My top ten favorite games of the year, presented in ascending order each day leading into the holidays. Look for my full Top Ten list with categories and awards on December 24!
#9 Skylanders Imaginators
I’ve been playing Skylanders games since the 3rd one back in 2013. I’ve really enjoyed the series’ simple 3rd person action gameplay and huge variety of powers and play styles with dozens of figures.
Previously I would grab the Skylanders games on sale months after release and clean up on deals and BOGO offers. But with Skylanders Imaginators, the sixth in the series, I was ready to jump in at launch. Now it’s the first Skylanders game to make my Game of the Year list.
More than anything else, this was the game my daughter was finally old enough to really enjoy. Any game that can have us play together, and be a legitimately fun game to play, garners high praise from me.
Each Skylanders game features a major gimmick that colors the plot, figures, and gameplay. Skylanders Imaginators has the best gimmick since Swap Force, letting you fully create your own custom Skylander. Of course you have to purchase the Creation Crystals and then permanently choose a weapon class before you can even try it out. But the entire game turns into a loot-based action-RPG as you acquire new body parts, weapons, and gear for your custom creations, and it all works amazingly well.
The new figures are also the best I’ve ever seen. The Senseis and former villains are all well-designed and a ton of fun to play, from a tornado-spewing falconer to the majestic Golden Queen herself. For the first time in the series I never felt the urge to break out my old figures (and I own well over 50).
Standard gameplay is pretty much the same, but it’s been carefully refined and perfected over the years. There’s just the right amount of simple block puzzles, arena fights, and mini-games in each level. My favorite new element was an overland map that bridges each level together – and adds its own secret paths and bonus levels. It’s a ton of fun to traverse.
But as I said, the real winner was being able to play cooperatively with my four year old daughter. There’s not a whole lot of games that both of us can enjoy together and succeed equally. She loved making her own characters and completely kicking ass with them. A few of the levels required an annoying amount of tricky jumps that frustrated her, but for the most part we had a blast. We still play in the post-game, running through levels and trying new figures and challenges.
As a veteran of the series who’s been mildly disappointed in the last two offerings, I was very pleased with Skylanders Imaginators. I’m not sure if the series can continue along this trajectory given how much the Imaginator concept changed the gameplay for the better, but for now Skylanders Imaginators is easily the best of the series.