Skylanders Swap Force 3DS Review

Mattel's old He-Man toys featured swappable arms. While not part of the marketing campaign, that didn't stop us from matching different-colored limbs in the hope of creating alternate characters. That was basic stuff fueled by imagination. For Activision's Skylanders Swap Force, it's the primary selling point. The third entry in the popular franchise features special figurines that attach via powerful magnets, giving players the chance to create all-new heroes for use in the game. Not only do these warriors receive signature abilities, they also look cool displayed on a shelf.

With this in mind, the 3DS Skylanders games are surprisingly good, and thankfully, the portable version of Swap Force is no exception.


The Good

The first thing we had to do, naturally, was swap some character parts. Although the bundle comes with three figurines, only two (Free Ranger and Rattle Shake) come apart. From there, it's as simple as combining torsos and legs (or in Rattle Shake's case, tail) and placing the plastic creation atop the included and wireless Portal of Power; the two combine to form Rattle Ranger, a creature that possesses Rattle Shake's long-range attack and Free Ranger's whirlwind maneuver. Press down to activate the device and place the 3DS within range, and the character appears in the video game. Not bad, but the developers made things even easier by allowing users to match-up parts virtually after scanning the characters. It beats having to carry them around.

The game itself is fun, albeit familiar. Each stage features a small army of bad guys to pummel, coins to collect and special challenges to complete. In true Skylanders fashion, you'll need characters of a certain elemental type to access key areas, and this extends to the swap mechanic, as you combine monsters to achieve the desired symbol.

Blatant cash-in? Sure, but the levels are so well thought out, and the characters smartly designed, that struggling to avoid adding just one more Skylander to your collection will be difficult to resist. Quite frankly, we can't blame you, since there are a few we have our eyes on.

The Bad

Activision gives you just enough to enjoy Swap Force, but to unlock its true potential and achieve 100 percent completion, you'll need to fork over some cash for new toys. Additionally, there's little about Swap Force that stood out from previous 3DS Skylanders games. Activision usually takes a safe approach when it comes to the handheld versions and it shows. That said, don't expect many over-the-top set pieces.

The Verdict

Skylanders Swap Force is another entertaining 3DS game, and one of the few that compliments its console counterpart. Considering it's compatible with previously released Skylanders, there's a tremendous amount of value packed into the box. The missions feel familiar, but that probably won't matter much to hardcore fans desperate for their newest fix.

Review copy provided by Activision.


3.5/5