their Skylanders, although the lack on an online complement or four-player matches feel like a missed opportunity. The game’s other transgression is the length of its campaign, which is roughly 25% shorter than Spyro’s Adventures.

Since family-oriented fare often gravitates toward slipshod licensed titles, it’s gratifying to see an engaging and entertaining title such as Skylanders Giants. With the ability to beguile both children and adults, the starter pack represents an ideal (albeit, a bit pricey at $75 USD) catalyst to bring divergent audiences together during the upcoming holidays.

Skylanders Giants Review

About Robert Allen

With over 35 years of gaming experience, Robert 'DesertEagle' Allen is Tech-Gaming's resident worrier/warrior who spends his days teaching at three colleges and his nights devoted to JRPGs.


  1. I have the Portal of Power from the last game. Can I just get the game and a few figures instead of having to buy another base?

  2. I’ve been playing this pretty much nonstop with the kids. (Since they love Skylanders).

    They love the way real toys they can hold and take to bed with them are part of the game.

    I love that its actually kind of fun. It’s one of those games where you tell the wife “its for the kids” but it’s actually for you. Like LEGOs.

  3. Slightly Altered Beast

    The graphics don’t look all that great. Are those Xbox 360, PS3 or Wii pics?

  4. I have no kids, so I’m a bit embarrassed about buying this in person. Thanks god for Amazon.

  5. I really want this, even bought a Giant already. I’m hoping for a BF sale like last year.

  6. @fdRaiden I guess we need to battle again, right bro?

    @Deagle Good review. This is the first review that I’ve seen that mentioned the game is shorter. Do you know if they’ll sell items to add levels (like they did with the Pirate Ship for SA)?

  7. Can someone point me in the right direction of any store having a sale on the Skylanders figures?

  8. Wait a minute. It’s 25% shorter and still gets a B+?

  9. Does Trigger Happy still have that crazy laugh ever 5 seconds?

  10. It’s pretty cool the old ones work. Do they get any new abilities?

  11. I thought the first game was a big bore. Walking around, button mash, collect junk so you can find new ways to button mash. Repeat for 10 hours then look at your collection of cute plastic.

    From what I can tell, they didn’t change the formula for this. Time for you grown men to wake up and smell the coffee.

    • Ok, it’s not for you. Why must you feel the need to force your opinion on me. I’m a grown, college-educated, single man. If I want to spend money on Skylanders where’s the harm?

  12. I’ll probably pick up the Portal Owners pack.

    Totally agree about the multiplayer. I wish there was online.

  13. Does anyone know the store-exclusive Skylanders?

    • Wave 1 figures available at launch:

      Tree Rex Giant (Included in starter pack)
      Jet Vac (Included in starter pack)
      Cynder – Series 2 (Included in starter pack)
      Bouncer (Giant)
      Crusher (Giant)
      Swarm (Giant)
      LightCore Prism Break
      LightCore Eruptor
      LightCore Drobot
      Pop Fizz
      Fright Rider
      Zook (Series 2)
      Whirlwind (Series 2)
      Terrafin (Series 2)
      Slam Bam (Series 2)
      Trigger Happy (Series 2)
      Ignitor (Series 2)

      Toys “R” Us Exclusives Available at Launch:

      Legendary Bouncer
      Legendary Triple Pack – Includes Legendary Jet Vac, Legendary Ignitor, aned Legendary Slam Bam.

      GameStop Exclusives Available at Launch:

      Battle Pack – Includes Shroom Boom and Chop Chop (Series 2)

      Target Exclusives Available at Launch:

      Granite Crusher (brand new art deco version)

      Wal-Mart Exclusives Available at Launch:

      Glow in the dark starter pack.

  14. I can wait for a price drop or BF on this. Too many other games to play right now.

  15. Bought this today at Target and met another embarrassed adult inline. Makes we wonder how many copies are sold to kids vs. adults.

  16. Just picked up three Giants for $8.99 apiece.