Skylanders Trap Team expands well with the latest addition of trapping enemies to use as playable characters. This easily could have been a convoluted system, but fortunately it’s quite simple and easy to enjoy in game. No one enemy is confined permanently to a trap (Kaos aside), so for gamers concerned about full trap key sets, worry not. You can enjoy the games content with just one of each element.
Why do I bring this up first? Trap Team has a lot to offer and it’s always intimidating when you’re trying to figure out just how much the base game will cost. After all, buying additional figures comes later when you get eager throughout the year to add more to your collection even though your promised yourself you wouldn’t. It’s that initial step that is always difficult.
So you’ve decided to take the plunge. The new Traptanium Portal, the physical device that you place your Skylanders onto to get them into the game, now has a slot for trap keys in the front. This also works as a speaker for the monster trapped within the trap key. Throughout the game this is used well. The audio from the portal to the tv and the gradual progression as your enemy character is sent in sells the effect well. It’s not a bad tinny sound, it’s of quite decent quality.
In game, it seems any Skylander can capture enemies. Your Trap Team members (or Trap Masters) open the elemental gates this time around to collect new hats and treasure, as well as breaking Traptanium crystals that stand in your way. The game comes with Snap Shot, a Trap Master of the water element.
The Trap Masters themselves in general are powerful characters. Wallop, an earth element, is especially ridiculously powerful, being able to level up to a frenzy mode that just has him unleash a hyper pounding hammer attack. We also decided on Krypt King, an undead knight that kind of looks like he’d be from the same race as Chop Chop.
You’ll be tempted to just play as Trap Masters, since they are such strong characters. However it’s more worthwhile to mix in some of your older, less used Skylanders as the game progresses. In the regular game, and especially the new tower defense mode discussed later, you’ll find it rather easy to level up your collection.
Finally into the game, because lets face it, the figures are worth talking about since that is half the experience. A place known as Cloudcracker Prison has been attacked by Kaos, freeing those contained within. As evil as Kaos is, some of these villains can overshadow his cunning. The story is quite well done and keeps things interesting, which is important and good to see the series quality staying strong. Some of these are the foes you can trap.
Throughout the game you’ll encounter battles with these foes. Some are rather easy mini boss fights. Others are full out boss battles at the end of levels. Upon defeating your foe, you have the option to capture them as long as you have the right trap key of the matching element.
Level design can feel a bit tighter at times, yet still quality stages. Though you’ll still reach the end and wonder how you missed legendary items. There still is that replay value here and you can easily select a chapter to go back to. Soul stones still are scattered among the world, and you’ll need them this time to watch the corresponding characters promo video. I don’t think previous games needed that, I think you could just watch the videos in the collection screen. Everything still looks beautiful and as usual there’s lots to break for more treasure to buy additional skills.
There is additional content here for all of your Skylanders to play in. Arena battles make a return, but also joining the mix are things like the Kaos Doom Challenge. I have to admit, the Kaos Challenge is an excellent way to add additional content and enjoyment to the series. It’s a loose tower defense game, loose in the fact that you do have to participate with your Skylanders quite heavily. Towers upgrade upon successful completion of a wave, up to tier three I believe. They also produce treasure upon wave completion, and in general this is probably one of the fastest ways to get your gold up quickly. All of this is to stop enemies from reaching a locked box. If it’s broken open by your foes, a random boss enemy (which seems to just be a larger version with a crown of certain baddies) comes out. So even upon the box breaking, you aren’t defeated. It is a tough mode to try and keep up with however and it helps to have an army of Skylanders ready just in case.
Also joining the series is a rhythm game mode. You’ll unlock different characters to challenge to what basically amounts to a PaRappa the Rapper style battle. Keeping up your multiplier and playing in harder difficulties nets you more gold. All of the songs are good, but I found the first one to be the best. Quite honestly, it endeared me to Arbo to want to see more of him in the games. The songs aren’t incredibly detailed or anything, but interestingly these work with all Skylanders and trapped villains by taking various catch phrases they have and making them into responses. So the character you’re challenging says a line, and as you press the corresponding buttons requested, your Skylander will say a specific catch phrase you’ve probably heard them use before. It sounds basic, but it surprisingly works quite well! The mode itself isn’t the most replayable mode, and the gold it gives you isn’t incredible, but odds are you’ll find yourself enjoying it and using it to nab that last bit of gold for an upgrade occasionally.
I realize this is technically a kids game, but I do think some consideration needs to be put in eventually for expanding gimicks to keep older gamers interested. Don’t get me wrong, I’m an adult who had a ton of fun with this title. The issue for me is the backward compatibility being so bare bones. Yes, adding more moves and such to previous Skylanders is a deep task, but this is still Skylanders. We’re not talking about a small title here. Rightfully so they put a focus on the newer Skylanders in this one. Which is good, and a non-numbered series makes it feel less intimidating to jump in at any time.
If nothing else, the series could do with bringing back the character specific minigames. Sure, asking for backward compatibility on that is just unrealistic, but the newer characters could certainly use it. I would have spent a lot more money on both Swap Force and Trap Team if each character came with those quirky levels of the first two games that Kali gave players to take on. Bring back Heroic Challenges. Even if they don’t add more skill points anymore, it’s still a way to get gamers more excited about getting new characters. There are at least five Swap Force Skylanders I would have purchased, if not more, but I held back because of the lack of Heroic Challenges.
Things like this will keep all of us playing more. There’s already mystery in Trap Team which is good! But I’m hoping new content will be added when the surprises are revealed. Sure it’s great to have new Skylanders to play as, but give us just that little added incentive. Imagine how excited gamers would be to play character specific story missions that expand on what we’ve learned of them. Star studded voice acting isn’t even needed. Not that the game doesn’t excel at it’s cast. Just small extras would add so much to the game and give gamers so much more reason to keep playing after the credits.
All the above said, Skylanders Trap Team is a worthwhile experience that takes MANY hours to complete. I can’t recall the exact time but I think it was upwards of 29 hours, which includes some playing around in the arena which makes a return and the tower defense mode. It’s a worthwhile adventure. Just the only thing holding it back from being perfect still is taking away the little things that made the first two so exciting per character. We need more to do so that our collection is worth something even more. Sure we can play as our favorites but it would be good to give current generation Skylanders some extra life the series.
I apologize for the basic images. It was unfortunately difficult to find gameplay screens online, which is a shame since the actual gameplay does look great!