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Skylanders: Swap Force

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Skylanders: Swap Force

Skylanders SWAP Force KeyArt Standard FINAL HiRes

Developer(s): Vicarious Visions
Toys for Bob
Beenox (Wii)
n-Space (3DS)
Publisher(s): Activision
Released: October 13, 2013 (US)
October 18, 2013 (EU)
October 16, 2013 (AU)
Fall 2013 (PS4 and Xbox One)
Genre: Platform
Modes: Single-player, co-op
Rating: E+10
Platform(s): Xbox 360
PS3
Wii
Wii U
3DS
PS4
Xbox One

Skylanders: Swap Force is the third installment in the Skylanders series, the sequel to Skylanders: Giants. In this game, a new group of Skylanders are introduced: the SWAP Force.

Story Summary

Portal Masters embark on an all-new adventure in the mysterious Cloudbreak Islands, home to a mystical volcano that erupts every hundred years to replenish the magic in Skylands. During an epic battle, a brave group of Skylanders were caught in the volcano's eruption, which blasted them apart and sent them to earth. But, the magic of the volcano gave these heroes a remarkable new power -- the ability to swap halves -- turning them into a special team known as the SWAP Force.

Meanwhile, Kaos is back with a new evil plan. And now, Portal Masters everywhere must reassemble the SWAP Force -- in their original form or in new combinations -- and send them back to Cloudbreak to save Skylands![1]

Gameplay

Due to the game being developed by Vicarious Visions, Swap Force now possesses a jump ability for all Skylanders, a mechanic that was unavailable in the previous console titles. If the Skylanders fall off a path, they don't get hurt, and are simply reset back on the path, making the game very forgiving with the young target audience.[2]

Vast Possibilities for Play

Skylanders SWAP Force features 16 new inter-action figures with new powers and a fresh play pattern – dynamic swapability – that lets kids create more than 250 unique character combinations, giving them more choice than ever before over how they fight and move in the game. With each new addition to their Skylanders SWAP Force collection, Portal Masters unlock an exciting world of possibilities.

More Play Options

For the first time, Portal Masters can experience new dimensions of gameplay including the addition of jumping. And, seasoned fans can play Skylanders SWAP Force with their entire collection of characters from Skylanders Spyro’s Adventure and Skylanders Giants. Skylanders SWAP Force delivers a diverse and dynamic, story-driven gameplay experience, filled with adventure, combat, puzzles, mini games, and drop-in/drop-out co-op - all set within compelling environments.

All New Characters

More than 50 collectible characters including: 16 new SWAP Force characters, 16 new Skylanders characters, 8 LightCore™ Skylanders characters, 16 new versions of fan-favorite Skylanders from the previous games, each featuring an all new “Wow Pow” upgrade power.

Exciting Adventure

Portal Masters will embark on a brand new adventure, encountering never-before-seen enemies and challenges, as well as meeting memorable non-playable characters who can help the Skylanders defeat Kaos and his minions in the Cloudbreak Islands.

Unique Swap Force Zones

Skylanders SWAP Force characters feature traversal abilities – such as flying, climbing, digging, bouncing, or teleporting – each of which can be explored in new areas of Skylands that are centered on these new play mechanics.

Enhanced Graphics Quality

Swap Force’s high-resolution graphics bring to life amazingly detailed characters and richer environments to deliver a high level of visual fidelity that immerses players in the game like never before.[3]

List of known Swap Force Skylanders

Plot

The story begins with Master Eon introducing the player to the world of Skylands as well as its protectors, the Skylanders. The veteran Portal Master then reveals the backstory of a special group of Skylanders known as the SWAP Force, who protected the Cloudbreak Islands and its magical volcano that regenerates the magic in all of Skylands every one hundred years. During an epic battle against a swarm of Fire Vipers summoned by a dark figure, the SWAP Force were caught in the eruption of the magic volcano, which granted them the ability to swap halves, but in the process banished them to Earth.

In the present, Flynn is on vacation at the Cloudbreak Islands to see its next one hundredth eruption. He is encountered by Tessa, a fox girl riding on a large bird named Whiskers, and thrust into another adventure when Kaos ordered a group of Greebles to attack Tessa's village before the volcano celebration...

Development

Swap Force actually started out as an original Vicarious Visions concept about how the developers could build on the greatness of Skylanders - playing together, building your collection, and the value of the collection. Also, what's fun from a toy standpoint: not just what's better on the video game side, but what makes for an interesting play pattern on the toy side? The toy design is actually led by Vicarious but I-Wei Huang, Character Director, and Paul Reiche III, Founder. have a close interaction on iterating with the designs and making them home in the Skylands.[4]

Less than a year after having two major projects cancelled, the team at Vicarious Visions didn’t quite know what they were going to do in the third main entry in the Skylanders franchise. “We knew that we wanted to do something that built off of that and added new magic to bring toys to life,” Vicarious Visions’ Jeremy Russo explained. "One idea we kept coming back to was mix and match. The idea of taking apart different characters and recombining them to create something unique."

The mix-and-match concept, later becoming Swap Force’s main gimmick, was in its infancy at that point. The team hadn’t figured out much of the gameplay or logistics yet. Still, when Activision’s executives visited, the idea was approved. Russo recalled that Activision CEO Eric Hirshberg even called it “magical.” From there, the studio was off to the races to make the magic come to life.

“We initially split it into two groups,” Russo detailed. “We had engineers figuring out how it would actually work.” The original engineer-created character was essentially a mound of clay with an audio jack connecting two parts. It was crude, but effective at laying the base for how magnets would later bring it to fruition.

“Separately, we had designers and artists focusing on the game concept, like what this would actually mean to the player,” Russo said. “That was a lot of fun, but it was all just theory at that point. We knew we had something magical but we just weren’t making that connection between the hardware and the software at that point.”

Then Engineer Brent Gibson made what later became known as the “Frankenlander.” He went home, took apart a bunch of Skylanders and made a three-piece creation (or maybe abomination) using Spyro’s head, Prism Break’s torso, and Voodood’s legs. A video created by Gibson in the wee hours of the morning circulated around some of the team leads, showing, with no audio, Gibson taking Spyro’s head, and thanks to the magic of magnets, attaching it to the torso and the legs with one hand. It was the eureka moment of the entire project. The proof of concept that the Swap Force concept could actually work. And it happened before the first Skylanders game even hit stores.

Gibson was then instructed to make a few more of these beasts so they could use them as the basis for the new characters. No longer using his own home as the workshop, he worked in the New York studio’s own facilities. While cutting Skylanders into pieces for the good of the Cloudbreak Islands, Gibson managed to slice his hand open. Blood pooling in his hand, he tried to cover it up, until someone discovered him and then lead him to a garbage to dump his handful of blood and after that, the hospital. Gnarly scar in hand, Gibson was one of the key catalysts driving Swap Force from theory to reality.[5]

Reception

Skylanders: Swap Force received mostly positive reviews. Venture Beat holds the game with the score of 90/100 and adds that 'while the inclusion of the jump button certainly makes for more varied gameplay, it also may add more challenge for the younger gamers in your household.'[6] Game Informer gave it a 8.50, saying that the game 'handles the empowerment of playing god convincingly'.[7] IGN gave Swap Force an 8.5, stating that the game 'delivers almost everything fans could want. There are fantastic new characters, a funny story, and a complete disregard for the boring rules that say robots and wizards shouldn't be part of the same world.'[8]

Gallery

Videos

Trivia

  • This is the first Skylanders console game that has the jumping mechanic included.
  • This is the first Skylanders game whose console versions aren't mainly developed by Toys for Bob, though Toys for Bob worked closely with Vicarious Visions on the game and character design.[2]
  • Swap Force is the first Skylanders game to be released in the United States before the other countries (Australia was the first to receive the previous two Skylanders titles).
  • The 3DS version of Swap Force is the first to include voice acting, something that was absent in the previous 3DS titles.

References

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