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Skylanders has brought toys to life and life to toys, and pretty soon kids will get to customize their own characters with Skylanders Imaginators (I know, pinch me because I must be dreaming). While I not-so-patiently wait until October for the new release,Activision has filled the void with a newly-released Skylanders mobile game, Skylanders Battlecast. Available for all devices from the iTunes App Store, Google Play, and Amazon, Portal Masters will become Battlecasters as they build a deck of cards, master strategic card combinations, and use them in new battles. The game offers an augmented realty experience, an all-new storyline for single-player campaigns, and an online player-versus-player (PvP) game mode. Kids can enhance their on-screen battles with the purchase of physical Battle card packs and Booster card packs, or digital card packs found within the game. To start, players download the free app on any mobile device. From there, Battlecasters will enter a tutorial at Skylanders Academy. Evil villain Kaos is back and has opened a rift to a second dimension, and it’s up to the player to go through different realms representing each element to defeat different bosses, before meeting Kaos for an epic showdown.
The cards-to-life element takes physical cards and lets players transport their characters into the game using the camera on their mobile device. Kids can buy different versions of Skylanders Battlecast cards, including Battle Packs (featuring two versions of 22 cards) and Booster Packs (with eight cards of a random selection). There are 270 cards to collect in total, and there are five layers of collectibility: common, rare, epic, ultimate, and foil. There are also four different character groups: character cards, which include characters from all of the Skylanders games for battle; spell cards to enable powerful spell casting on enemies; gear cards to boost stats or add an effect during battle; and relic cards that change battle elements. Although kids don’t have to purchase cards to play, they’re inexpensive and offer additional elements to the game to help them level up faster. It’s really easy to import your cards into your game—just scan the card, give the app a nanosecond to recognize it, and the character will pop up on screen as if he or she is standing at attention, ready for battle. The characters will also jump right into battle or participate in a mini game. The augmented reality aspect of the game is really fun because the characters and cards will seem as though they’re up and about on whatever surface you scan them on. Kids can even hold the card in their hand, and feel like they are holding their favorite Skylander. Players can customize their 30-card decks, or the game will automatically choose it for them. Kids can choose between two types of gameplay: single player campaign and PvP. I’m always a sucker for the single player story lines, but for kids looking for short, fast battle, PvP is a great option. Kids can create their own custom player names and Friends Lists to challenge their friends over and over again. The game itself is filled with battles that require strategic thinking and lots of twists, attacks, and power-ups. Players will use their cards to boost their attacks and use spells on their enemies, but each action requires a certain amount of energy. Energy will refill at random after each turn, but the strategy comes in when you need to save up energy for a big move. The villains can also cast spells on you, so certain cards such as health boosters will be super helpful. My favorite spell is, “Sucks to be You,” which makes the enemy attack itself. It actually made me laugh out loud, and it embraces the cheeky fun of the Skylanders franchise and its characters as a whole. As kids build their decks and get to higher levels, they can get to explore new realms and continue to fight Kaos’ minions. Fans of Skylanders will appreciate the familiar characters and attacks in the game. Players will use their cards to jump from realm to realm, defeat bosses, and play new missions before they arrive at the last stop—Kaos’ Lair. I had a lot of fun going through the levels and beating Kaos’ baddies—sometimes getting too close to being defeated! Not only will kids be playing with their favorite Skylanders characters, but they will also learn concepts like patience (read: waiting for their turn), strategy, critical thinking, and more. Perfect for summer travel, Skylanders Battlecasters allows kids to experience the fun of their favorite video game on the go, and the cards provide a slim, lightweight alternative to the traditional Skylanders figures and vehicles. Plus, kids can play two quests per day to help them along their journey to defeat Kaos. They can also participate in Daily Spins, which randomly gives players free coins, cards, and characters. With lots of fresh and engaging content, kids will come back to this app again and again.