PN Review: Skylanders: Trap Team (3DS)
My Skylanders experience had been limited to admiring the toys when walking through the electronics section at Target. So when the opportunity arose to review the latest release from a newbies perspective, I welcomed the chance. Trap Team is a quality game, but how does it measure up for those just jumping into the series?
The fantasy plot is clichéd in many ways, but the goofy enemies help elevate it. The evil Dream Sheep, his bungling sidekick, and minions of nightmare creatures have escaped from the realm of dreams and are wreaking havoc on Skylands. The humor is accentuated through vast amounts of voice acting, something that really impresses! The funny boss characters you face are trapped in prison upon defeat, and can be summoned to fight in your behalf periodically thanks to the mythical power of Traptanium.
One thing I really appreciated as someone new to the series is the portal’s compatibility with figures from past games in the series. I was able to acquire some inexpensive Giants and Swap Force toys, using them to access elemental gates. The toys are high quality, including the bundled characters Trap Master Gusto and Mini Barkely.
Trap Team is a typical 3D platformer in many ways, with lots of traveling about, battling enemies, exploring, and collecting. Villain boot camp levels mix things up with boss specific challenges, but the game still has a traditional feel. Some could find it slightly unambitous and repetitive, but I feel the experience is very enjoyable. The obvious high production values exceeded my expectations.
The main adventure’s replayability depends to some extent on how many toys you have. For me, the desire to keep growing my collection is surprisingly strong. Cost is always a factor though. Thankfully replay value extends beyond just the toys. In fact the setup is tailored towards completionists. There are many stars you can earn in each level through various challenges, and plenty to keep you returning. Levels are designed in such ways where you should anticipate missing things on the initial run. There are also time challenges.
This isn’t a difficult game by any stretch (perhaps even less so for Skylanders veterans) so expect kids to stick with it through to completion. Adults can make the experience more challenging by aiming to get every star, or limiting their character use to one of the weaker toys. It’s very much the sort of game that the whole family can enjoy.
Trap Team looks great on the 3DS! It’s extremely colorful, with imaginatively drawn levels, and a real sense of scope. Though the effects are mild, I played with 3D active through to completion. The soundtrack provides a great complement, with a number of excellent compositions. Like the 3D slider, I kept my volume fully turned up. The audio-visual package reflects great care, and is delightful!
Controls are smooth more often than not. Traditionally handled for the most part, you’ll nevertheless want to keep your stylus handy. It’s useful for things such as trapping bosses or playing Skystones minigames. The gyroscope is used as well, although its implementation is decidedly mixed. While I appreciate the variation attempt, it’s too inconsistent for its own good. Especially in areas with stricter time limits, it can really frustrate to fail through no fault of your own. The gyroscope has fared better in other 3DS games. Thankfully it’s used sparingly.
Other than spotty gyroscopic controls, I only have a few concerns. My copy did freeze up on me, although thankfully just one time. Slowdown can occur as well, albeit not often – the game’s pretty smooth, even in full 3D. My main dilemma (to the extent you can call it one) is that Trap Team feels like it’d be far better suited to a home console. The grandeur of it calls out for a large screen TV! Even the missions (lengthy with no quick save) are more designed for gaming at home rather than on the go.
The 3DS version is unique though, and offers perks of its own. It has a great spot pass feature should you come across someone else with the game. It’s also cheaper than its console brethren. And its trap mechanic, though differing, forgoes the needless additional expense of individual traps.
Had games like this existed when I was a child, I can only imagine how I might have invested in them. Even as an adult, I still feel that collectible draw. Skylanders Trap Team is worth the cost however. Its production values and enjoyment reflect it. Especially in an era where focus keeps shifting towards digital, a fan of physical media like myself can really appreciate plunking down toys on the portal of power. Skylanders: Trap Team is a very good 3DS game, that’s turned me into a series fan.