Tag Archives: skylanders

Video Games to Play when You’re Home Alone, Or Not

Nicer weather is on the way in some parts of the country, but what to do if you find yourself snowed- or rained in? Check out these new video games to play with the kids—and the devices to play them on.

Skylanders Imaginators

skylanders imaginatorThis is the newest in the proud Skylanders line, which uses real-life toy figures that enter the on-screen game through a “portal.” As always, the story follows the Skylanders as they try to defeat the evil Kaos in his latest plan to destroy Skyland. Kaos has found a new power called “Mind Magic,” and is creating an army of Doomlanders. The leader of the good guys is Eon, who calls upon Portal Masters (that’s you!) to battle Kaos and his army. To help, there are Senseis who give players new powers that you can use to build and equip your Imaginators. If you’ve got the new Nintendo Switch (more on that below), you’ll be able to save your Skylanders figures’ stats and abilities to the system so you can play Skylanders on the go, without having to schlep the figures or the portal.

One of the most amazing features we’ve seen in a while is the new Skylanders Creator app, which you download from the iOS or Android store, and use to create a unique Imaginator (or you can transfer one from the Skylanders Imaginators console game to the app). The whole process takes only a few minutes. Best of all, your creation will be mailed to you! www.skylanders.com/video-games/skylanders-imaginators

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High-Tech, Low-Tech, and No-Tech Halloween Fun

There are all sorts of ways for kids to be creative: high-tech, low-tech, or no-tech. Here are a few of our current favorites that fit into at least one of those categories.

skyanders imaginatorsSkylanders Imaginators

This brand new addition to the Skylanders universe is the best one yet. Once again, the evil Kaos is causing problems in Skyland, and Eon needs your help to defeat him. With Imaginators, players can create their own Skylanders, customizing their appearance, sounds, and even appendages. With the help of “senseis” who specialize in one of ten different techniques, you can also train your Skylander to defeat Kaos and his minions. You create your Skylander on the fly within the game through a series of easy-to-navigate menus. Each level is also littered with items that can be used to build and rebuild your character. The gameplay is your typical hack and slash, where exploration is encouraged and villains are colorful and unique. Each level has a theme and an end boss who must be defeated to progress. Imaginators is compatible with all pervious Skylanders. The starter set includes a portal, the game itself, and at least two senseis and an Imaginator crystal to make (and save) your own Skylander. It retails for $74.99 and is available nationwide.

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Hopping Toward Easter

Are you ready for the Easter Bunny to hop into your house? Fill your little ones’ baskets (and tummies) with these fun, spring items.

Shakin Eggs (HABA USA)

Haba EggsThese eggs are perfect for baskets and never go bad. The kids will love them—not only for their bright colors, but also for the fun sounds they make. Each box contains a set of five colored beech wood eggs (and yes, the paint is safe and non-toxic, since we all know kiddies are going to try to put them into their mouths). Each egg makes a different sound (one jingles, another rattles, and so on), so your little bunny can make plenty of seasonal music. Recommended for ages 2 and up, but we think they’re okay for younger kids as well, since they’re too big to fit in the mouth and there are no small parts. About $20 at a retailer near you or at http://www.habausa.com

Cheekeez Bunny and Lamb (Aurora)

Aurora plushNo basket is complete without a sweet, fluffy toy, and Aurora makes some high quality plush toys that kids of all ages will want to cuddle up with year round. Among our faves for this season, though, are the Cheekeez Bunny ($9) and the oh-so-soft Lamb ($15.50). Available at gift stores like Hallmark or at http://www.auroragift.com/

Limited Edition Easter Toys (Skylanders)

Skylanders limited editionFor your gamer, Skylanders has released two limited edition, exclusive Easter themed toys for the Skylanders SuperChargers game. Spring Ahead Dive Bomber ($14.99) is a new vehicle that the Skylanders have disguised as an Easter egg to protect their bounty! The Skylanders figures can also interact and ride inside the Bomber within the game, adding a new layer of fun. Also out for the holiday is Eggcited Thrillipede ($12.99) who, with an extra set of arms, is the reigning Dragon Egg Toss Champion. Maybe this year, he’ll defend his title with Easter Eggs. Available at Game Stop, Toys R Us, and other stores that carry video games.

Gift Baskets (GourmetGiftBaskets.com)

Easter-Bunny-Gift-Basket-ClassicIf you’re not in the mood to create your own basket, you ran out of time, or your little chicks live far from you, not to worry! You can send your hugs and chocolate kisses by mail and if you order soon, they’ll get there in time for Easter. GourmetGiftBaskets.com has a huge selection of pre-made baskets that will please any gift-ee. For example, there’s the Gift Basket for Men, Premium Wine Spa Gift Basket, Sugar Free Gift Basket (for the diabetic in your life), Happy Easter Brownie Cake, and lots more. For families with more than one child, check out the Double-Bunny Easter Basket, which comes with two of everything: candies, chocolate bunnies, and, of course, stuffed toys. Prices vary. Visit www.GourmetGiftBaskets.com

Inspiring Ideas (Tastefully Simple)

tastefully simpleIf you want to make sure your special Easter celebration comes off perfectly, but you maybe aren’t the whiz in the kitchen you wish you were, you’ll find plenty of ideas, menus, recipes, and packages that will ensure that everything goes according to plan. You’ll still need to pick up the ham (or whatever you’re making) and the fresh items, but Tastefully Simple will guide you through every step of the planning, shopping, and cooking process. They’ve got plenty of inspiration, tutorials for making amazing-looking food that you’re definitely going to want to share on Instagram—even if you’re no Martha Stewart—and lots of time saving mixes for brownies, truffles, and more. You’re going to love the way your food turns out. https://www.tastefullysimple.com

Time to Bring It on In

As the days grow shorter and chillier, you and the family are going to be spending more time indoors. This week, we look at some games that will keep kids and kids-at-heart entertained at home or on the road.

chibi robo zip lashChibi Robo Zip Lash (Nintendo)
Aliens have invaded and stolen all the snacks. As Chibi Robo, your job is to move through the game, using your cord and plug to take out enemies (ouch) and obstacles. Plug that cord in and you can power up to Fire Chibi-Robo and Ice Chibi-Robo, both of whom add some really fun elements to the game. For the most part, game play is of the 2D-platforming variety. But Chibi also has amiibo support. Just tap Chibi on your console and you can unlock Super Chibi Robo, collect in-game figurines, and open bonus levels. Available by itself ($29.99) or in a game bundle ($39.99). http://www.nintendo.com/

animal crossoing happy home designerAnimal Crossing Happy Home Designer
In the latest incarnation of Animal Crossing, players help design their very own town, including exteriors, interiors, and gardens. In the process, they’ll be helping the sometimes-design-impaired locals of Animal Town with their artistic challenges. Each of those challenges is different and players need to use their own personal style to accommodate the clients’ requests. Finish one challenges and you’re on to the next one. With hundreds of clients to work with, the game can be as long or as short as you’d like. Happy Home Designer also supports the new amiibo cards (similar to the amiibo figurines, but not actual toys), which unlock special characters who serve up even more design challenges. This is a great intro to gaming for young kids or for adults who’ve been waiting for something easy. Available everywhere either as a stand-alone or part of a bundle that includes a specially designed 3DS XL. http://animal-crossing.com/

skylanders superchargersSkylanders SuperChargers (Skylanders)
How do you put a new fresh face onto a game that’s already been updated four times? Easy: SuperCharge it! Skyland is in trouble (what a surprise) and Kaos is at it again (really?) This time, your Skylanders can get off their feet and into a vehicle. Then, you’re off, following race tracks or flying through the air, trying to defeat Kaos’s Doom Station of Ultimate Doomstruction. There are plenty of obstacles along the way, as well as a new currency, Gearbits, which allows you to buy supercool upgrades for your vehicle. In addition to other new characters, there are Donkey and Bowser figurines that you can use in Skyland or as amiibos in other games. It’s like getting two toys in one. Available everywhere for Wii U, Playstation 3, Playstation 4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One for about $75. https://www.skylanders.com/

super mario maker nintendoSuper Mario Maker (Nintendo)
If you’ve ever been playing a Super Mario game and thought, “I could do better than that,” now’s your chance to show your stuff. In this game, players actually create new levels that they can share with friends or other players around the world. It’s fun and simple, but beware: creating the perfect level is definitely not easy. We suggest that you try one of your own, then spend some time exploring what other players have created. You’ll be amazed at the variety, from easy or super hard to plain or beautiful. Super Mario Maker is amiibo compatible, so if you put your Sonic the Hedgehog figure on the controller, Mario changes to Sonic and the background music changes accordingly. For Wii U. $59.99 at retail stores or the Nintendo eShop. http://www.nintendo.com/

Game On!

Looking to connect with the kids in a virtual way, but still keep a foot in the “real world”? Check out these fun systems and games, perfect for rainy days, nights, or just hangin’ out.

OUYA
ouyaThis sleek, new, Android 4.1 Jelly Bean-powered micro-console started life as a Kickstarter campaign, got funded quickly, and hasn’t looked back since. There are more than 400 games available for OUYA, ranging from racing, to role-play, to action—every one of which you can try for free, which means never having to shell out good money for a not-so-good game. Some games stay free after the trial period, others you’ll have to buy. Aside from taking a long time for the initial setup, OUYA works flawlessly, and its open-source platform makes it easy to upgrade and add on later. Comes with a one Bluetooth wireless controller. Additional controllers (sold separately) are easy to pair to the console. $99.00. OUYA.tv

Nintendo 2DS
nintendo 2dsFrom the name, one might think that the 2DS would have preceded the 3DS, but it’s actually Nintendo’s latest and greatest handheld console. The new 2DS has dispensed with the 3DS’s hinge, which makes it harder to break. And its slight wedge shape gives it a tablet-like look and feel. The 2DS can play most DS games, all 3DS games (minus the 3D effect), including Pokemon X and Y and The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds. So if you’re a first-timer and are looking to jump into handhelds, this is a high-entertainment-value, relatively inexpensive way to go. Comes with an SD card, wall adapter, stylus, AR cards, and access to the Nintendo eShop. $129.99. nintendo.com

Pokemon
pokemon x and yPokemon have been around since 1996, and they seem to get better—and more popular—every year. The new Pokemon X and Pokemon Y keep the familiar role-play elements, leveling up, vast territory to explore, grand story line, and the fun of collecting cute little critters. But now there are more battles, more evolution, and tons more features. Start by picking a gender and then one of three starter Pokemon: Chespin (grass type), Fennekin (fire type), or Froakie (water type). As the game progresses, you’ll battle other trainers and Pokemon. For younger kids or those who just want to skip the battles and go right to the roleplaying, this is a series of mini-games, where players interact directly with the Pokemon—petting, giving treats and playing with them. Available in the 3DS/2DS shop for about $39.99. nintendo.com

Skylanders Swap Force
skylanders swap forceThe Skylanders are invading again, but this time they’re coming apart at the seams. Skylanders Swap Force is the newest Skylanders game and the main feature is that you can create your own characters by swapping the tops and bottoms of existing ones. For example, if one of your characters has an arm cannon and tire feet but you’d rather have the tentacle feet from another character, you can make the switch. Small magnets keep the tops and bottoms of the new figures together during play, but easily pull apart whenever you want. Combining characteristics and creating new characters opens up new areas in the game. The 16 Swap Force characters create 250 combinations, 16 new Core characters, 8 LightCore characters, and more. And not to worry, all your old ones—including Giants—will work with Swap Force.  $74.99 for starter packs, $14.99 for SWAP Force figures, and $9.99 for Core figures. skylanders.com

A final note: As we move into the Holiday season, be sure to check the Entertainment Software Rating Board (esrb.org) for reliable, bias-free ratings and game reviews.