October 15, 2014

Skylanders Trap Team

Lasting First Impressions

Get your wallets ready because the fourth title from the wonderfully innovative franchise, Skylanders, has arrived in stores.  Taking their turn with the Skylanders franchise, developer Beenox returns with Skylanders Trap Team and, along with them, a whole new way to play the game.  This year, we have a brand new portal, complete with a transparent water-like surface and a strange looking cage attached with a slot for a new type of toy.  This ‘cage’ is there so that players can trap the in-game villains in new “Traptanium Traps” inserted into the available slot.  Once captured, villains now work for you.  And, yes, you can finally play as Kaos!  It is new, it is innovative, and it is absolutely fun.  Just what we’ve all come to expect from the Skylanders franchise.


Last year we had new characters called the Swap Force, allowing players hundred of different combinations of characters as they swapped tops and bottoms of characters to form new identities.  This year, we have the Trap Team, and along with them, new, incredibly detailed and fantastic looking characters, sporting new “traptanium” weapons and armour.  Traptainium is a powerful crystal found in the Skylands that only the Trap Team can yield and can use to trap the villains.  This is the major new gameplay element in Skylanders Trap Team.  As major villains are encountered, if the player has the correct elemental trap (just like Skylanders, there are 8 elemental traps) inserted into the new Traptanium Portal, that villain can be captured.  Once they are in the trap, players will no doubt smile and laugh as the portal’s built-in speaker allows the villains to talk to them while stored in the crystal.  They will even comment on events happening in the game as the player progresses, truly making it seems like the villain is actually inside the trap.   It is a wonderful feature and one that forced me to stop using my Astro A50 headphones while playing this game just so I could hear them speak.

The trapped villains are utilized in a sort of tag team like gameplay.  By pulling the Left Trigger, they can be pulled out of the trap and put into the player’s control for a finite amount of time. When their time bar reaches zero, they are pulled back into the trap to regain their ‘parole’ time.  Some villains are more useful than others and some work very well as a tag team.  For example, Chill Bill’s ability is to freeze enemies, giving players the opportunity to release Chill Bill, freeze the enemies, then ‘tag’ the Skylander back in to dispatch them.

Chompy Mage_Screen

Skylanders Trap Team brings back the tried and true formula of gameplay, with multiple chapters, collectibles, Portal Master rank, and the usual accompaniment of  Flynn and his iconic BOOM!  Fans of the series will be right at home here with the new game and will feel comfortable just jumping in.  My only disappointment comes from the seeming lack of support for previous generations of special Skylanders: Giants and Swap Force.  All those Swap Force characters that you so lovingly leveled up? All the different combinations of characters that you found most useful?  They are simply relegated to regular old characters now.  There are no areas in Trap Team that need either a swappable character or their special abilities, or even the Giants for that matter.  They’re simply not needed anymore.  All of the elemental gates in the game require a Trap Master character to open and the special treasure chests require a trapped villain instead of the usual Giant.  I realize this is normal practice for each iteration of the franchise, but it just feels like the Swap Force mechanic would go well with any new Skylander game going forward.  It makes our previous purchases feel all for naught.


Regardless, Skylanders Trap Team is full of fun activities to do, even outside of the regular story quest.  Several mini games are available including the new Kaos Challenge areas.  These leveled areas are wonderful for working on that low level Skylander and giving them the level and money boost they need.  The Kaos Challenge is an Orcs Must Die! style action tower defence game.  You must defend a treasure chest from the evil forces of Kaos and, between missions, there are areas available to build a tower based on the element of the Skylander building it.  Towers level up as they survive missions and you gain coin between each wave of enemies for the remaining towers.  Playing through several levels of this challenge mode will be sure to give your low level Skylander a much needed boost.

Trap Team Screen 5

Other mini games include a Battle Arena, and a game called Skystones.  Skystones is a very light version of Magic: The Gathering or Hearthstone.  The “cards” you have available to you are based on the villains you have already captured during the regular gameplay.  Speaking of these villains, they also have their own missions to perform during the main story should you have them trapped and with you during play.  These are their “redemption” quests and, once completed, they evolve the villain into an true hero.  Hmm…does this mean Kaos is a hero now?  What does that mean for the future of the Skylanders franchise?  I guess time will tell.

All in all, Skylanders Trap Team is most certainly a worthy new game for the franchise.  Pushing the Toys to Life genre even further by introducing the traps and essentially giving Life to Toys, Skylanders Trap Team is another fun romp through the Skylands.  Just get your wallet ready for all those traps and new Trap Master characters that you’re inevitably going to want to buy!

About the Author

Sean is an avid gamer and lover of all thing tech. He is a dedicated husband and the father to three beautiful daughters. In addition to taking his love of gaming to a new level with this site, Sean is also host of our podcasts: The OMG! Hour, Lost Treasures of Gaming, and Primetime as well as the bi-weekly podcast mashup show, Gamers Unscripted. Follow Sean on Twitter as @Xiantayne and this blog as @OMGnexus.



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