COLUMN: Aaron's Backstage Pass: Skylanders Giants Review

Created: 11/23/2012 10:56 AM KSTP.com By: Aaron Chalich

Last year Activision released a game called “Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure” and it was a huge hit. This was a very unique game because the game came with a portal, which was a base that you would plug into your, Nintendo Wii, XBOX 360, or PS3. 

Then you would take little action figures that came with the game and you put them on the portal and they would come to life right in front of your eyes in the game. There were over 102 characters in the first set and you could buy them at just about every store.

The individual Skylanders characters were so popular that I remember that you could not find them, because as soon as they hit the shelves they would be gone.

Last month Activision released the next chapter in the “Skylanders” series called “Skylanders Giants.” After receiving my review copy for the PS3, I now know what all of the excitement was and is all about.

In my opinion, I think that “Skylander Giants” is going to be even bigger than the previous game. No pun intended.


The game is available for all of the systems and you can buy a starter pack that comes with three figures, game and a portal. If you already have the first game and a portal you can buy an expansion set that comes with the “Skylanders Giants” game and three figures.

Whoever came up with the idea to have a figure based game is a genius in my opinion. It is new and something that has never been done before. I can see why kids like Skylanders so much because they have something physical that they can touch and play with even after they are done playing the game.

The new set of Skylanders figures contain over 45 different characters. There are also giants that are much larger than the regular Skylanders. The giants are really cool, because when you put them on the base their eyes and hands glow and look neat. You can also use all of the Skylander characters from the first game and everything from “Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure” is compatible with “Skylanders Giants.”

The story of “Skylanders Giants” is that long ago there were giants and they were separated from the normal Skylanders. An evil character called “Kaos” has been turned into a toy and sent to Earth. The eventually wakes up and comes back to life. He creates a portal and goes back to Skylands. 

When he arrives he awakens a giant Skylander and takes control of him. He then learns of a hidden artifact that will give him control of all Giant Skylanders if he gains control of it. A group of good Skylanders learn of Kaos’s evil plan and they sent out on an adventure to stop him before he gains control of the artifact. Along the way they meet a number of unique characters and giant Skylanders.

I thought the story was pretty good and simple enough where kids will understand it. It wasn’t too complex and it was very entertaining.

The graphics were also very impressive. There was a lot of detail put into the game. There were times where there the screen was filled with enemies and characters and there was no lag. Everything ran smoothly. The cut scenes looked amazing and were very colorful. I also want to mention that the game is very bright and colorful.

Maybe that’s another reason kids like it so much. It’s not dark and everything is bright and fun.

The controls were very easy to learn. You move the character with the analog stick and you use the x button to fire your weapon, the triangle button to do specific tasks in the game and the circle button to do a special move. The in game tutorial was very helpful and made learning the controls pretty simple. The game says that it is for kids 6+, but my five-year-old daughter picked up on the controls right away and knows how to play the game as good as  I can.

There are eight main types of characters that you play with. They are made up of different elements and they are, earth, air, fire, water, tech, magic, life, and undead. The characters have the symbol of what element they represent on the bottom of their base. Each character has a unique power and abilities that they use in the game. 

The one thing that I really liked was that you can take the figures on and off of the base at any time to change them. This is really helpful because certain characters can only access certain areas in the game, so you do need to change the characters often. If there is an area that you cannot access because you don’t the specific type of character, you can go back later and replay the level.

You can also switch out the characters when they lose all of their health or are about to. The new Skylander will appear in the game with full health and you can continue on your journey.  You can do this as often as you have Skylanders.

As you play the game there are several puzzles that you have to solve. They are not that difficult but are still somewhat challenging. They usually consist of moving stone blocks to make a path or rolling a little creature in a box around to activate doors.

You can also gain experience to level up your character by defeating enemies. When you level up your character they become stronger and can take more damage. You also get money in the game and you can use the money to buy power ups or to upgrade your characters special powers.

As you play “Skylanders Giants” there are many different tasks and hidden things in each level. Such as hats that will give you more power when you wear them, scrolls that give more information about the Skylanders, and other upgrades for different characters.

I really liked Activision’s”Skylanders Giants” a lot. It is a really new type of game and it’s very unique. The characters are really neat and fun to collect. The game is really fun to play. The graphics look amazing and the controls are really easy to learn.

I think all ages will really like “Skylanders Giants’ a lot. There are so many things to go back and try to find with different characters, so I know I will be playing this game often.

Aaron Chalich is a columnist for KSTP.com blogging about the latest entertainment news.