Swap Force is quite refreshing!!!! It has just enough "old" to make it familiar and lots of new to make it exciting again! It doesn't matter if you are new to the franchise or an old fan, a young child or a parent playing along, you will enjoy SWAP FORCE!! I LOVE THE WAY THEY HAVE THEIR CAMERAS ANGLED FOR BATTLES, ESPECIALLY IN 2 PLAYER STORY MODE(THIS GAME IS A MAX OF 2 PLAYERS). You can see the "big" picture (it's not a split screen view) and so you don't hurt your partners in battle because you can see where they are.. Divide and Conquer!;)
OLD vs NEW:
The graphics are more colorful and some of the characters do have a little bit of a "cartoonish" appearance and the lip syncing to words is off(not a deal breaker, read the words you won't notice). For instance, the Chompies are back but their eyes are longer which makes them a little more silly looking. Don't let that deceive you into thinking that this game is a breeze. It has the ability to adjust the level of difficulty like it did in GIANTS. From Easy, to Nightmare Mode it has something to offer everyone. It still has hats, treasure chests, puzzles, Kaos and Glumshanks, Flynn, ability to buy upgrades, quests, battles, two players in story mode, and the same camera angles to attack from. You can use ALL of your older Skylander figures and in fact, if you are new to the franchise, make sure to buy a Giant if you enjoy being able to complete everything. I am early into the game and the first and second levels have an area where you need a giant to unlock a treasure chest worth coins. So it is not mandatory to have a giant, but don't put them away if you already have them. The narrator reads the words on the screen, so a younger child could play it alone or you can play with the sound down.
Ability to Swap the top/bottom half of the figures among the "swap-able" figures. The swap-able figures are well made with 2 little strong magnets that hold them together. Easy to swap, but don't fall apart in storage. It's the perfect balance of strength and function. The actual size of the swap-able figures is about the size of some of the Giants(Eye-Brawl), but in game they are not giant. All figures can jump now, even the older ones! This gives it a totally different feel. Now you can jump over enemies that are charging to attack you and get them from behind. There are tree slides that are a lot of fun to zip along and the movable stones have faces and groan when you jump on them..LOL The main community you are saving are fox people now and Flynn's ship has wrecked near their home so the basic home base is different.
HOW MANY ARE OUT AND WHAT DO YOU NEED?
There are 16 of the swap-able figures available(eventually), two within each of the 8 elements and two each within the eight that have different abilities. The abilities are listed within the gold symbols at the base of the characters. These include; Bounce, Climb, Dig, Rocket, Sneak, Speed, Spin, and Teleport. There are two different types of ways the Swap-able figures complete the game. There are gates that require two elements to unlock so you would need a water top half with a fire bottom half to open it, for example or in two player mode you would just need both elements. Then there are specific ability challenges for each of the eight abilities that only the swap-able figures can do. The nice thing about this game is when you buy an upgrade, each half is bought separately. It's like there are two "brains" in each swap-able figure. So,when you mix the legs of one figure with another all the upgrades bought for those legs go with it to the next creation. It is the same for the top halves too. The Starter pack comes with Wash Buckler(Water Element, Climb Ability) and Blast Zone(Fire Element, Rocket Ability) that are swap-able and Ninja Stealth Elf(Life Element, Series 3). There are 19 reposes from either of the older versions of the franchise to buy and 21 new characters, but five of the 21 are duplicated in a Lightcore version too. The minimum requirement to complete the game would be the other 5 elements (new or old) and a Giant. That is.. unless you feel the need to include the SWAP FORCE ONLY CHALLENGES which would mean the other SIX ABILITIES(BOUNCE, DIG, SPEED, SNEAK, SPIN, AND TELEPORT)OF THE SWAP FORCE CHARACTERS A FIGURE WITH AT LEAST ONE OF EACH OF THE EIGHT ELEMENTS (ROCK, ETC)AND A GIANT. THEIR ABILITIES ARE THE GOLD SYMBOLS ON THEIR BASES AND ARE UNRELATED TO THEIR ELEMENT! ROCKET AND CLIMB ABILITIES CAME WITH ALL STARTER PACKS(EXCEPT NINTENDO 3DS) WITH BLAST ZONE AND WASH BUCKLER. Don't write off some of the new characters. I am really impressed with the battle action and creativity of the newer figures that aren't swap-able. Don't forget your friends can come over with their characters and unlock a challenge for you or you can try before you buy in a sense. If you purchase all 16 of the Swap-able figures there are over 250 "new" Skylanders to play with, so you are only limited by your imagination and your pocket book. The figure numbers above are not including the Legendary and Variant/Alt Deco color schemes. This info is for the basic game systems, any brand, EXCEPT THE 3DS Version(it has Free Ranger(Magic Element, Spin Ability) and Rattle Shake(Undead Element, Bounce Ability) that are swap-able and Volcanic Eruptor(Series 3, Fire Element)!!!
SOME GAME DETAILS:
There are 17 Levels with this game to complete along with Battle Arenas that can be played in Solo, Team, and Battles against your friend next to you. If your game system has the ability to connect online there is a bonus upgrade every day, like 5+ Speed for the day, for instance. Every day from 3-6 PM a Rainbow Bridge appears in the "Yard" that will have a Story Scroll, Enchanted Pool and a Treasure Chest at the top. The scenery will also go from night to day based on the time on your machine. If you have friends data put into the Wii U it will compare your scores to your friends. You now have to pay for all the increases from your Legendary Treasures, you only unlock them by finding them. So make sure you acquire all the money you can from barrels etc. There is an easier way to gain money.. TRY PUTTING THE SKY GEM(FROM THE ADVENTURE PACK)IN THE AREA WITH THE PRACTICE BATTLE DUMMIES(THE YARD) AND ATTACK AWAY!!! WOW, WHAT A TRICK!!
SWAP ZONE GATES AND ABILITY CHALLENGES:
There are 8 Swap Zone Element Challenges that can be done. They can only be completed by someone(or half of someone with that Element) and in two player mode the other element can be completed with a the other element in a second figure. There are also the 8 Ability Challenges for the swap force figures that have a bouncing symbols(for example) on their plate at the bottom of their feet. Only 2 SWAP ZONE figures will be able to do each of these(bounce, for instance). See above for more detail. You can put a non-bouncing figures head on top of bouncing legs and still do the challenges, but that would be the only way for that figure to complete it.
BONUS MISSIONS LINKED TO DIFFICULTY:
There are 20 bonus missions now that are quite hard and can be done once your figures are well upgraded. These increase time fighting based on your chosen difficulty level. In the first bonus mission named "Treble Theft" the fighting would last for: Easy & Medium 6 min., Hard 8:05 min., and Nightmare Mode would last for 15:00 min!
You can adjust the volume of each component of the game with this one! I can't believe it, but it is a very handy feature. Go to Pause, Options, Audio and you can adjust the Music, Voice, Effects and Cut Scene Volume individually! It came in quite handy for a few of the sounds.
INFO REGARDING PORTAL:
The portal is totally different, which is why there are only Starter packs with this game. It lights up and it plugs into the actual game system(not a wall adapter). (FYI..I was able to use my other game's portal extension cable with it to add on length. Evidently Amazon makes one too for less.) The Swap Force cable is MUCH LONGER anyway (Thank You!!) than the other cable. Swap Force's cable is over 6 1/2 feet long (I am guessing 7 ft. My tape measure ran out.)!!!!
NOTE TO ACTIVISON> Please make a portal that is Bluetooth so I don't have a 7 seven ft cable across my floor for others to trip over. One where either rechargeable batteries can be used or where it would have it's own AC plug in (not into the machine) with Bluetooth so it won't have to drape across the floor. This would make everyone happy. THANKS!
ADDITIONAL PURCHASE ADDS AN ADDITIONAL LEVEL TO THE GAME..
These increase the number of levels within a game available to play and the "Tower of Time" Adventure Pack that is available for purchase at the launch of Swap Force. It comes with the Tower (which adds the playable level), a battle hammer that assists you in "smashing" the bad guys and a Sky Diamond that gives you 20 coins along with Pop Thorn (which isn't swap-able, but is a new figure and is awesome and funny by the way)who belongs to the air element. The Sky Diamond gives you 20 coins for every enemy that falls for a short period of time(maybe a min.) Be sure to put the Sky Diamond in the "YARD" by the practice dummies for an extra bonus. IT BLEW OUR SOCKS OFF! There will be a total of two of these packs released.."Sheep Wreck Islands" is the name of the next.
ADDITIONAL PURCHASE ADDS AN ADDITIONAL BATTLE ARENA TO THE GAME...
FIERY FORGE (available at launch) This gives an additional battle arena to play in against your friends. It includes the figures Bumble Blast(life element) and Knockout Terrafin(earth element) along with the fiery forge which is a magic item that pours hot molten lava on your foes(similar to a volcanic eruption by Eruptor). The next pack will be called "Arkeyan Crossbow."
You can use your Pro Controller, Old Wii Classic with Nunchuck, or Wii remotes with Nunchucks(with or without Motion)Style.
DEBATING ON AN UPGRADE TO A WII U?
The Classic Wii version has some differences that the other game systems won't have like the quality of the graphics has been disappointing for some. Evidently the file was really big and they had to change two of the levels within the game. I haven't figured out all of the differences yet, but the Brady Games Guide makes reference to the Treasure Chest being on the left of the screen instead of the right sometimes etc. If you are debating about whether to upgrade to the Wii U or not.. UPGRADE NOW! GameStop has a picture in their Black Friday ad that will be a special edition(THE WHITE WII U) that will have what appears to be a "Stone" variant of Wash Buckler along with the SWAP FORCE STARTER PACK INCLUDED FOR $299 and a $25 GIFT CARD TO GAMESTOP ALSO. I imagine that this starter pack will NOT be exclusive to them since it doesn't seem to say it is(unlike the Dark Version Starter of Swap Force). I bet Amazon will be a great place to find one of these too! Since it isn't a Launch year these will probably be readily available compared to the others and the cost of this starter pack alone knocks quite a bit of the cost off. It is an amazing machine and the Gamepad is a really nice option to use without the TV necessarily for gameplay. You get to use ALL the old Very Reasonably priced Classic Wii games on it UNLIKE the competition. You can buy used remotes and used balance boards for a great price if you need to. It's here to stay for a while any way and won't break the bank as much either.
WALMART STARTER COUPONS:
Includes coupons for $10.00 off a $20 Mega Bloks Giants purchase, $5.00 off an $8 dollar Mega Bloks Giants purchase, $3.00 off a Skylanders Game called Island Quest and $5.00 off a Swap Force Accessory priced $14.96 or more. All Expire 2/28/14
ON A BUDGET:
Buy a Swap Force Figure in Each Ability and the newer figures. I find myself really liking the new figures this time! Use your Series 2, or 1, versions of Figures to complete your force. The best Lightcore as far as actually lighting up is Smolderdash(at least at Launch, and she's still pretty dark), but there isn't really improvement in this area. They still have the initial ability to wipe out your foes when they are initially placed on the portal, but this is a one time event. Try them out on the portal in the store before you buy so you can save a few bucks. If you aren't worried about completing all the specific Swap force challenges just buy a couple of Swap-able figures(with some the other 6 Abilities you don't have) and some of the new regular one's. You will have just enough new and be effectively recycling your older ones. ;)
DARK STARTER PACK:
Available now at a common gaming store for $99.00. There will be a sale on Black Friday there too for $25.00 off that price if you are willing to wait. It will ONLY be for the Classic Wii version, NONE OF OTHER GAMING SYSTEMS(including the Wii U) will be on sale. It comes with two additional figures that the basic Starter Pack Doesn't have:Dark Mega Ram Spyro(Magic Element) and Dark Slobber Tooth(Earth Element)the other characters it comes with are the same as the basic starter but they are colored black and silver both on the figure and within the game. They are unable to be purchased otherwise(at least this year).
ALT DECO FIGURES:
Enchanted Hoot Loop(Walmart Exclusive) and Enchanted Star Strike Lightcore, possibly Walmart(both change color in daylight), Nitro Magna Charge(Yellow Target Exclusive) and Nitro Freeze Blade, possibly Target Exclusive, and Dark Blast Zone, Dark Ninja Stealth Elf, Dark Slobber Tooth, Dark Mega Ram Spyro, and Dark Wash Buckler Exclusive to Gamestop Starter Pack. I have seen the name of a "Jade Figure(Fire Kracken?" and a "Jolly Figure(Bumble Blast?)" but don't know any details at this point.
BUYING A GIFT:
The good news is the any of the figures, even the old ones will still be playable with the new game! If you want to get them something newer look for "Swap Force" under the Skylanders title. If you don't know the difference in the swap-able figures look for the spin wheel at the top left corner of the box. If you see one of those, it is a swap-able figure. They also cost more. Try to buy a swap-able element other than fire and water when in doubt of what they have.