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Skylanders logo.png
Genre(s)Platform, role-playing,high fantasy
Creator(s)Toys for Bob
Composer(s)Lorne Balfe
Platform(s)Android, iOS, Microsoft Windows, Nintendo 3DS, macOS, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Wii, Wii U, Nintendo Switch, Xbox 360, Xbox One
First releaseSpyro's Adventure
October 13, 2011
Latest releaseRing of Heroes
December 12, 2018

Skylanders is a toys-to-life action-adventure video game series published by Activision.[1][2] Skylanders games are played by placing character figures called the Skylanders on the "Portal of Power", a device that reads the figures' tags through NFC and "imports" the character represented by the figure into the game as a playable character.


The game takes place in a world called Skylands, a realm filled with adventure and floating islands. It is the center of the universe where it is constantly threatened by evil forces who seek to rule Skylands and gain access to all worlds.[3] A band of heroes called the Skylanders use their abilities and machinery to defend their world from various threats, which they have done for generations. They have worked with the Portal Masters in keeping peace and balance in Skylands, battling the forces of evil, and protecting the Core of Light. Kaos, the main antagonist, has destroyed the Core of Light and Skylands is in his hands. It is up to the player to send the Skylanders into the game and stop Kaos. The Skylanders have an unbreakable bond with their Portal Masters. Each Skylander is associated with one of the ten elements of Skylands: Earth, Air, Fire, Water, Magic, Tech, Life, Undead, Light, and Dark. The main plot is the Skylanders going through levels to defeat Kaos, and stop him from ruling over Skylands. The console versions of each game follow identical storylines, while the Nintendo 3DS versions follow stories different from those of the console versions.


Release timeline
2011Spyro's Adventure
2013Swap Force
2014Trap Team

Spyro's Adventure (2011)[edit]

This is the first edition of the Skylanders franchise. There are 32 Skylanders in the game, four Skylanders for all eight elements. Skylanders are able to open gates of their element, which are found throughout the game. Here the main goal of the Skylanders is to restore the core of light that was previously destroyed by Kaos by collecting the Eternal Sources of each element and other components.

Giants (2012)[edit]

Giants is the second installment in the Skylanders series set as a direct sequel to Spyro's Adventure. It introduces a new team of Skylanders called the Giants, massive creatures who were the first Skylanders assembled to stop the reign of Arkeyans. Unlike the other Skylanders, the Giants can lift, throw, and destroy trees and rocks as well. The players use the Giants when Kaos has found a way to reactivate the Arkeyan Conquertron and tries to takeover Skylands by rising the Arkeyans.

Swap Force (2013)[edit]

Swap Force is the third installment in the franchise. Taking place in another part of Skylands called the Cloudbreak Islands, the player takes control of a new group of Skylanders called the Swap Force who hold the ability to swap top and bottom halves and abilities. Together, the Swap Force and the Skylanders fight Kaos and his mother from ruining the performance of Mount Cloudbreak.

Trap Team (2014)[edit]

Trap Team is the fourth installment in the franchise. It introduces the Trap Masters and the Trap mechanic, which allows players to trap in-game enemies in element-specific Elemental Traps which are shards of a special kind of crystal known as Traptanium. The trapped enemies can then be summoned as playable characters for a limited time, except in the main hub, where they can be played for an unlimited amount of time. The Skylanders and the Trap Masters used this trapping advantage to stop Kaos and the Doom Raiders. They also introduced two new elements, those being the Light and Dark elements.

SuperChargers (2015)[edit]

SuperChargers is the fifth installment in the series. It introduces a new group of Skylanders called the SuperChargers who pilot special vehicles (Land, Sky and Sea) that allow the Skylanders to create rifts to travel through, like portals, while stopping Kaos who’s created The Sky Eater powered by The Darkness which has plans of its own. Two characters exclusive to the Nintendo console versions are Mario franchise characters Donkey Kong and Bowser as Turbo Charge Donkey Kong and Hammer Slam Bowser, along with their respective vehicles, the Barrel Blaster and Clown Cruiser. The characters, but not their vehicles, which were made exclusively for the game, also function as amiibo figures. The Wii version of the game is titled Skylanders: SuperChargers Racing and does not have adventure segments from the Wii U and PS3 versions. The plot for this version is where the SuperChargers compete in a race sponsored by Pandergast and the winner will win a snow globe which will grant one wish. The Nintendo 3DS version also carries that same name and likewise focuses on the racing elements only. This was the last game to be released on tablets.

Imaginators (2016)[edit]

A sixth game was released on October 13, 2016, in Australia and New Zealand, on October 14, 2016, in Europe and on October 16, 2016, in North America.[4] In June 2016, Activision announced that the game would be titled Skylanders Imaginators, which allows players to create and customize their own Skylanders called Imaginators. With both theirs and the Senseis help the Skylanders try to stop Kaos who’s using mind magic to create Doomlanders with the help of an ancient Brain. The title was developed by Toys for Bob.[5] Crash Bandicoot and Doctor Neo Cortex are guest stars as playable characters in the game, marking their first appearance in a video game since Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart 2 in 2010.[6] The figures for both were initially exclusive to the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 starter packs (although they are playable on all consoles), but were released later on as a stand-alone double pack. Crash and Cortex appear as part of the Sensei Skylanders whose job is to train the Imaginators.

Version differences[edit]

Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure[edit]

The version of Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure developed by Toys for Bob was designed for the Nintendo Wii, with a HD version made for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC. Many motion-controlled activities were consequentially reassigned button inputs for certain actions. It is also why Skylanders possess only three abilities and cannot jump in the earlier entries, due to the lack of buttons on the Wii Remote.

The Wii version features a New Game Plus option, which allows players to bypass most of the game's cutscenes and dialogue on a new file after beating the game. HD versions, however, require that the player watch most of the cutscenes and listen to all of the dialogue no matter what file is loaded.

On the Wii version, character portraits used in dialogue feature stylistic 2D artwork, whereas HD versions use 3D character models.

There are also a number of mechanical differences. On HD versions of the game, collision mechanics with abilities like 'Hex's Wall of Bones' are different, such that partner Skylanders in co-op mode can be lifted by them and circumvent obstacles.

The Wii, PlayStation 3 and PC versions of Spyro's Adventure feature a wireless portal that includes a USB wireless connector. The portal requires AA batteries. The Xbox 360 version of Spyro's Adventure features a wired portal, an adaptation that was made when testers who were forwarded early copies of the game expressed their frustration with providing the portal with batteries. Every Skylanders installment thereafter featured a wired portal.

The 3DS version, developed by Vicarious Visions, is radically different from the Console and PC versions. The 3DS version has no co-op functionality, and hence the starter pack includes a smaller Portal with an infrared reader that can connect to a 3DS system. The portal is powered with AAA batteries and has a USB port that allows it to function with the console versions of the game. It features a different plot and set of non-playable characters (with the exception of Eon). The three Skylanders included in the starter pack are also different, substituting the Toys for Bob version's 'Spyro', 'Gill Grunt' and 'Trigger Happy' for 'Ignitor', 'Stealth Elf' and 'Dark Spyro', a cosmetic variant of 'Spyro'. Players do not need to keep their Skylanders on the portal at all times like on the console versions, and instead 'load' two Skylanders into the game that they can alternate between, until a new Skylander is loaded in to replace it.


In 2011, Activision released Skylanders Universe, an online browser-based multiplayer game that allowed players to interact with each other in Skylands, play minigames, customise their own island and log their Skylanders collection. Players could connect their portals to their computer to summon their Skylanders, much like in the core series. The service has since been discontinued.

Activision released seven Skylanders spin-off games on mobile devices.[7] These titles include Cloud Patrol, Battlegrounds, Lost Islands, Collection Vault, Trap Team, SuperChargers (mobile port), Battlecast and Ring of Heroes.


Lorne Balfe has composed the soundtracks to all the Skylanders games thus far, while Hans Zimmer composed the main theme.[citation needed] Imaginators does not use an original soundtrack, instead opting for a mix of stock music and pieces from previous games. An official soundtrack for Imaginators was also never released.



A series of books in the Skylanders franchise started with Skylanders: The Machine of Doom that takes place before the events of Spyro's Adventure. It was written by Cavan Scott, who would later write sequels to the novel under the Skylanders: The Mask of Power series, which also serve as prequels to Spyro's Adventure.

Art Books[edit]

Two art books, Strata: The Art of Skylanders: Swap Force and Clutch: The Art of Skylanders: Superchargers, were produced by Vicarious Visions. As employee exclusives, the only way to obtain them is through online sellers or charity events.

IDW Publishing[edit]

IDW Publishing created a comic series associated with the Skylanders franchise that has events that take place in between the games.[8] The series was reportedly cancelled in order to not conflict with Skylanders Academy, which used a different canon.

TV series[edit]

In 2016, it was announced that Activision Blizzard Studios would produce an animated television series based on Skylanders.[9] The first season debuted on Netflix on October 28, 2016, the second season on October 6, 2017, and the third and final season premiered on September 28, 2018.[10][11] On April 30, 2019, it was announced that Skylanders Academy was cancelled.[12]

Possible film[edit]

Activision has commented on the possibility of a movie based on the Skylanders reboot as something that they could look into in the future.[13] On May 6, 2014, Activision CEO Eric Hirshberg announced that the Activision team had an interest in "jumping on the film adaptation bandwagon" and adapting Skylanders into a film.[14]


Aggregate review scores
Game Metacritic
Spyro's Adventure (3DS) 82[15]
(Wii) 81[16]
(X360) 78[17]
(PS3) 77[18]
Giants (X360) 80[19]
(Wii U) 80[20]
(Wii) 78[21]
(PS3) 77[22]
(3DS) 59[23]
Swap Force (Wii U) 89[24]
(X360) 83[25]
(PS3) 83[26]
(PS4) 79[27]
(3DS) 68[28]
Trap Team (Wii U) 86[29]
(XONE) 78[30]
(PS4) 78[31]
SuperChargers (Wii U) 87[32]
(XONE) 76[33]
(PS4) 81[34]
Imaginators (Wii U) 77[35]
(XONE) 78[36]
(PS4) 79[37]
(NS) 72[38]

Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure received generally favorable reviews, many praising the technological use of the "Portal of Power". Although some reviewers criticized the absence of online multiplayer, the toys for the Skylanders were widely praised. Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure was nominated for two Toy Industry Association awards: "Game of the Year" and "Innovative Toy of the Year."[39]

Skylanders Giants was released to generally positive reviews. However, the reviews from GameRankings and Metacritic were slightly lower than that of the previous game on some platforms. Cheat Code Central gave the game 9.2/10 and commented that "it feels like someone finally got everything right when creating a sequel," and praising the ability to use the Skylanders toys from the first game in the second.

Skylanders: Swap Force was released to very positive reviews, with the reviews from GameRankings and Metacritic being the highest and most genuinely positive of the series so far across all platforms. Gaming website Quarter To Three gave both the Wii U and Xbox 360 a perfect score of 5/5. Video Game website Gaming Age gave the PlayStation 3 version the highest grade of an "A" and further commented that "Whether you’re a Skylanders fan or a gamer who’s looking for a charming and unique family-friendly game series to get into, Skylanders SWAP Force comes highly recommended."

Skylanders: Trap Team was released to positive reviews. However, the reviews from GameRankings and Metacritic were slightly lower than that of the previous game on most platforms with only the IOS/Tablet version receiving the highest score.

Skylanders: SuperChargers received positive reviews. The reviews from GameRankings and Metacritic were better than the previous game on most Platforms, with the exception of the Xbox One version slightly lower and the Wii and iOS versions having the highest scores.

Skylanders: Imaginators received positive reviews on Metacritic, though the scores for the Wii U and PlayStation 4 editions were lower than those of the previous game.

As of February 2015, the Skylanders series has crossed the threshold of $3 billion in sales, with 175 million toys sold since 2011, making the series one of the top 20 highest-selling video game franchises of all time.[40][41] As of 2015, over 250 million toys were sold.[42] As of 2016, over 300 million toys have been sold and the franchise has become the 11th biggest console franchise of all time.[43]


  1. ^ Martens, Todd. "Toys-to-life gaming at E3 is set to land big, but t all child's play". LA Times. Retrieved June 14, 2015.
  2. ^ Williams, Katie (May 4, 2015). "Toys-To-Life Are Gaming's Hottest-selling Accessory of 2015". IGN. Retrieved June 14, 2015.
  3. ^ Skylanders: The Machine of Doom, page 43
  4. ^ Scalzo, John. "Activision confirms Skylanders 6, new Call of Duty from Infinity Ward, Destiny expansion in 2016; Destiny 2 coming in 2017". Warpzoned. Retrieved February 11, 2016.
  5. ^ Crecente, Brian (June 1, 2016). "Skylanders Imaginators Hands Hero Creation Over To Players". Polygon. Retrieved June 1, 2016.
  6. ^ Bradley, Dan (June 14, 2016). "Crash Bandicoot Joins Skylanders Imaginators: See the Toy and Trailer". TheHDRoom.
  7. ^ "Skylanders Tablet Mobile Games and Apps". Retrieved February 22, 2016.
  8. ^ "Skylanders". IDW Publishing. Retrieved February 22, 2016.
  9. ^ "Netflix Kids Show Programming Schedule Revealed". Variety. June 16, 2016.
  10. ^ "Netflix's Skylanders Academy series to premiere in October". Entertainment Weekly. September 20, 2016.
  11. ^ Desk, TV News. "SKYLANDERS ACADEMY Season 2 Debuts on Netflix, 10/6".
  12. ^ Moore, Kasey. "'Skylanders Academy' not returning for Season 4 at Netflix". What's On Netflix. Retrieved May 1, 2019.
  13. ^ "Skylanders movie and TV series is a possibility, says Activision". June 15, 2012. Retrieved June 15, 2012.
  14. ^ "Activision Is Interested in Making a Skylanders Movie". May 6, 2014. Retrieved May 9, 2014.
  15. ^ "Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved October 1, 2013.
  16. ^ "Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved October 1, 2013.
  17. ^ "Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved October 1, 2013.
  18. ^ "Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved October 1, 2013.
  19. ^ "Skylanders: Giants Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved October 1, 2013.
  20. ^ "Skylanders: Giants Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved October 1, 2013.
  21. ^ "Skylanders: Giants Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved October 1, 2013.
  22. ^ "Skylanders: Giants Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved October 1, 2013.
  23. ^ "Skylanders: Giants Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved October 1, 2013.
  24. ^ "Skylanders: Swap Force Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved October 1, 2013.
  25. ^ "Skylanders: Swap Force Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved October 1, 2013.
  26. ^ "Skylanders: Swap Force Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved October 1, 2013.
  27. ^ "Skylanders: Swap Force Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved October 1, 2013.
  28. ^ "Skylanders: Swap Force Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved October 1, 2013.
  29. ^ "Skylanders: Trap Team Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved October 1, 2013.
  30. ^ "Skylanders: Trap Team Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved October 1, 2013.
  31. ^ "Skylanders: Trap Team Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved October 1, 2013.
  32. ^ "Skylanders: SuperChargers Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved October 1, 2013.
  33. ^ "Skylanders: SuperChargers Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved October 1, 2013.
  34. ^ "Skylanders: SuperChargers Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved October 1, 2013.
  35. ^ "Skylanders: Imaginators Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved December 6, 2020.
  36. ^ "Skylanders: Imaginators Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved December 6, 2020.
  37. ^ "Skylanders: Imaginators Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved December 6, 2020.
  38. ^ "Skylanders: Imaginators Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved December 6, 2020.
  39. ^ Appell, Adrienne. "Toy Industry Unveils Nominees for 2012 Toy of the Year (TOTY) Awards; Announces Inductees into Toy Industry Hall of Fame". Toy Industry Association. Archived from the original on June 7, 2012. Retrieved November 15, 2018.
  40. ^ Dyer, Mitch. "Skylanders in 'Top 20' Game Franchises Ever, 175 Million Toys Sold". IGN.
  41. ^ Futter, Mike (February 5, 2015). "Skylanders Is Now A $3 Billion Franchise". Retrieved February 22, 2016.
  42. ^ Makuch, Eddie (June 3, 2015). "Skylanders Reaches 250 Million Toys Sold, New Game Announced". GameSpot. Retrieved June 3, 2015.
  43. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on October 4, 2017. Retrieved October 27, 2017.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

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