Last October, the latest entry in the annual Skylander series was released — Imaginators. This year, the only console Skylanders we’re likely to see is the re-release of that same game for Nintendo’s new Switch. Skylanders Imaginators on the Switch is nearly identical to the game released in October, and to that end, I’ll rely on Nathan’s review at the time to cover the majority of the game and instead focus on the differences I’ve experienced with the Switch version.
I received the Starter Pack and three other Skylander Sensei toys to complete this review. The Starter Pack, which I believe is the only way to buy the game right now (and I forgot to check the eShop as of this writing), comes with Master King Pen, one Creation Crystal, and Golden Queen. King Pen is, as you may have surmised, a character based on a penguin who packs a cool bladed attack. Golden Queen looks like an Egyptian queen and is also enjoyable to use. The Creation Crystal is used to store your custom Skylander. The other toys I got were Grave Clobber, a really cool water-based Frankenstein, tank-like character. Egg Bomber with Air Strike is great, utilizing a long-reaching ranged attack with his bird, and Pain-Yata is another brawler type that uses candy that he vomits at his foes for his ‘A’ attack while using candy canes, lollipops, or suckers for his standard attack, executed by pressing Y.
The inclusion of Senseis to the Skylanders universe opens up new avenues of exploration and yet more powerful attacks than ever before, resulting in some frenzied battles. It’s none too tough though for anyone who is familiar with the series or is moderately good at third person action games. I recommend playing on Hard for the extra 25% of bonuses and a slightly more engaging time than if played on Normal. Battling through the game’s core ten levels to stop, you guessed it, Kaos, is another fun experience, made all the better by the toys that the series is known for.
With the Switch version, there is Portal of Power, and you store your toys to the Switch, but you have to scan them in at least twice before they’re unlocked and saved I noticed. Scanning is done by holding the toy above the thumbstick on the right joycon, as this is where the NFC reader is. The first time you read in a Skylander, which you can do at anytime from the Pause menu, it takes four or five seconds. Once that’s done, whether you scan them in again or just choose them from the list of stored Skylanders, it takes literally about one second. The very first time I scanned a Skylander in (it happened to be Grave Clobber), the Switch crashed, and I had to power off and back on. This was after the game had downloaded the v1.1 patch, too. However, since that one incident, I’ve scanned in at least a dozen or maybe two dozen toys and have had zero issues.
When played with the Switch docked, the game looks and plays very good, although I would say it still does not look as amazing as it does on the PS4. Playing the game un-docked is a different story though, at least as far as looks go. The game looks much softer and actually somewhat blurry when played un-docked, which was surprising to me. It’s serviceable and very playable like this to be fair, but the visual fidelity takes a significant step down compared to playing on the TV. Still, the portability of being able to play the game on the go, and without having to keep your toys with you, might be really enticing for a large number of players. Personally, I tend to play with younger family members, so having the toys around and swapping them in and out that way is actually more intuitive and fun, but the game is enjoyable regardless.
One other gripe I would add in is more of a comment about the joycon than the game itself, and that’s the vibration function. The right joycon vibrates when you pick up coins in Imaginators and the vibration just feels off somehow, like it just feels cheap. It’s more of an old cell phone like vibration than a haptic feedback rumble in other words. I don’t think that’s any fault of Skylanders, but I just wanted to mention that minor point.
Overall, Skylanders Imaginators on the Switch is a solid game and as good place to jump into the franchise as any if you haven’t to this point. That said, the only real advantage to the Switch version over say the PS4 or Xbox One version is the portability, but even that might not be that important to you. Additionally, the PS4 or Xbox One versions are cheaper than this release, and both of those offer a higher fidelity presentation. Still, if you’re looking for a fun, kid-to-adult friendly game, Skylanders is an excellent choice.