Last updated

Skylanders logo.png
Genre(s) Platform, role-playing
Publisher(s) Activision
Creator(s) Universal Interactive (Spyro characters)
Composer(s) Lorne Balfe
Platform(s) Android, iOS, Microsoft Windows, Nintendo 3DS, macOS, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Wii, Wii U, Nintendo Switch, Xbox 360, Xbox One
First release Spyro's Adventure
October 13, 2011
Latest releaseRing of Heroes
December 12, 2018

Skylanders is a toys-to-life action-adventure video game series published by Activision. [1] [2] Inspired by [3] the Spyro series, Skylanders games are played by placing character figures called the Skylanders on the "Portal of Power", a device that reads the figures' tags through NFC and "imports" the character represented by the figure into the game as a playable character.



The game takes place in a world called Skylands, a realm filled with adventure and floating islands. It is the center of the universe where it is constantly threatened by evil forces who seek to rule Skylands and gain access to all worlds. [4] A band of heroes called the Skylanders use their abilities and machinery to defend their world from various threats, which they have done for generations. They have worked with the Portal Masters in keeping peace and balance in Skylands, battling the forces of evil, and protecting the Core of Light. Kaos, the main antagonist, has destroyed the Core of Light and Skylands is in his hands. It is up to the player to send the Skylanders into the game and stop Kaos. The Skylanders have an unbreakable bond with their Portal Masters. Each Skylander is associated with one of the ten elements of Skylands: Earth, Air, Fire, Water, Magic, Tech, Life, Undead, Light, and Dark. The main plot is the Skylanders going through levels to defeat Kaos, and stop him from ruling over Skylands. The console versions of each game follow identical storylines, while the Nintendo 3DS versions follow stories different from those of the console versions. The Nintendo Switch port of Skylanders Imaginators has a main Antagonist of Kataclysm, Kaos’s father. Kataclysm creates an alternate Core Of Light known as the Core Of Darkness. The Skylanders team up to destroy it and have bagels for lunch after.


Release timeline
2011 Spyro's Adventure
2012 Giants
2013 Swap Force
2014 Trap Team
2015 SuperChargers
2016 Imaginators

Spyro's Adventure (2011)

This is the first edition of the Skylanders franchise. There are 32 Skylanders in the game, four Skylanders for all eight elements. Skylanders are able to open gates of their element, which are found throughout the game. Here the main goal of the Skylanders is to restore the core of light that was previously destroyed by Kaos.

Giants (2012)

Giants is the second installment in the Skylanders series set as a direct sequel to Spyro's Adventure. It introduces a new team of Skylanders called the Giants, massive creatures who were the first Skylanders assembled to stop the reign of Arkeyans. Unlike the other Skylanders, the Giants can lift, throw, and destroy trees and rocks as well. The players use the Giants when Kaos has found a way to reactivate the Arkeyan Conquertron.

Swap Force (2013)

Swap Force is the third installment in the franchise. Taking place in another part of Skylands called the Cloudbreak Islands, the player takes control of a new group of Skylanders called the Swap Force who hold the ability to swap top and bottom halves and abilities. Together, the Swap Force and the Skylanders fight Kaos and his mother.

Trap Team (2014)

Trap Team is the fourth installment in the franchise. It introduces the Trap mechanic, which allows players to trap in-game enemies in element-specific Elemental Traps which are shards of trap crystals called Traptainium. The trapped enemies can then be summoned as playable characters for a limited time, except in the main hub, where they can be played for an unlimited amount of time. They also introduced two new elements, those being the Light and Dark elements.

SuperChargers (2015)

SuperChargers is the fifth installment in the series. It introduces a new group of Skylanders called the SuperChargers who pilot special vehicles that allow the Skylanders to create rifts to travel through like portals. Two characters exclusive to the Nintendo console versions are Mario franchise characters Donkey Kong and Bowser as Turbo Charge Donkey Kong and Hammer Slam Bowser, along with their respective vehicles, the Barrel Blaster and Clown Cruiser. The characters, but not their vehicles, which were made exclusively for the game, also function as amiibo figures. The Wii version of the game is titled Skylanders: SuperChargers Racing and does not have adventure segments from the Wii U and PS3 versions. The Nintendo 3DS version also carries that same name and likewise focuses on the racing elements only. This was the last game to be released on tablets.

Imaginators (2016)

A sixth game was released on October 13, 2016 in Australia and New Zealand, on October 14, 2016 in Europe and on October 16, 2016 in North America. [5] In June 2016, Activision announced that the game would be titled Skylanders Imaginators, which allows players to create and customize their own Skylanders called Imaginators. The title was developed by Toys for Bob. [6] Crash Bandicoot and Doctor Neo Cortex are guest stars as playable characters in the game, marking their first appearance in a video game since Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart 2 in 2010. [7] The figures for both were initially exclusive to the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 starter packs (although they are playable on all consoles), but were released later on as a stand-alone double pack. Crash and Cortex appear as part of the Sensei Skylanders whose job is to train the Imaginators.

Version Differences

Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure

The version of Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure developed by Toys for Bob was designed for the Nintendo Wii, with a HD version made for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC. Many motion-controlled activites were consequentially reassigned button inputs for certain actions. It is also why Skylanders possess only 3 abilities and cannot jump in the earlier entries, due to the lack of buttons on the Wii Remote.

The Wii version features a New Game Plus option, which allows players to bypass most of the game's cutscenes and dialogue on a new file after beating the game. HD versions, however, require that the player watch most of the cutscenes and listen to all of the dialogue no matter what file is loaded.

On the Wii version, character portraits used in dialogue feature stylistic 2D artwork, whereas HD versions use 3D character models.

There are also a number of mechanical differences. On HD versions of the game, collision mechanics with abilities like 'Hex's Wall of Bones' are different, such that partner Skylanders in co-op mode can be lifted by them and circumvent obstacles.

The Wii, Playstation 3 and PC versions of Spyro's Adventure feature a wireless portal that includes a USB wireless connector. The portal requires AA batteries. The Xbox 360 version of Spyro's Adventure features a wired portal, an adaptation that was made when testers who were forwarded early copies of the game expressed their frustration with providing the portal with batteries. Every Skylanders instalment thereafter featured a wired portal.

The 3DS version, developed by Vicarious Visions, is radically different from the Console and PC versions. The 3DS version has no co-op functionality, and hence the starter pack includes a smaller Portal with an infrared reader that can connect to a 3DS system. The portal is powered with AAA batteries and has a USB port that allows it to function with the console versions of the game. It features a different plot and set of non-playable characters (with the exception of Eon). The three Skylanders included in the starter pack are also different, substituting the Toys for Bob version's 'Spyro', 'Gill Grunt' and 'Trigger Happy' for 'Ignitor', 'Stealth Elf' and 'Dark Spyro', a cosmetic variant of 'Spyro'. Players do not need to keep their Skylanders on the portal at all times like on the console versions, and instead 'load' two Skylanders into the game that they can alternate between, until a new Skylander is loaded in to replace it.


In 2011, Activision released Skylanders Universe, an online browser-based multiplayer game that allowed players to interact with each other in Skylands, play minigames, customise their own island and log their Skylanders collection. Players could connect their portals to their computer to summon their Skylanders, much like in the core series. The service has since been discontinued.

Activision released seven Skylanders spin-off games on mobile devices. [8] These titles include Cloud Patrol, Battlegrounds, Lost Islands, Collection Vault, Trap Team, SuperChargers (mobile port), Battlecast and Ring of Heroes.


Lorne Balfe has composed the soundtracks to all the Skylanders games thus far, while Hans Zimmer composed the main theme.[ citation needed ] Imaginators does not use an original soundtrack, instead opting for a mix of stock music and pieces from previous games. An official soundtrack for Imaginators was also never released.



A series of books in the Skylanders franchise started with Skylanders: The Machine of Doom that takes place before the events of Spyro's Adventure. It was written by Cavan Scott, who would later write sequels to the novel under the Skylanders: The Mask of Power series, which also serve as prequels to Spyro's Adventure.

Art Books

Two art books, Strata: The Art of Skylanders: Swap Force and Clutch: The Art of Skylanders: Superchargers, were produced by Vicarious Visions. As employee exclusives, the only way to obtain them is through online sellers or charity events.

IDW Publishing

IDW Publishing created a comic series associated with the Skylanders franchise that has events that take place in between the games. [9] The series was reportedly cancelled in order to not conflict with Skylanders Academy, which used a different canon.

TV series

In 2016, it was announced that Activision Blizzard Studios would produce an animated television series based on Skylanders. [10] The first season debuted on Netflix on October 28, 2016, the second season on October 6, 2017 and the third and final season premiered on September 28, 2018. [11] [12] On April 30, 2019, it was announced that Skylanders Academy was cancelled. [13]

Possible film

Activision has commented on the possibility of a movie and TV series based on the Skylanders reboot as something that they could look into in the future. [14] On May 6, 2014, Activision CEO Eric Hirshberg announced that the Activision team had an interest in "jumping on the film adaptation bandwagon" and adapting Skylanders into a film. [15]


Aggregate review scores
Game Metacritic
Spyro's Adventure (3DS) 82 [16]
(Wii) 81 [17]
(X360) 78 [18]
(PS3) 77 [19]
Giants (X360) 80 [20]
(Wii U) 80 [21]
(Wii) 78 [22]
(PS3) 77 [23]
(3DS) 59 [24]
Swap Force (Wii U) 89 [25]
(X360) 83 [26]
(PS3) 83 [27]
(PS4) 79 [28]
(3DS) 68 [29]
Trap Team (Wii U) 86 [30]
(XONE) 78 [31]
(PS4) 78 [32]
SuperChargers (Wii U) 87 [33]
(XONE) 76 [34]
(PS4) 81 [35]
Imaginators (Wii U) 77 [36]
(XONE) 78 [37]
(PS4) 79 [38]
(NS) 72 [39]

Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure received generally favorable reviews, many praising the technological use of the "Portal of Power". Although some reviewers criticized the absence of online multiplayer, the toys for the Skylanders were widely praised. Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure was nominated for two Toy Industry Association awards: "Game of the Year" and "Innovative Toy of the Year." [40]

Skylanders Giants was released to generally positive reviews. However, the reviews from GameRankings and Metacritic were slightly lower than that of the previous game on some platforms. Cheat Code Central gave the game 9.2/10 and commented that "it feels like someone finally got everything right when creating a sequel," and praising the ability to use the Skylanders toys from the first game in the second.

Skylanders: Swap Force was released to very positive reviews, with the reviews from GameRankings and Metacritic being the highest and most genuinely positive of the series so far across all platforms. Gaming website Quarter To Three gave both the Wii U and Xbox 360 a perfect score of 5/5. Video Game website Gaming Age gave the PlayStation 3 version the highest grade of an "A" and further commented that "Whether you’re a Skylanders fan or a gamer who’s looking for a charming and unique family-friendly game series to get into, Skylanders SWAP Force comes highly recommended."

Skylanders: Trap Team was released to positive reviews. However, the reviews from GameRankings and Metacritic were slightly lower than that of the previous game on most platforms with only the IOS/Tablet version receiving the highest score.

Skylanders: SuperChargers received positive reviews. The reviews from GameRankings and Metacritic were better than the previous game on most Platforms, with the exception of the Xbox One version slightly lower and the Wii and iOS versions having the highest scores.

Skylanders: Imaginators received positive reviews on Metacritic, though the scores for the Wii U and PlayStation 4 editions were lower than those of the previous game.

As of February 2015, the Skylanders series has crossed the threshold of $3 billion in sales, with 175 million toys sold since 2011, making the series one of the top 20 highest-selling video game franchises of all time. [41] [42] As of 2015, over 250 million toys were sold. [43] As of 2016, over 300 million toys have been sold and the franchise has become the 11th biggest console franchise of all time. [44]

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