This morning Toys'R'Us locations across the US start selling Rubble Rouser and Stink Bomb, the two Skylanders toys needed to 100 per cent complete levels in a game released three months ago. What?
First, a little background for those who've not played Skylanders: Swap Force, the latest entry in Activision's incredibly lucrative marriage of toys and video games. It's a platforming adventure game in which players use a plastic portal plugged into their game console's USB port to translate physical toys placed upon it into playable characters. It's really quite good, as platformers go.
The toys are broken up into elemental groups -- Fire, Water, Air, Earth, Life, Undead, Tech and Magic. Scattered throughout the game levels are gates that only open when a character of the corresponding element is present -- a fire gate requires a fire Skylander.
Swap Force adds a couple of new twists to the series' formula. For one, special Swap Force characters can switch their tops and bottoms with each other, leading to dual-element combinations, used to unlock dual-element gates. Each Swap Force character also has one of eight travel powers -- digging, teleporting, climbing, spinning, rolling, flying and sneaking. These powers unlock corresponding mini-games scattered throughout the levels.
In order to 100 per cent a level in Skylanders: Swap Force, which rewards a player with rank-enhancing stars, every secret area needs to be unlocked, every secret area found. Until now, that was not possible.
Rubble Rouser is the first Earth-based Swap Force character. That means that any dual-element gate requiring Earth could not be opened until the character was released. Players could at least get around this by playing a co-op game -- those dual-element gates can also be unlocked by two separate Skylanders.
Stink Bomb, a green skunk ninja, is the first sneaking Skylander. No sneaking mini-games could be unlocked in Swap Force until now. Without unlocking those areas and earning the rewards for completing them, any level with a sneaking challenge in place could not be completed.
What an odd way to release a toy-dependent video game. What a delightfully devious way to keep parents, childrens, and non-children fans chomping at the bit for new figures.
Stink Bomb and Rubble Rouser, along with Light Core Whamshell and Countdown and new Adventure and Battle Packs should be available at Toys'R'Us stores in limited quantities this morning.