Activision is definitely delivering on its promise to continue feeding Skylanders demand this fall with Skylanders Swap Force, a brand new adventure with more than enough new characters and gameplay improvements to keep fans engaged. But even if the console sequels weren't enough, the publisher today announced that n-Space is also working on a different, 3DS Swap Force game, also due out this fall. We had the chance to play through several levels of the new game and try out the new characters for ourselves.
The 3DS version follows the same basic design as the console versions. In addition to the dozens and dozens of Skylanders already out on the market, the game supports 32 brand new characters, 16 of which are composed of interchangeable upper and lower halves. These Swap Force Skylanders allow players to mix and match play styles, combining the attack powers of one figure's upper body with the movement powers of another figure's lower body. Want to be a magnet-wielding robot that bounces around on a rattlesnake tail? Or maybe a storm-flinging chicken that climbs around using octopus tentacles? You can do all of that. Me, I'm going for the magical owl with rocket boots.
Rather than just being a reduced version of the console experience, the 3DS version of Swap Force introduces an entirely new story complete with a new villain. Though it's hard to beat Kaos for pure comedy, the new villain, Count Moneybone, is nearly as fun. He's the hilariously dramatic lord of the undead who kicks off the game when his massive clockwork army attacks Skyland's Boomtown, the home of Flynn. Boomtown was just in the midst of the massive celebration for its own homegrown hero when Moneybone suddenly appears and kidnaps Cali. Now it's up to the Portal Masters to work with Flynn get her back and stop Moneybone from turning all of Skylands into a land of the dead.
What we saw of the story was fun, and in true Skylanders' style, it takes you through a wide range of seemingly incongruous settings that nevertheless seem to hang together. One minute, you're exploring a magical forest in search of missing fairies. The next, you'll find yourself celebrating the Dia de las Muertos in a bar with a skeletal mariachi band. It's all part of the everything-and-the-kitchen-sink charm of the franchise, which never seems to concern itself with whether or not a particular character or setting is necessarily consistent with any other. Rattlesnake cowboys, undead roller derby girls, and octopus pirates are all pretty much par for the course here.
The RPG-like progression of Skylanders is a lot more direct on the 3DS than it is on the consoles. Rather than using treasure to purchase new abilities, you'll instead just unlock pre-determined powers as you level up your characters. During your first few levels with any character, you'll open up a few basic attacks. Free Ranger gets a sort of lightning blast, for instance. After that, if it's a Swap Force Skylander, you'll next unlock that character's new swap power, which is almost exclusively a movement-focused power that often has some neat utility. Using Free Ranger again, he gets a sort of vortex power that not only lets him zip around the level, but also sucks in any nearby loot.
As with the console version, the distinction between the top and bottom halves of the Swap Force characters is a bit confusing at first but the general idea on the handheld version is the same; offensive powers and overall character levels are stored on the top half, and movement powers are stored on the bottom half. If you transfer figures between the two versions of the game, you'll maintain the character levels, but the abilities are determined by the platform. In other words, if you level up Rattle Shake on the 3DS, when you take him to the console, you'll still have to buy new abilities. If, on the other hand, you level him up on the console and buy all his upgrades, when you take him to the 3DS, he'll only have the abilities that should be unlocked based on his level.
The explanation is probably a bit more complicated than the reality of it all. The tricky bit will be remembering to write back the upgrades from the 3DS version onto the figures themselves. Since n-Space doesn't want you to have to carry around your whole Skylanders collection everywhere you go, you install new characters through the 3DS portal and then can just swap back and forth among them on the system itself. The interface for picking and mixing new Skylanders is remarkably simple. But since all the advancement data is stored on the system, you'll have to write that data onto the figure if you want to use that same figure on a console portal. Fortunately, it's all handled with the 3DS IR port and, while it takes a lot longer than it does on the console, it's fairly painless.
The game will be out October 13 in North America, October 16 in Australia, and October 18 in Europe. In addition to the game itself, the starter pack will include the 3DS portal, as well as Rattle Shake, Free Ranger, and a new Volcanic version of Eruptor.
Source : ign[dot]com