This Sunday, Activision will release the long-awaited sequel to its popular Skylanders, a multi-platform adventure game that actually lets you interact with toys by playing them on a special portal, which plugs into your game system. Skylanders Giants introduces a great new world to explore, along with a series of new characters, small and large, to try out. We've played a great deal of the game already, and it's a lot of fun.
However, some of you might be a bit confused on what to expect, or whether you need to buy the equipment again for the sequel. Don't worry, we've got a step-by-step beginner's guide that tells you everything you need to know, so that you'll be prepared to play the game when it releases in a couple of days.
And while you're at it, make sure to check out our guide that talks about some of the new characters in the game, which you can find here.
On the Need for New Equipment
If you already own the portal accessory and figures that were released with the original Skylanders last year, we've got great news. All of these accessories and figurines work perfectly with Giants – even the wireless ones for PS3 and Nintendo Wii. Furthermore, the new Level 2 figures, including the light-up Giants figures, also work with these portals with no problem. If you already own this equipment, you can purchase the game by itself, which sells for $59.99.
If you don't already own the equipment, however, or you're getting the Wii U version (which didn't get the original Skylanders), the Skylanders Giants Starter Pack is the place to go. Selling for $74.99 across the board (including on 3DS), this package comes with a retail copy of the game, a portal to plug into your game system via USB (it's wired this year, compared to last year's wireless portals for Wii and PS3) and three figures – a Level 2 Cynder (who was in the original game), the new wind cannon-carrying Jet Vac, and a Giant figure, Tree Rex.
This is a great Starter Pack, as it not only gives you a variety of characters to start the game with (featuring different classes of elements, on which all Skylanders are based), but also lets you try out the Giants.
Syncing Up Your Portal
Since all Skylanders Giants portals are wired, it's relatively easy to sync up the portal. Simply plug it in to your system and start up the game. You'll know that the portal is good to go, as it'll light up without the need for additional batteries.
How the Game Works
Bottom line, you can't play Skylanders Giants without a Skylander on the portal. That's because the purpose of the game is to interact with your toys, or in this case, figurines that sit firmly on the top. The Starter Pack automatically comes with three, so you should have no problem getting started here.
When prompted – which is usually at the beginning of the game – you'll be asked to place the character on the portal. Make your choice then place them anywhere in the designated portal area. The character should then appear on the game screen, ready to fight.
Now, here's the thing – you can take Skylanders off the portal anytime during play, simply by grabbing and removing them. You don't have to worry about your progress being lost or the game resetting. It merely goes back to the selection screen, asking you to place a Skylander on the portal. The cool thing about Giants is that you're encouraged to try out as many characters as possible.
In fact, during some points of the game, you're actually better off switching to a certain class of Skylander. There are some bonus sections in a stage where only a certain type, like a Tech or an Undead Skylander, can get through. Simply find one that matches the class (you can usually tell from the description on the package, or with the included card), place them on the portal, and the area opens up.
Which Skylanders You Can Use
As stated above, Skylanders Giants works with all Level 1 figures from last year's release. What's more, you can level them up a few more stages over the first game, with your progress firmly kept track of. However, the Level 2 characters are better suited for a game such as this, as you can level them further.
You can designate the difference between Level 1 and Level 2 figures simply by looking on the bottom. Level 1's are designated with lime green on the bottom; Level 2's are orange. (NOTE: Level 2 figurines will NOT work with the original Skylanders game.)
Figures usually go for $6.99 a pop, though, with the way they light up when touching the portal, Giants figures will probably be more, around the $9.99 or more area. Some will be sold in three packs, though Activision has yet to confirm when they'll be available. We're guessing sometime before the holidays.
Don't Be Afraid To Bring a Friend
Finally, Skylanders Giants can be enjoyed with a solo player, but it's when you bring someone along that things get interesting.
The campaign supports two-player co-op, and with the portal's size, you can put two figurines, even Giants, on there at once. Then both characters appear in the game, with each one making their selection. Don't be afraid to wander around and look for gems, but just remember to keep an eye on your buddy – they may be getting ambushed by enemies!
One other note – you'll need two Skylanders, and two players, to take advantage of the new multiplayer Arena. Here, your characters battle it out in "friendly" combat in various battlefields. It's fun for all ages, so don't be afraid to get the kids involved. (We only wish it supported four players – but maybe that's something Activision can plan for next year's game.)
You're All Set!
That's about it for our beginner's guide. Remember, you can use older Skylanders equipment with no problem, and setting up your game is a simple matter of plug, place and play. Enjoy!
Skylanders Giants hits stores on October 21st for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii and Nintendo 3DS, and will come out alongside the Wii U on the system's launch day, November 18th.