Game review – Skylanders: Imaginators is the best game in this toys-to-life franchise

The third edition of Skylanders allows players to create their own playable creature although as is common with these sorts of games, you’ll need to buy lots of consumables to get the most out of it

PUBLISHED : Monday, 05 December, 2016, 1:02pm
UPDATED : Monday, 05 December, 2016, 1:02pm

Skylanders: Imaginators


4.5/5 stars

As the holiday shopping crunch approaches, many of us will need to think about what to get the young (or old, not judging) gamers in our lives.

Chances are pretty good that toys and accessories for the latest Skylanders game are somewhere on the list. The toys-to-life franchise is in its sixth year, having outlasted competitor Disney Infinity, which was discontinued in May. This year’s Skylanders: Imaginators (for PlayStation 3 and 4, Xbox 360 and One, and Wii U) is the third edition and is by far the best.

Each entry is essentially the same game with an added perk. In 2014, it was traps. Last year’s had race cars. This year’s allows players to create their own playable creature, rather than relying solely on the toys included in the starter bundle or sold separately. A fantastic creation suite allows players to customise their Imaginators’ looks and abilities.

The best way to start is with the Crash Edition start pack which includes the game, the portal controller, a poster and four Skylanders. Both the standard and Crash sets come with a creation crystal. This is what players use to create their own Skylander, which the game calls an Imaginator. The crystals have an element: light, dark, fire, water, earth, air, magic, life (grass), undead or tech. This element indicates what kind of magic powers the Imaginator will use. The Skylanders have elements as well.

The player pops in a crystal and chooses what weapon set to use (guns, swords, bare fists, etc.). Once a weapon choice is made, it cannot be unmade. If players pop in a fire crystal and choose swashbuckler, they will not be able to use the same crystal to create a fire sentinel. You will have to buy a new crystal in order to do that. That seems a bit harsh, asking a child to make such irreversible choices, but the toys-to-life genre exists in part to bleed parents dry.

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You can, however, change your Imaginator’s appearance and skills. You can also download a free app that allows you to customise your character on a tablet or smartphone.

The individual toy characters are called senseis, because each figure teaches Imaginators a unique ability and increases the maximum level an Imaginator can reach. So you have 10 senseis, you have access to 10 abilities and the maximum level each Imaginator can reach is increased by 10.

The senseis are playable throughout the game, of course, as are Skylanders from previous sections. But Imaginators are stronger in certain parts of the game and clearly the focus, as they’re the only ones who can use gear. Gear is equipment (weapons, armour, trinkets) unlocked by playing the game or spending actual money on digital treasure chests. You can also unlock new customisation options through play and chests. You’ll want to have at least a few Imaginators, but you probably don’t need one of each type.

If you’ve been on the fence about it until now, pick up Skylanders: Imaginators. It’s almost certainly the best game in the franchise.