I really enjoyed the first three games in the Playstation-1 series of Spyro The Dragon. The series transitioned to the next series of consoles in a confusing fashion. Mere years after being one of two big Mario-style flagship titles for the PS1, both Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon were being treated like faceless commodities sold to the highest bidder. There was one that came out for the Xbox and Gamecube and the PS2, and one that just came out for the PS2 and the Gamecube, no Xbox at all and no explanation. Just random bad luck.
As if this weren’t bad enough there was an attempt at a “revival” of Spyro as a fighting game with scattered little bits of platforming elements left laying around between the violence as if to remind the character he was once relevant. “The Legend of Spyro” titles had excellent voice acting and decent effects, but the controls were asinine for the first two volumes and by then nobody was left who gave a damn. They hustled the third volume out after grandiose hints that a “movie” might be possible when pimping the first two titles - the movie a long since dead end same as the revival.
Drift out another two years and it’s decided that the game, the franchise, the character Spyro himself can’t sustain another title without some serious hedged bets and useless boondoggles. I mean, it might make some kind of sense if the actionless figures serving as anti-piracy dongle here was just a USB stick you had to plug into a port, served as an auxiliary memory card to store your avatar’s progress.
But no. You are required to attach the platform and put an assortment of action figures on the platform. Not just one, but many. The gist of the new Skylanders Spyro Adventure or whatever they call it, is that you need to buy another insanely overpriced $70 title that comes with a proprietary USB device that serves as a platform for your Avatar.
The Avatar is a plastic figurine and you
Wanna feel even more marketed-down-at? There are 30 of these $8 monsters, many retailer-exclusive figures. So there's one you can ONLY get at Target, another one elsewhere, etc. Ready for the collect-them-all zombie-like epidemia of the 1980s? No, neither is anybody else!
If your kid somehow goes nuts for this garbage you can shave off a few measly bucks and buy a 3-pack for $20. Let’s see, 30 x 8 = 240 + 70 = $310 total cost of ownership for the entire package. At list price. Which, mercifully, you won’t see for long.
This is the kind of horrific overmarketing and underplanning that populates bargain bins and thrift store shelves almost as soon as it’s released. After watching all the other kinds of stupid ideas flash in the pan and go bust all these years since Pong and Pac•Man I am literally stupified that this could have gotten past the planning stages. Yet another game that is totally useless without some equally useless attachment? Haven’t we seen how titles with exclusive peripherals fare in this world of everything-else-isn’t-like-this?
With the exception of the Rock Band/Guitar Hero phase of American gamer culture, nobody can remember the last game that had a peripheral which wasn’t a colossal flop unless perhaps we’re talking about the Donkey Kong bongos for the Gamecube. Even then they got ridiculed in stories and reviews for being a kitschy idea bound to fail. So where was that common wisdom when Skylanders came up with this D.O.A. scheme to drive another nail in Spyro’s coffin?
One last note: normally when some toy maker tries to shovel out some piece of cross-marketing like this it at least has a cartoon show or horrifically bad live action thing like the Morphin Power Rangers to hang itself on. Thusfar there is NO teevee cartoon or any other show to hang this bad idea up on. It’s just a really bad idea for three different consoles. Don’t worry if it does happen to interest you, it’s sure to be in bargain bins and clearance racks soon enough just like those DJ Hero turntables are right now...
The mind reels, but I’ve said my piece, and the bargain bin won’t be enough to get me to try this steaming heap of capitalistic flotsam. I'll just go replay the few good Spyro titles they made. You remember? 10-12 years ago!