We here at Mouse n Joypad firmly believe that certain games have a target audience, and while the Skylanders franchise is fun it has a target audience that, well, is somewhat younger than most of us. We decided for the Skylanders Trap Team review, we would do something different, and a member of that target audience in to review the game while we sat and looked on taking notes and watching the reactions. So we would like to introduce you to JJ, an eight year old that has somewhat of a passion for gaming, that probably stems from the household he is growing up in. JJ has Skylander figures for all of the previous titles, and has also played all of the previous releases in the franchise, so he was only too happy to oblige and quickly made short work of the box surrounding the goodies inside. In fact from the moment he looked through the box window, he immediately fell in love with the biggest figure in the box, a bow and arrow wielding lizard called Snap Shot, part of the water element collection of figures.

JJ’s favourite Snap Shot in all his glory, with a villain locked up behind bars

Let’s begin by filling you in on the storyline for Skylanders trap Team. Chaos, that dastardly villain from previous releases, has only gone and released some of the most fearsome and dangerous villains from Cloudcracker Prison in a bid to rule Skyland once and for all. However, these villains have other plans and want it for themselves. Chaos, realising his mistake, goes to the Skylanders for help in trapping these wayward rogues with the use of Traptanium a magical and mysterious material that can harness the power of the elements. Using this material you can not only trap the villainous Skylanders, but also take control of them as you release them from the trap to fight for you. That is if you feel like releasing them. As this story unfolded in front of JJ his reaction was to leap up shouting, “Look Chaos is not bad anymore, look, look he is helping us now!” That right there is why this game is best played by the target audience, the look of excitement and utter joy on his face was astonishing, as he continued into Skyland. The first thing you will notice about Skylanders Trap Team is the change in portal, this portal has a place to stick the traps into, two of which came supplied with the title. Just below where you plug these traps in is what looks like a prison door, or a trap door if you wish, with a speaker built in behind that.

This is where the magic really started to happen for JJ, after defeating his first villain he was directed to insert an Earth element trap, which he did, and once that was done the villain disappeared from the screen screaming and shouting as he went, until he was inside JJs trap. Once again JJ jumps up, “listen he is in there and he’s talking to me”, he said. Every once in a while the villain would start spewing out some one liners, and every time JJ answered him back, it was amazing to watch how JJ was reacting to the little voice coming directly from the portal. These little animated creatures were actually getting trapped and were now talking to him, and he totally believed it, he was engaged to the point of blocking everything else around him out. We were amazed at how this little piece of plastic and wires could immediately have a bright and intelligent little person totally engrossed. The fact of the matter is that the target audience for the Skylanders franchise is still in the wonderful stage of development that has a major focus on imagination. To someone like that these little Skylander figures may just as well be alive and talking to them, because in their mind, they are!

Eat this!

Getting further and further into the campaign mode on Skylanders Trap Team JJ started to come across villains that needed elemental traps that did not come in the starter set, and to be honest he was a bit disappointed by this, as he wanted to trap them all and speak to them, now! The starter set came complete with 2 Skylanders and two elemental traps, other traps will cost additional money, and quite a bit of additional money. JJ tried all of the Skylanders he owns from the previous titles and everyone of them appeared on the screen, much to his delight, but continued to use Snap Shot for the entire time he played, taking no heed to which element of Skylander was stronger in which zone. He was completely absorbed in this one character, this character was who he wanted to be at that particular time and transported all of his imagination into the figure. It is how we older gamers play if you think about it, sometimes it’s the character that draws us to a game rather than the game itself and for our time inside that computer generated world we are that person. Over about four days JJ totally wrapped himself into the world of Skyland and his only complaint was that he needed more traps, and that is where the parent trap comes in, as these additional traps are not cheap.

Skylanders Trap Team adds some originality when it comes to mixing it up, as do most of the franchises releases, unlike other franchises we could mention. The graphical upgrade on the new generation of console is very welcome, with it looking more and more like a CG cartoon than ever, and that’s not a bad thing. Along the way you will encounter the usual gates that only certain element Skylanders can open, and behind these are side quests and unique items among other interesting things. The only thing about these gates is that only trap masters of that element can open them, in other words they have to be Skylander figures of the Trap Team release, and JJ tended to not bother about these, after he tried in vain on numerous occasions to open them with characters of the correct element from previous series. Switching from Skylander to trapped villain was easy and JJ found himself switching often during big battles, because he didn’t want his favourite Snap Shot dying and having to take a rest, forcing him to use a different character. When playing as the villain you are limited to time and how fast his health runs out before you either have to transport him back to the trap, or he is automatically transported for you.

Overall the mechanics of the game have changed little from the start of the franchise, with the main emphasis being on simple platforming to get through the levels. They have managed to introduce some new elements to keep the overall experience fresh in the form of a type of tower defence game and a card game something like Hearthstone that JJ found extremely enjoyable, just to name a couple. Upgrading your Skylanders abilities and weapons is something JJ did whenever he could, that was until he bought all the available upgrades for Snap Shot and then decided to save every penny, continually stopping to ask “How much have I got now?”, which was not in any way annoying. However the main draw for Skylanders Trap Team remains the ability to trap villains and then play them, a factor that even we were eager to try out, if we were allowed to get near the portal and controller that is. No matter how you view the Skylanders franchise it definitely streaks ahead of the competition in terms of captivating the minds of its audience. JJ has played other titles with the toys to life idea including Disney Infinity, which he soon got bored of, and just forgot about within two days. This title ticked all the boxes for JJ and if it came with more traps, he would definitely be a happier boy, for now he will have to wait and see what Santa brings. Once finished we asked JJ his score for each of the above criteria, explaining of course what each one was for, and the scores above represent his overall feeling on the game.