How Skylanders Imaginators Is the Ultimate Skylanders Fantasy

From the very beginning, fans of the Skylanders franchise have wanted one thing: to create their own Skylander from scratch. Toys for Bob, the child-at-heart developer and founder of the series, knows this firsthand, admitting in a presentation I attended at the studio last week, that an almost overwhelming percentage of fan mail they have received over the years has been an appeal for them to turn that Skylander they have in their heads into physical reality. Of course, Toys for Bob would be crazy to make a special Skylander for each and every person; in fact, just keeping all of the existing 300+ Skylanders characters in check is a challenge, both mentally and physically. And thus, character creation in the form of Skylanders Imaginators was born.

While I was able to dabble with Skylanders Imaginators' new character creation system at past appointments, my studio visit was the first time I could put the system through its paces. So far, the system is impressive, giving expedient choices for those who want something quick and dirty, and in-depth choices for those who want to spend a lot more time crafting every painstaking detail of their Skylander of choice. Of course, it's not as comprehensive as, say, the character editor in the WWE 2K games, but there are enough toggles and switches here to let your imagination run free.

First off, you'll need to place a Creation Crystal, as opposed to one of the numerous sensei Skylanders that will also arrive with the launch of the game, on the Portal of Power. Your Skylander's overall physical and elemental powers will be determined by what element your Creation Crystal is (fire, life, water, etc.) and which one of ten classes you choose (Ninja, Smasher, Bazooker). While the crystal's element will also determine your character's default color scheme, you can change that at will. Actually, apart from the character's element and class, you can change anything you want by hopping back into the character creation menu at pretty much any point in the game.

My Skylander, Midnighter, shouts down enemies by warning them about his big guns. He's a keeper!

From there, the sky's the limit (no pun intended). You have free reign to swap out the character's torso, arms, legs, head, and tail, alter his or her (or its) weight and height, and modulate the character's voice and catchphrase. Other gear, accessories, and adornments will give the Skylander various bonuses to attack, defense, health, and speed, with the higher-tiered Epic and Ultimate pieces being the most powerful of the bunch.

As a homage to the superhero of the same name, I crafted an alternate version of Midnighter using a knight's head, some fitted cyborg-like parts, Wolverine-like claws, and a steely color palette. As a Dark-elemental brawler with boxing prowess, he decimated enemies up close and personal with a flurry of jabs and hooks before finishing off with a dash and crushing uppercut. Then for attacks with a bit of distance, I swapped out the uppercut with a blow that could stun foes within a large cone that wanted to explode next to me. If that wasn't enough, my Skylander could also activate an aura boost that grants even more speed and power, and once upgraded to its maximum potential using coins, ends with an explosion all its own.

In terms of progression, your character will have plenty of room for improvement beyond simply leveling them with experience and purchasing upgrades for their powers. Finding chests peppered throughout the game will unlock new parts, with some of them grouped together in handy sets. Purchasing sensei characters and activating them in the game will grant some new boons for all created Skylanders of the sensei's element and lift the overall level cap for created Skylanders overall. Parting with my Skylander at the event was such sweet sorrow, if just because he was decked out with Ultimate -level gear. No worries, my creation, I'll shall see you again (if my wallet can handle it).

And hey, if you don't really care about the character creation, then play it for the Crash Bandicoot cameo. Skylanders Imaginators arrives on October 13, 2016 for PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360, and Wii U.