vign-skylanders-trap-team-mbf_ct2If for some strange reason you've spent the last few years living on a remote island being extra cautious about not reading any scraps of newspaper that might wash ashore and haven't heard about Skylanders, here's the deal- Originally released in late 2011, the Skylanders games, much like Disney Infinity orbit around a universe of plastic figurines with little NFC chips inside of them. You can put these figurines on another piece of plastic dubbed the "Portal of Power" and import them in to the various Skylanders games. It's a cool idea, and neatly bridges the divide between toys and video games.

There's a collection aspect to the plastic figurines too, with certain exclusive figurines only available from certain retailers or certain platforms. It's a deep rabbit hole that has only gotten deeper with new "swap force" plastic figurines that allow you to switch the top and bottom halves for even more craziness. Additionally, there's a few Skylanders games on the App Store: Skylanders Battlegrounds [$6.99], Skylanders Cloud Patrol [$1.99], and Skylanders Lost Islands [Free].

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With the crash course in Skylanders out of the way, here's why this is all relevant today- Activision just announced Skylanders Trap Team which features a tablet starter pack that you can preorder on Amazon for $74.99. (If you're preordering games or game stuff anywhere that isn't Amazon these days, you're doing it wrong.) It's a full Skylanders game for iPads, and they're even releasing all the requisite pieces of plastic to make it work. Included in the bundle is a wireless portal to summon your dudes, a wireless game controller to play the game, a couple Skylanders plastic figures and traps, and of course, sticks and trading cards because why not. The Skylanders Trap Team game itself will be playable either using the included controller, or via on-screen virtual controls.

Now, I don't play a whole lot of Skylanders, as I've reached a point in my life where I've actively tried to minimize the amount of plastic junk I collect, but this seems pretty rad to me. Then iOS game controllers were first announced back at WWDC 2013, we thought they had loads of potential, which still hasn't really been realized yet. This year we saw a bunch of great ones at E3, but we're still lacking any kind of "killer app" to drive controller adoptions rates to make them anything more than just an ultra-niche accessory.

Here's a hands on with the whole thing from FamilyGamerTV:

Could Skylanders be the driving force behind mainstream iOS gamers getting onboard the iOS physical controller bus, or is the tablet starter pack doomed for a future in the clearance aisle like so many other physical iOS gaming accessories released before it? Only time will tell.

  • Zwilnik

    From the use of the phrase "wireless" rather than mentioning MFi, I suspect the controller is locked to the Skylanders base unit rather than being a proper MFi controller. If so it'll be a lot more basic, only work with Skylanders and not help with controller adoption (and thus not be a selling point for the Skylanders pack).

    • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

      If you watch the video, they mention that other 3rd party controllers will work with Skylanders... So, that may or may not be the case. It'd seem weird that the game would be compatible with any controller while the Skylanders controller would only be compatible with Skylanders. But, hey, Activision.

      • Zwilnik

        Yup. I *really* hope they just didn't mention it because it's not finished MFi certification yet, but it's relatively easy to add in MFi controller code for 3rd party controllers alongside their interface code for the trap portal/controller.
        Configuration-wise, the controller appears to have all the required buttons (although only 2 lights, instead of 4) but it's down to whether the buttons are all analogue and within MFi spec. Would be good if you can get Activision to clarify Eli :)

      • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

        I already emailed them, all my contacts with the company have their out of the office GDC Europe autoresponders up. Fingers crossed.

      • Zwilnik

        Good stuff :) If it *is* an MFi controller, it'll be a bit of a bargain to say the least :)

      • http://afterpad.com/ Kevin MacLeod

        Sadly, this controller is NOT an Apple certified MFi controller. It uses Bluetooth LE, and which Apple does not support. This is according to an interview the devs had with Polygon.

        The game may have MFi controller support as well, though. Fingers crossed on that...

      • Boris Nguetie

        its said in the video it supports third party apple controllers, so mfi is confirmed

  • Wizard_Mike

    This is actually some potentially good news for core gamers. If this takes off and does well, then perhaps Activision will put some more big production, controller ready games on iOS. That would naturally lead to the other big publishers to follow suit, because they will naturally want a piece of that pie, too. I mean, $75 for an iPad game is kind of a big deal, so if this is successful, then that should prove that there's a market for more than just free and $0.99 games on iOS. At the very minimum, its success might at least lead to other big releases on iOS just to further test the waters. That could be a very good thing for iOS gamers, indeed!

  • Brrobotix

    For that kind of money I'd expect to get all the characters, not just a "starter pack".

    • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

      This must be your first Skylanders rodeo. :)

      • Brrobotix

        I suppose. I tried the other iOS game they have (the battleheart-esque one), and was not too impressed. Either way, I probably can't afford this kind of thing.

      • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

        It's just like Disney Infinity, the whole point of these games is for you to spend hundreds of dollars on plastic figures. It'd like real-world IAP.

  • WrenDavey

    It's nice to know it works with the 175 previous figures. My children already have a ton of these figures around the house, so I think I might buy this for them once it comes out.

    • ducksFANjason

      Right... Your "children" ;-)

  • rayray307

    This will be good for people that don't want to buy a new console, and already have an expensive tablet.

  • visualplayer

    After buying my SteelStratus controller I've done a total 180 on controllers. Still think price is high but it's a must.

  • KosMos005

    Insta buy im so waiting fpr this

  • DemoEvolved

    I predict this sky is doomed while the other versions will do great.
    Nice of them to give it a shot though

  • Mr. Grizzly

    So looking forward to this full game on my iPad. Just curious how much memory this game will use though.

  • cloudpuff

    This will be top of of my daughters Xmas wish list.

  • Boris Nguetie

    1)"but we're still lacking any kind of "killer app" to drive controller adoptions rates"
    2)"Could Skylanders be the driving force behind mainstream iOS gamers getting onboard the iOS physical controller bus"

    the hell did you miss the part where BIOSHOCK was announced for ios?!

    • Wizard_Mike

      Bioshock is a bit old now, though. This is a Q4 2014 release and will have commercials about it spammed on primetime tv and saturday morning cartoons. Which do you think will sell more?

      • Boris Nguetie

        still bioshock. because it is bioshock. can't think of a more hardcore game to make players getting a controller. its old but still considered as the best one of the 3. also because its that old, it'll feel like a fresh game for many of us who have played it only once back in 2007 and those who haven't played it at all.