My seven-year-old son loves the Skylanders video game series. I mean LOVES. We have so many of the collectable little action figures turned video game characters that storing them all takes up more than one shelf in our home entertainment unit. And you know, I kind of love them too.
I have to say that the gameplay itself is fairly addictive and the idea is genius. Instead of bitiching about the general state of the game industry and the piracy of product, Toys for Bob, the creators of the Skylanders series basically invented an entire new genre of video games, and in the process made the experience even more engrossing by introducing the idea of collectable figures that you have to purchase to then unlock and use in the game.
Think of the Beanie Babies craze in the 90s. Think of the adrenalin rush one got when they tracked down that cute little limited edition Princess Diana purple bear they so coveted. It’s the same basic idea at work here. Some of the figures are limited edition and highly collectable, while others are available in abundance. Of course the whole endeavor is a time and money sink, and the market for these things will eventually crash and burn, but for the moment, Skylanders is not just a fun video game, but collecting the little critters necessary to play is also a fun hobby.
Needless to say, when we saw that there was a Skylanders novel we couldn’t resist. Could the reading experience live up to the magic of the collecting and conquering experiences? Well, things didn’t get off to a very good start. I flipped the book over to read what it was all about and my eyes were greeted with the following text:
Really Grosset & Dunlap? Will you be releasing more books in the Sklyanders series to teach my cihld how to porperly raed? Oh, also, that’s Boomer pictured on the top left, he’s a Skylander that also plays a rather prominent role in the story. Could you care about the product you licensed for adaptation any less?
The story itself is fairly enjoyable and serves as a nice bridge between the events that occurred at the end of the first game and what transpires at the beginning of the second one. Just like the back cover copy spells out, Spyro, Gill Grunt, Boomer, and Eruptor team together on a journey across Skylands in an attempt to thwart the evil Kaos from completing his master plan of controlling an ancient giant.
Along the way they get into and quickly out of trouble, do battle against some strong opposition, and crack wise about all things experienced. It’s a suitable novel for the six and up crowd, and I have to admit, reading it aloud to my son at bedtime, and getting the opportunity to do the voices of each of the characters out loud was a pretty fun experience. I especially enjoy giving voice to Flynn and Kaos in particular.
Your mileage will probably vary if you’re new to the Skylanders universe or have had minimal exposure to it. This is a fine action/adventure story, but it is one that does require you to have at least some cursory knowledge of the world in which it takes place.
Are there more of these books coming soon? I sure hope so.
Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure: The Machine of Doom
By Cavan Scott
Grosset & Dunlap