The Ninjabot

Skylanders Giants Wii U Review: Giant Fun with Tiny Figures

Posted on August 9, 2013 at 11:24 am by David "Snackbar" Edmundson


Skylanders Giants is Activision’s follow-up to the insanely popular Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure. The cornerstone of the Skylanders franchise is that you control digital representations of figurines you place on a game “portal.” Essentially, you can change the character you’re playing on screen by swapping out a figurine on the “Portal of Power.”  The starter set comes with a copy of the game, a portal of power, and three Skylanders, with a total of 40 Skylanders and 8 new Giants sold separately or in multi-packs. The real question is: is this game a money suck, or a fun family game?

It’s a Good News/Great News Situaton


The Portal of Power in action.

Since this is a direct sequel to the original Skylanders game, all of your Skylander figures from the first game work with Skylander Giants. Players of the first game can use their beefed up characters that they days leveling the first time around. One of the ingenious things about the Skylanders figurines is that they store your characters’ progress—no need to start from scratch.

Like most RPGs, as you progress, you earn experience points and eventually level up. The Sklylanders figures store all the information for that character (level, items, etc) so if you go to your friend’s house, your figure will carry all of your data with it, ensuring that your 15 Eye Brawl won’t be a puny level one on your buddy’s machine. Speaking of machines, if you play Skylanders on the Wii U (or any console for that matter), and your friend has a different console, you can still bring your Skylanders figures to his house and use them with his copy of the game, regardless of the system. Pretty cool, huh?


You can’t tell me this doesn’t look fun.

This game is made for kids and their RPG/MMO playing parents. The game is a beat ’em up/watered down dungeon crawler. You gain experience points to level up, and there’s innumerable collectibles throughout the game. This leads to an infinite amount of re-playability and dungeon searching. You’ll have a blast trying to unlock all the scrolls and funny hats throughout the game. Speaking of hats, another way to increase your characters stats is by accessorizing your Skylander with sweet head gear. Your Giant may look ridiculous wearing a lampshade on his head, but the +5 to elemental attacks makes up for it.

There are a total of 16 levels, and the story is surprisingly engaging. If you didn’t play the first Skylanders, you’ll be just fine. There’s a recap at the beginning, and the story is meant to be mostly self contained.

Small Gripes

While the gameplay is amazing, and the story fun and engaging for both young and old gamers, the game is not without it’s faults. First of all, it only supports two players, and there’s no online co-op. This could be the end-all-be-all family game, but by limiting it to two players, some family members will just have to sit and watch. Co-p seems like a no-brainer to me, and I hope it’ll make it into the next installment. At the moment, it’s absence is definitely felt here.


Got to catch ’em all!

The second gripe I have is also what makes the game unique and fun—character switching. Throughout the game, you can swap out your character at any time, and you’re often prompted to when you reach a new area that a particular element is better against than others. Each time you swap a figure, the screen goes to a character screen. When the new figure is placed on the Portal of Power, there’s a 5 second animation introducing the character. Cool right? It is cool, unless you’re playing with a six-year-old who can’t make up his mind. This is more an admonishment against the person you’re playing with than the game’s design, but even if you only swapped out when the environment changed, when a Giant is called for, or when you need to access a secret portion of the level blocked to all but a certain element, you’re still looking at swapping 5 or 6 times a level. For this reason alone it’s almost worth limiting the number of Skylanders you have on hand to avoid over-swapping.

Overall Impressions

Again, the above are minor gripes and the overall game is amazing. You’ll even find that your kids will play with their Skylanders without the game on. If you’re a collector or completist, then this game can get expensive. Figures go on sale often, but with so many characters to buy, it’ll add up quickly. My and my son’s approach was to get one Skylander from each school of magic, of which there are 8. This meant that we could handle any scenario put in front of us, and we wouldn’t be locked out of any gates with an elemental barrier.


Eye-Brawl, fun to say, fun to play.

If you have a young gamer who you want to share an awesome experience, with then this is a no-brainer. The gameplay is smooth, the concept is fun, the story is engaging for children while not being grating for adults, and it’s super addicting. I found myself playing without my kid several times. It’s also a great way to introduce your kids to the idea of experience points and leveling because, lets face it, the next generation of geeks have to start somewhere.

Presentation: 9
Gameplay: 9
Replay: 9


This review is part of Geek Legacy’s Wii U WheelHouse campaign. Our goal is to provide insight into all the great games Nintendo’s Wii U has to offer.

Follow all of Snackbar’s mutterings on Twitter @Snackie_Cakes

    • Scythe

      Great review Dave, I agree 100%. I haven’t taken the plunge giants yet…I’m still recovering from picking up all but one of the first gen Skylanders! “Uhhhh….they’re for my son…..I swear, yeah… son”. Damn being a completionist!!!!

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