A solid experience hampered by technical flaws and a lack of ingenuity.
Last year’s Skylanders title on 3DS was a little bit under the radar compared to the home console version. However, the Vicarious Visions-developed title was unique, offering a gameplay style and story different from that of its counterpart. The game was more in line with an old Spyro game, featuring a Super Mario 64-like structure and lots of fun 3D platforming. Skylanders Giants on 3DS, developed by n-Space, eschews the direct Spyro name as well as some of the Spyro-like structure. Instead of acting as a separate, fulfilling experience, Giants on 3DS feels like a side story to the home console version.
The structure of the game is similar to that of the home console version. Both games have an almost identical airship hub world, but that of the 3DS has less available to do. They both also have chapters that task you with earning three stars: one for basic completion, one for a time trial, and one for bonus collectables. This comes in contrast to last year’s 3DS game, which offered individual crystals for each mission objective that would unlock new levels, much like stars did in Super Mario 64. With this less inspired parity, Giants comes across as an imitation of the console version.
Fortunately, the great 3D platforming gameplay is still present. Each character has multiple attacks that upgrade as they gain levels, and unlike the home console version, they can jump. Compared to last year’s game, Giants seems more combat heavy, making it more in line with the console versions than last year’s 3DS outing.
The game is still engaging, though, with varied worlds and landscapes punctuated by quality music and sound design. Woefully, the quality is hidden behind some terrible compression that makes the sound crackle in displeasing ways. The graphics, while nice in 3D, suffer from slowdown at times, making some of the fast-paced segments tough to go through. In a game that features time trials, having the game chug when too many enemies are on screen or you move too fast is horrendous.
If you’re invested in Skylanders already, the 3DS version of Giants is still worth getting. It’s yet another fun adventure for you and your figures. I’d highly recommend you check out the previous 3DS game or the versions of the game on consoles if you’re just getting into the series, though. Skylanders Giants is fun, but a lack of originality and some technical issues make this 3DS game weaker.