My seven year old son approached me tonight, out of nowhere really, and said, "Dad, we need to get some more Skylanders Giants figures." We hadn't been talking about, he hadn't been playing the game - it literally just came from out of the blue. And while I thought his idea was a good one, I had to explain that we have all of them that are available to buy in stores, and that the ones we don't have just haven't been released yet.
It's a tough concept for kids to understand, why they would not release them all when the game came out, but for me, I understand. By holding out figures to release them a few at a time, in "waves," makes a lot of business sense. Your customer fanbase builds the hype and hysteria on its own, until people start fighting and throwing elbows in stores as they grab the newest figures off the shelves.
It's like Black Friday several times a year, every time a new wave is released. And that's why the franchise has made more than $500 million since the franchise began less than a year and half ago.
It's also why Disney is making their own, similar game called Disney Infinity, with well-known and recognizable characters and worlds. Even if they don't topple the kind of the mountain, there is certainly money to be made in the "video game + toys" genre.
So instead of buying any new figures tonight, we decided to play come co-op together. We both picked out a Giant and one character from each elemental class, sat down and dove into the story that he has been chipping away at. At this point, we have way too many characters to pull them all off the shelf, so this method is the least disastrous, especially with his four year old little sister looming around, wanting to snag and run off with every pink, purple or cartoonish figurine.
For being a "kids game," I'm not going to lie - it is pretty challenging. The frustration level also rises when two players of significant gaming experience play co-op, as was the case tonight. It's his game, his save file, so I let him lead me through the game, but when it came down to timing-based puzzle solving, I had to take the reigns. And that was tougher than I thought, to the point where Mom had to yell from the kitchen for me to take it easy, since it's just the game. It's not like I was getting upset at him, but rather the mechanics of the game when playing co-op. You see, when one player moves ahead in the map and the other player falls back (or worse, gets stuck in a trap or behind something), the lead player can only go so far before progress is stopped until the straggler makes up ground. When using different Skylanders of different speeds, this makes it challenging as well.
It's something the developers should look into for the next installment, if they want to continue the co-op experience being friendly and inviting for all.
We plowed through, however, and made an awesome team in the long run. I really enjoy playing with him, as his gaming soul is still so young and innocent. My 12 year old is all about Call of Duty, and his gaming habits are already conforming to the FPS online multiplayer types. Not that it's a bad thing, it's just hard for me since those games aren't my cup of tea, as I've explained before.
So anyway, I had fun tonight. It was nice to play a game that isn't super intense, without going after trophies or achievements, and being able to do it with my kids. I spent so much time playing games by myself over the years, especially as a kid, that I'm glad to have company - as long as its my kids.
One day, I'll write up an article about how Skylanders merged my gaming world and my OCD collecting habits, but not tonight. It's still January, and last time I checked, there is still a lot of time left in 2013. For now, I'm just just glad that even with this project, I am still a dad first and a gamer second ... as it should be.
XBLA = The Noyse
PSN = the_noyse
NNID = The Noyse
3DS F.C. = 3007-8109-2329
STEAM = TheNoyse
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Games played for project : 365