Platforms PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Wii, Wii U
Publisher Activision Developer Toys for Bob
Genre Action-Adventure Platform Played PlayStation 4
The mascot platformers of yester-year have all but vanished these days, with memorable franchises now sidelined and slowly drifting into mere memories. Skylanders Trap Team embraces the past iterations of the mascot platformer, bringing with it lovable characters and an outlandish world filled with beautiful locations.
Skylanders Trap Team contains an extensive story mode, which can take upwards of a dozen hours to complete the 18 chapters on offer. Though the overall narrative is quite similar to past mascot platformers, the adventure did enough to keep me entertained throughout, despite its predictable tale. Cut scenes are well presented with a high quality Pixar-esque visual model, while dialogue between characters is charming and delightful; though a handful of cringe-worthy references to internet slang provide some low points. The main problem with Trap Team’s story mode is the tedious nature of each mission.
Once hitting around half way through the main campaign, it became quite obvious that almost each chapter contained the same structure. Though Trap Team does try to add new gameplay elements to freshen up the experience, such as turret sections, a range of puzzles and mini-bosses. These new additions are reused so often that the repetitive structure becomes obvious. I think the main issue here is that Trap Team tries to provide a lengthy experience, with this the emphasis on the interesting story takes a back seat to levels that feel like they overstay their welcome. Needless to say the story’s long length is more of a detriment than a positive.
Oddly enough, story mode also lacks checkpoints. If all the characters you own perish before the levels completion, there is no option to restart from a checkpoint within the level. Instead you will be forced to replay the entire chapter, even if you were one hit away from defeating the level. It’s a strange system and can become quite frustrating when tackling difficult sections.
Trap Team’s unique addition to the Skylanders franchise is the ability to trap your enemies. Once an enemy is defeated, an elemental trap of the same nature can be used to capture this individual, allowing them to join the side of good and become a playable character. This unique inclusion allows those who simply purchase the basic starter pack to have access to over 10 characters out of the box, without throwing more money towards more characters.
Traps are inserted into the new Traptanium Portal and when these villains are caught their audio will emit from the device. I loved hearing the villains I have just defeated get transferred into the device, with their witty dialogue sprouting from the Portal throughout gameplay. The audio transition from television to the Portal is excellent. Your trapped villains can be used wherever you like and each also has their own mission to complete. These missions are based around redeeming the villainous actions of their past, with a new colour palette bestowed upon the victorious villain. These missions are fairly basic and don’t allow cooperative play, as they are strictly solo missions.
Though only 1 character can be caught within each trap at a time, the extended range of playable characters helps emphasise how unique each character is and how their range of abilities greatly differentiate from one another.
These are not just mere visual differences either, with each character controlling drastically different from the last. Snap Shot and Food Fight are the two heroes that are included in the basic starter pack. Snap Shot focuses on long range attacks with his bow and arrow, while Food Fight centered around utilising his vegetable bombs and close range shotgun attack to deal a plethora of damage. Villains that can be captured also play extremely differently, each housing their own ability that can be used to support your Skylander.
Each Skylander figure has their own upgradable abilities, unfortunately villains that are trapped cannot be upgraded in any way. The upgrade system is quite sparse, with only a handful of upgrades available for each character. This meant I had the abilities of each characters fully upgraded within a handful of hours, since they can be purchased with in-game money rather than determined by your level. This meant once my upgrades were purchased, I had thousands upon thousands of dollars that couldn’t be spent.
This was a real shame as it took the exciting nature of finding hidden treasure chests filled with gold, and instead made them irrelevant. The abundance of cash and the lack of the purchasing options makes your ever growing bounty seem pointless. Options to purchase extra life’s to combat the odd checkpoint system, or perhaps items to further customise the main world hub would have been useful purchases. Customisable trinkets and hats that provide statistical boosts can be purchased, but the range on offer is small to say the least.
The main hub world within Skylanders Trap Team is a great way of connecting each mode available within one area. There is no need to back out of menus in order to access different modes, they can all be accessed through the one connected hub. The main hub expands as you progress throughout the story, with near wings and areas being added. These new areas include some 2D platforming sections, new characters to speak to, as well as some terrible rhythm-based rap battles. Seriously, avoid these if possible.
Skylanders Trap Team doesn’t push next generation visuals to the breaking point, but the tremendous use of colour brings a beauty to the world. Each area throughout Trap Team looks spectacular, due to the assortment of colours and the Pixar-like art style. Each character also looks great with the array of unique characteristics and colours, each individual stands out. From the piñata-styled goliath, the teeth-baring treasure chest, and the jetpack wearing goblin, the creative nature of these characters designs is impeccable. Character design is one of Skylanders’ best aspects, with each hero and villain designed with great care.
Skylanders Trap Team allows for two player cooperative gameplay, and this is where the most fun is to be had in Trap Team. Aside from the main story Trap Team offers two varieties of wave-based modes, known as the Kaos Challenge and Arena Mode. In Kaos Challenge players must defend an item against randomly generated waves of enemies, while also constructing a small set of towers to help defend. Each round of Arena Mode takes place within three separate waves of enemies, while new conditions are added to increase the challenge. Players may have to defend cloning areas and stop enemies from making multiple copies of themselves, or suffering from a one hit death.
Both these modes are fine playing solo, but they come into another element when played with a friend. These modes are extremely challenging, but they never feel out of reach. The reliance and cooperative nature of these modes allow for some great strategical play, as you balance new challenges whilst helping each other take down the enemy. These modes are perfect for children looking for a strong challenge, or hardcore gamers looking for an intense local cooperative experience.
Sadly local cooperative play isn’t always fantastic, this is due to the absurd camera angles and the distance both characters are allowed to be from one another. The camera is frequently too close to your characters and due to its set location, we found ourselves falling to our deaths frequently. Both players are tethered to one another and at certain if they become too far apart, both characters respawn next to one another. This system completely breaks when using jump pads if both characters don’t jump at the exact same time. The system will assume someone has fallen initiating a respawn cycle, as both characters bounce and respawn until you struggle free. Both these issues keep cooperative play from being as fun as it should be.
Skystone Smash, the collectable card game within the Skylanders franchise returns in Trap Team. Surprisingly this card game offers an extended amount of depth within the basic premise. Players battle A.I opponents in a similar fashion to the Yu-Gi-Oh! card game, where players can be attacked directly if they don’t have card to defend them. I quite enjoyed these matches, but found little challenge from computer opponents. An online option to play these battles against other players would have been an interesting addition.
Skylanders Trap Team made me want to be a kid again, bringing back the beautiful memories of some of my favourite mascot platformers of the past. Brimming with beautiful worlds, great character design, and some impressively challenging side modes. Trap Team is an excellent installment to the Skylanders franchise. Though the main story overstays its welcome, it is the odd lack of checkpoints and the absurd fixed camera that cause the majority of frustration.
Skylanders Trap Team will provide an abundance of entertainment for children, but there is a lot of fun to be had for those looking for a fun title overflowing with personality.
Gorgeous use of colours.
Arena Mode/Kaos Challenge.
Trapping villains offers extensive range of playable characters.
Absurd fixed camera.
Odd lack of checkpoints.
Story missions overstay their welcome.