Posted on July 20, 2011, Jim Sterling Why I’m Looking Forward to Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure
(This is another edition of </RANT>, a weekly opinion piece column on GameFront. Check back every week for more. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not reflect those of GameFront.)
It seems uncharacteristic for a 27-year-old writer who is known for vitriolic anger and a love of violent videogames to defend a title featuring brightly colored animals that fight each other with the help of gimmicky toys … but this is the reality you face. Gamers the world over seem outraged at best or dismissive at worst about Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure, and yet here I am, actively looking forward to it.
In case you’re unaware, Skylanders is a new scheme by Activision and Toys for Bob in which the world of action figures and videogames combine. In order for the game to produce playable characters, the player has to place a corresponding toy on a special reader, thus bringing that creature to life onscreen. Toys can be swapped out at any moment, allowing the player to change characters on a whim, providing they have the toys (and don’t worry, everything you need to play the game to completion is in the starter package). Now, I know right now that many of you find the idea tacky, infantile, and possibly disrespectful to the legacy of Spyro the Dragon. I, however, absolutely love the idea.
Yes, it’s tacky and yes it’s infantile, but you know what? I grew up in the Nineties, when tacky, infantile, thoroughly gimmicky products ruled the school. My formative years were spent surrounded by Mini Boglins and Mighty Max playsets. Barcode Battlers and TalkBoys were the premium electronics. If it was plastic and it had an utterly trite gimmick, it was a must-have item. This is what Skylanders represents to me, a throwback to the days when all you needed was a silly idea and some colorful toys. Even the design of the Skylanders themselves has a distinct nineties vibe, caught as it is between edgy and adorable.
As for Spyro? Well, as far as I’m concerned this is the best thing that could have happened to him. It’s true that he looks like he’s got some sort of syndrome now, but let’s face it — he wasn’t doing much better starring in regular videogames. Roping him into something that could potentially be a hot holiday item could do wonders for the character’s profile and could even — dare I say it — make him relevant again, even if only to a new generation of children. There are some gamers who said the Skylanders idea would be cool if Spyro wasn’t involved, but I find that a myopic sentiment. His being involved doesn’t affect the merit of the idea in any way, and nor does do his character any more of a disservice than he’s already endured over the past few years. As far as I’m concerned, nothing’s been lost with his involvement.
Maybe I’m just chasing my childhood here, but the days of collecting little bits of colorful plastic are recalled with a lot of fondness by myself, and I welcome a game that tries to bring those days back. Whether it will succeed or not depends on how well it’s marketed — and with Activision at the helm, it’ll likely do well — but I, for one, am actually quite excited to give it a go. I feel I owe it to the kid who was obsessed with POGS and GoGo’s Crazy Bones to at least give it a chance.
So yes … that was me defending Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure. What a strange experience.