I’m not sure any family of 5-10 year olds has managed to avoid the phenomena that is Skylanders. Three years ago, Activision brought merchandising to life by creating a game with real action figures that you could pop on a portal and see them appear as playable characters on the screen. The technology to parents is simply magic, to kids it is just the way it is and now simply expected as the norm.
We have had further iterations form the original Skylanders Spyro’s Adventure: Skylanders Giants and also Skylanders Swap Force developed the characters further. Swap Force let you swap the tops and bottoms to create some great variations of the little critters for use in the game.
Activision created a way of turning a £40 game purchase into an ongoing investment in game play characters. Disney quickly followed suit with their Infinity game, using characters from their films but Activision invented the genre and look set to continue the innovation this year.
So what next? Well Activision has announced that in October 2014, Skylanders Trap Team™ will reverse the magic of bringing toys to life by letting players capture villains and play as them using Traps that bring life to toys with the new Traptanium Portal.
In practice this means that as well as putting characters on the portal and have them appear in the game, players can also catch and trap other characters and bring them out of the game and into the Traptanium Portal. The characters then chatter away to the gamer and can be stored in crystals that connect to the Portal for use in the game as well. get ready everyone sounds like an investment in another Portal, will it be worth it?
At Gamewagon we are big proponents of social video gaming and Activision has announced that this new play pattern also gives players the option to switch between playing as a Skylander hero or a villain at any time, creating fun and unique “tag team” gameplay. In addition, fans can even take their Traps and their Skylanders characters to their friends’ houses for fun, co-operative adventures across all console game systems. We like the sound of that and look forward to seeing it in action.
You and your wallet may have survived the Skylander phenomenon that linked collectable characters with a video game. Well get ready for Mixels from Lego.
Lego Mixels are a range of unique characters that belong to one of nine tribes, each with a distinct colour and style to differentiate them. Made from Lego parts they can all be combined to create a mix (combining Mixels of different tribes), max (combining Mixels of the same tribe), and murp (when a mix goes horribly wrong).
Lego Mixels is a quite unique approach as the cartoon shorts (Cartoon Network) and the toys were developed in unison, with both debuting at the same time.
Supporting them on the video gaming front is the Lego Mixels App, “Calling All Mixels”, which allows you to play with your Mixels in a virtual environment as you mix, max and murp them together to defend against the evil Nixels.
Lego could have a huge hit on their hands with the Mixels; and at only £3 per character, they’re a little less of a hit for parents too!
We are often asked about the suitability of our video game birthday parties and entertainment for girls. My own daughter is a FIFA fanatic but also has grown up playing Jak & Daxter, Mario Kart, and Super Mario Bros on consoles and not just Singstar and dance mats. There is no doubt in my mind that girls love video games of all genre as much as the boys. We see them every week playing together and having an absolute blast.
However, it is interesting when you take a view from afar and start to consider what kind of female characters exist inside the games that she historically played. There is no doubt there is a huge bias towards male characters but we talked about it and it was not something she was really aware of, or that ruined her fun at the time.
Our friend Andy at Family Guy TV recently posed a similar point to Activision at the New York Toy fair. Skylanders has been an amazing phenomenon but the character set has been predominantly biased towards male characters. Although the development team felt they were gender neutral!
We have recently seen Angry Birds Stella announced, which is a version of the game targeted specifically at girls (judging from her colour and types of toys being sold). While boys will likely enjoy playing this as well it will be interesting to see if Skylanders goes a similar route.
With the Swap Force figures seemingly all being male, does Skylanders 4 need to re-address the balance? What video games do your daughters play? Do they have any favourite female video game characters?
We will take a close up look at some of the favourite female Skylanders in preparation for announcements on the new game. Here is Sky who packs a fiery punch.
BAFTA has published the nominations for its awards for games in 2014. Of particular interest to us at Gamewagon are the family video game nominations shown below. Two of our huge favourite video game party titles are featured; Rayman Legends and Super Mario 3D World.
These awards are great, not only do they recognise the talent that is behind these incredible games but they also put games in the same context within the arts as film and television.
Video games have come a long way and it is important that parents understand this and appreciate why video games are rated in a similar way to films with regards to age appropriateness.
A full list of the nominations is available at BAFTA Games. In the category for “Family”, nominations are: Rayman Legends; Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons; Tearaway; Animal Crossing: New Leaf; Super Mario 3D World; and (unsurprisingly) Skylanders SWAP Force.
Below is a link to more news on the BAFTA Awards and other family gaming news from Andy Robertson of Family Gamer TV.
Angry Birds has always been a firm favourite with Gamewagoners on iPad and consoles. Now, Rovio has announced a new Angry Birds brand being developed called Angry Birds Stella.
“Get ready to meet Stella and her friends! Stella may be pink, but she’s definitely one of the Angry Birds, a fierce and a feisty character with a great group of friends. Of course no story is complete without some interesting (fr)enemies! Angry Birds Stella will open a door to a part of the Angry Birds universe you’ve never seen before! There will be plenty of fun and adventure, but the bunch of passionate pals will also have to deal with some serious issues in order to protect their friendship and the environment they live in. Luckily, Stella and her friends are good at finding creative solutions!”
There’ll be games, cartoons, books, toys, and more to tell stories about Stella and her friends and (fr)enemies. The new tagline? “Best friends forever… most of the time”.
Watch the video courtesy of Family Guy TV presenter Andy Robertson and we will keep you posted as launch date becomes clearer.