Taking a look at what’s to come in Activision’s Skylanders Imaginators at E3 2016, there’s a lot for fans to get excited about. Crash Bandicoot is joining in the fun. Popular villain characters are both playable and getting their own toys. Plus, for the first time, players can create and customize their own digital Skylander. What’s it like crafting the next generation of Skylanders? Dan Neil from developer Toys For Bob gives some insight.
As mentioned during the E3 presentation, the inspiration for Skylanders Imaginators has been the creativity of the kids and fans who share their unique designs with you through fan art, etc. What’s been the most rewarding part, so far, of developing something so different from the previous iterations of Skylanders?
“I think the most rewarding part so far is the reaction of the kids that we’ve had come to Activision, and to Toys For Bob, to see the game and to help us develop it, and to help us refine the features. They’re really excited by the opportunity to also be creative inside Skylanders and to be able to make their own Skylander. But, the biggest pleasure is going to come once the game has been released, and we see what kids all around the world have been creating.”
In terms of development, how has it been different making this game when compared to other Skylanders titles like Trap Team or Swap Force?
“Well, the character creation system within Skylanders Imaginators is extremely big. It has many, many features and it requires lots of content that we have to build. So, it’s been a lot of work putting that together. At the same time, as we’re making a whole, entire video game story mode, and creating 32 new playable Sensei toys as well, it’s just a really big game — the biggest game we’ve ever made. That’s the main difference: the scope and the ambition of the game.”
For parents who may be concerned about the number of toys there are — for example, Trap Team had so many different pieces with all the characters and traps there were to collect — is Imaginators going to be less intensive in terms of the number of pieces you have to carry and keep track of to enjoy the game?
“Yeah, if you’ve seen the Creation Crystal, that’s the new toy type that we are introducing to allow kids to build a Skylander. And, on a Creation Crystal, you can change your Imaginator as you play the game. As you play the game, you unlock more pieces and you unlock new ways to make your Imaginator unique. So, there’s a lot of playtime with a Creation Crystal. You can change your character as you see fit.
“I think different players will engage in the game in different ways. Some players will make one or two Imaginators. Some might want to make more. Some might want to play as the Senseis or the villains. Many will definitely want to play as Crash Bandicoot.”
How does Crash Bandicoot fit in to all of this? All of a sudden, he arrives on the scene. Does he fit into the story somehow?
“So, it’s the 20th anniversary of Crash Bandicoot. It seemed like a great opportunity to bring this classic video gaming character to the next young generation of video gamers. And we think bringing Crash to Skylanders as a cool toy and a completely authentic Crash Bandicoot gameplay experience inside of Skylanders was an exciting way to introduce him to new players.”
What about some of the characters from the previous team-up with Nintendo in SuperChargers? Are the Bowser and Donkey Kong amiibo Skylanders still going to work in Imaginators on the Wii U and 3DS platforms?
“They are. We support all Skylanders from all previous Skylanders games, which is over 300 playable characters at this point. We also support the vehicles from SuperChargers. And, the SuperChargers race tracks are actually included inside of Skylanders Imaginators. So, if you do have vehicles from Skylanders SuperChargers, you can use them with Imaginators to race on those tracks. But, you can also race on those tracks with a digital vehicle, so you don’t even need a [physical] vehicle to enjoy racing in Imaginators.”
What about the traps from Trap Team? Are those going to play a role in Imaginators?
In closing, regarding the future for Skylanders as a franchise, Imaginators is opening up a lot of combinations and possibilities. Is Imaginators going to be a long-term, new platform perhaps? Or can fans still expect more yearly releases?
“We’re just focusing on our release this fall at the moment.”
“There’s a lot of exciting things happening in the world of Skylanders. We have Battlecast, the collectible card game on mobile, we have Imaginators on consoles, and [at E3] we just announced the television show Skylanders Academy.”
[Photo by Asma M.]