Christmas is just round the corner and I’m sure you parents will be racking your brains trying to think of what to get your child. Well, your prayers have been answered with the latest entry in the Skylanders franchise, Skylanders: Trap Team. This time, Trap Team comes in two varieties providing two different experiences. On the Nintendo 3DS, developer Toys For Bob and publishers Activision have made a completely new game in comparison to its console brethren although it does succeed in fitting a similar experience on Nintendo’s little dual screen powerhouse. Does the scaled down version provide as much fun as the console versions? Is it worth your hard earned cash?
The 3DS version of Skylanders: Trap Team has a full-fledged new plotline which surprisingly and impressively never felt like a tacked on side story. Instead of rounding up villains that Kaos has freed from Cloudcracker Prison like you do in the console versions, the 3DS version sees players hunting down the nightmares that Hugo, Master Eon’s assistant, accidentally released after reading ‘The Most Boring Book Ever’. The head honcho of these is Dream Sheep who has put the world’s inhabitants to sleep and it’s your job as portal master to wake everyone up and put down Dream Sheep. It’s a story that is a world away from the console version but that is what makes the 3DS version so special. It’s a big risk to take as most spins offs tend to flop, Trap Team however doesn’t as it keeps all the wit and charm that the franchise is renowned for. I never lost track of my objective and the voice acting really shone throughout the entire campaign.
This version also differs game-play wise. Typical platforming action mixed with light exploration but the abilities that you will need to master to succeed is double jumping and sprinting, oh yeah, and attacking. The starter pack comes with two Skylanders aside from the wireless portal, Gusto, a blubbery water type Trap Master who brandishes a giant boomerang and Barkley who is a new mini Skylander which are just weaker smaller varieties of past Skylanders, the portal however has a different use. Instead of having your Skylander placed on the portal all the time in order to play as whoever you choose, on the 3DS you only have to place your Skylander on the portal once for the game to scan it into the game. It is then available for you to choose and play as whenever you need it so no need to worry about carrying that hefty portal around with you. Another difference between the handheld and console versions is that the portal on the 3DS has no use for the Traptanium Trap toys which is used to contain the villains in the console versions so money saved. The villains work differently here, once you trap a villain character, you can only use them to assist you using a special attack unique to that character which is a bummer for those hoping to control and play as the villain like the console version boasts about, at least in the main campaign anyway. You can play as trapped villains in the Villain Boot Comp though. Here you complete a series of challenge rooms varied between stealth and limited abilities and more, it’s certainly the most interesting and fun part of the game as the story consists of samey mundane jumping levels. The controls are awkward using the circle pad especially when using the 3D slider due to the nature of the levels. It’s too easy to misjudge jumps or sprinting too far resulting, more often than enough, in accidental deaths. The new characters themselves are nicely varied spanning the different elements found in previous games such as water, fire, air and so forth. Trap Master characters can certainly hold their own against the biggest and baddest enemies, they are seriously overpowered which may appeal to children who just want to plod through at their leisure but for more advanced gamers, this makes thing a little too easy.
One unique brilliant feature found here is the use of the StreetPass feature which enables you to try out any of another person’s Skylander for a level. This preview feature makes it easier deciding on which Skylander to buy next by simply testing out one of your friends’. Visually, Trap Team on the 3DS is bright an colourful as is its console brother although jagged around the edges. With the slider ramped up, it looks great as the Skylanders themselves gets a new ounce of depth and the levels look nice and bright, no complaints here.
The newest portable entry in the Skylanders series isn’t the best but offers some cool new features that will certainly appeal to fans such as the great StreetPass function and the lack of need for the portal. The game itself however has some issues relating to the mediocre level design and clunky controls. The good thing is only advanced gamers will see the bad signs so parent, feel free to fork out.
Graphics - 4/5
Game-play - 2/5
Story - 4/5
Overall - 3/5
Version reviewed - 3DS