The boxed starter pack comes with a game disc, 3 Skylanders figures and a Portal of Power. Before you start the game the Portal of Power needs to be synced to the Wii just as a new controller would - the instruction booklet explains how to do this. It is the Portal of Power that makes the Skylanders figures interactive and at the start of the game you are asked to place your chosen figure onto the Portal, which is then at once recognised by the Wii and displayed on the TV screen - I must admit I was pretty amazed at this point!
In the Adventure mode you can work your way through Skyland and collect treasure and food - collecting various items increase the level of your Skylander as well as it's life - if the life gets too low then it needs to be replaced with a different Skylander. At various points in the game you're asked to use a Skylander from, for example, the Earth or Water class. As there are only 3 figures included I am guessing that you will soon reach a point where you get asked to use a figure of a class that you don't have. A friend of mine whose 7 year old son is a big fan of this game has been collecting the figures since Christmas and now has quite a few. She tells me that there are different options that can be taken but ultimately to complete the game you need a figure from each Elemental Class to enter all the zones within the game.
Sam challenged me to a game in Battle mode and I was really pleased that I completely annihilated him (although the figures don't 'die', they just lose) but on the next round he had grasped what he needed to do whereas I still hadn't (and never did) and the tables were turned. There are 3 different games to play in the battle mode - Arena Rumble, a head to head battle, SkyGoals (Sam's favourite) where you have to collect a ball before your opponent and run with it to the goal or take a pot shot at the target before your opponent tackles it from you, and SkyGem Master, a challenge to collect 5 gems before your opponent and make them drop theirs by battling with them.
The Skylanders starter pack retails around £37 (Amazon) to £50 (Tesco) and the single figures from around £6.99 (Play.com) but with some that I've seen at around £20. As with any game that has 'collectibles' some of the rarer ones are inevitably going to cost more than others. Bearing this in mind the minimum that you would need to spend in addition to the cost of the game is £34.95 if you managed to get each of the 5 additional figures (one for each Element) for only £6.99. Whilst the game could prove to be expensive it is also something that can be added to over a period of time and, as my friend has found out, can keep a 7 year old boy happy for a very long time with not just playing the game on the Wii but by also role playing with the figures.
The game is aimed at children aged 7 years and up.
We were sent the starter pack, an additional figure as well as some other Skylanders goodies for the purpose of this review.