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Skylanders Trap Team unveiled; Impressions on new characters, portal, and more

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An annual tradition for Skylanders fans is the unveiling of the next game in the wildly popular series. Activision unveiled Skylanders Trap Team in New York City, showcasing the future of the brand and all new innovation youngsters have to look forward to.

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The premise of Skylanders Trap Team is simple; Kaos has hatched another evil plan, aiming to break the biggest, meanest villains out of prison. The prison is made of traptanium, the only thing that can keep all these bad guys locked up. Kaos being Kaos, the whole thing goes awry, with the prison blowing up, all the bad guys being on the loose, and shards of the traptanium being scattered about.

With your own traptanium crystals and the new portal, players will be able to capture the villains and turn them into a force for good. In many ways, it is a reverse version of Skylanders for the bad guys, as you are able to take a character in the game and bring them into your living room. The new portal has a dedicated trap section to insert a crystal when your enemy is at their weakest point. From there, the game will shift into a sequence where the villain is sucked out of the world and transported into your crystal. At that point, the character is yours to use to fight for good, creating a new innovative twist on the game.

One of the coolest parts about this is the seamless transition from game to crystal. The audio in the game will fade out as the character is trapped and begin to shift to the crystal and the new portal. The crystal itself lights up and the character trapped within it keeps speaking to you as you progress in the game. When Activision Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg stated that they were “…bringing life to toys”, he wasn’t kidding around.

Toys For Bob, the original developers of the Skylanders franchise, are at the helm for Trap Team. The Toys For Bob team, led by Paul Reiche, has brought in over 40 trappable villains for kids to capture, while also supporting every Skylander ever released, an impressive feat considering the large amount that have been released for the franchise’s 3 installments so far. In addition, the team has also made Kaos playable for the first time ever, a great treat for long time fans of the series.

Some of the capturable characters we got to see first hand were Chill Bill, who freezes opponents into ice cubes, and Shrednaught, which is a lumberjack tank (think a tank with a large spinning chainsaw) piloted by 2 trolls. Chill Bill, in particular, is a good example of the awesome things that can be done with a click of a button. While using that character, who is inside the trap of the new portal, players can freeze an opponent, switch to the Skylander they have on the portal with one button, and finish off their iced over nemesis.

Hirshberg made it a point to acknowledge that the expectation many have is incremental change and that the goal was to go above and beyond those small steps and enter into a realm of disruptive and perpetual innovation. With Skylanders Trap Team, it definitely looks as though Activision will be flipping both the game and toy industries on their heads. While the stated goal is making kids say, “wow”, there are definitely adults in the audience that were saying the same thing.

Skylanders Trap Team certainly looks impressive, and with Toys For Bob celebrating their 25th anniversary as a studio and Activision increasing the brand awareness year over year with great success, there doesn’t seem to be any slowing down for the franchise.

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