(Editor’s Note: Christine and I are admittedly ignorant when it comes to these types of games. She asked the boys if they were playing Spyro, her quite dated reference since her only experience with that particular game is the original PS1 game, when she saw the game. I’m slightly more with it, but only barely. Keep all of that in mind as you read the article since ignorance has never stopped me from commenting on something.)
The boys were introduced to this new genre of games by friends. I believe it all started with Skylanders, but I’m not positive. That series is the first that I ever remember hearing about and certainly the most popular. However, never ones to be left out, Disney and now Lego have jumped into the huge pile of cash waiting to be made from this. I don’t even know what to call the games. Officially they are part role-playing, part action adventure, part weird immersive technology that let’s you play with your action figures in the game.
I have to admit that, in addition to being ignorant, I was also skeptical about these games. The past of video games, and our own home, is littered with the remains of previous attempts at changing the dynamics of video games. Sure, they’ve made them more varied, added pressure sensitive controls, and offered other advancements. At the end of the day, though, almost all controllers are simply a fancier version of the old arcade joystick. Only Nintendo, generally willing to think outside the proverbial box at the risk of alienating a large portion of the audience, has been able to successfully push the limits of what causes Mario to run across the screen and jump on enemies. Anyone else have a busted or working Kinect just sitting around collecting dust?
Nevertheless, the boys seemed excited about the games. Therefore, when I saw one of the starter sets at Wal*Mart on clearance, I bought it. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. In terms of another cliche, nothing really to lose, either. I thought the game was only a battle arena game and that they’d tire soon of playing it and that it would join the Kinect and Balance board in the purgatory for expired and forgotten electronics.
Unlike the Kinect, I’m glad that I made the purchase. As soon as the boys loaded up the game, they started up an adventure mode game with a decent story and pretty good voice acting. I was surprised when I heard Patrick Warburton of Seinfeld and The Tick fame. Watching them has me interested and I want to play. Liam even suggested that we do a play through to try to get more content for our Youtube page. Be on the lookout for that, hopefully soon.
Shortly after getting the game, they traded with their friends to get more figures. Because, of course, the game requires different “types” to unlock certain levels. I’m sure that they hope that ignorant parents will simply buy the characters to keep their little angels quiet, but we got lucky and the boys were able to borrow the figures needed.
More recently, they pooled their allowance money to buy a 3-figure set, which I suppose is an extension of the clueless parent phenomenon. However, since they earned the money, they made more of an effort to get a better deal. The figures were already discounted because they were at Marshalls. Still, the boys chose the 3 pack for 9.99 and took an extra figure that they didn’t want instead of buying the two figures they wanted at 4.99 each since both characters were in the 3 pack. It made me proud as a dad and a cheap gamer.
So, Skylanders turned out to be a good purchase. My cousin and his family have tried the Disney version, but I haven’t asked him if he likes it. I can’t see that it would be as fun or engaging to our boys as Skylanders. They like Disney, but given the choice, I’m almost positive that they’d want Lego dimensions instead.
A commercial for the Lego version appeared in my Facebook feed several months ago. Everyone laughed at the Batarang joke at the end. If you don’t know that one, either watch the video or you can listen to my impressions of it in one of the “What have you been gaming” segments of the 2 Guys Gaming podcast. After watching the trailer a couple of times, we more or less forgot about the game until I recently saw that they have a “Back to the Future” set with a hoverboard. I mentioned the game to Christine and she responded with, “They’d probably like that.” In a monumental show of restraint, I haven’t yet gone out to buy it, but I keep looking at it and hoping for a price drop.
So, Skylanders hooked them and they’ve figured out a way to save money even as they build a collection. I don’t think Disney has enough to make it worth the investment. Lego, however, are always a big hit in the house. Lego games, too. If I can find a good deal on the starter kit for that one, I will probably pick it up in the hopes that it represents the best of both worlds.
Pretty funny that I still do this, since nobody ever responds. But, there’s always a first time, so here goes. Have you tried Disney Infinity? Lego Dimensions? Are either of the games as much fun as Skylanders? Either email, Tweet us, or leave your comments below.