Skylanders is an ever changing universe and with each new game comes a ton of new fans. I get asked questions all of the time from parents and new players who want to understand how the game works. So I decided it was about time that I created a Skylanders FAQ about the Skylanders series to help new fans understand the games and how they interact with each other. (Last updated August 2017.)
Skylanders Spyros Adventure – Skylanders Spyro’s Adventure was released by Activision on October 16, 2011 for the Xbox 360, PS3, Wii and 3DS. The 3DS version features a different story with different gameplay than it’s console counter part. This is the first game in the series and features 32 characters. There are also alternate variants of characters to collect, including “Legendary”, “Dark”, and “Minis”. The total of all of the characters and special variants totals 41 characters. There are also some extremely rare chase variants which would randomly show up in a few stores that sold Skylanders. You can learn more about the rare and unnamed variants here. We have decided not to collect those characters because they can go for up to $300 each.
Skylanders Giants – Skylanders Giants was released by Activision on October 21, 2012 (in the US) for the Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, and 3DS. A Wii U version was released a month later, and once again the 3DS version contains a unique story with different gameplay. Giants is the second game in the series and features 40 different characters. Of these 40 characters only 16 are brand new and 8 of those are the “Giant” type character. The other 8 new characters are the smaller characters called “Core” characters. The remaining 24 characters are returning characters from Spyro’s Adventure. These characters are referred to as “Series 2” characters since they have the same attacks as they did in Spyro’s Adventure but they now have new poses for their toy figures. The “Giants” are the focus of the game and are two to three times larger than their core friends. They also have abilities in game that the core characters do not have. They can pick up boulders, perform feats of strength, and drop through weak floors on some levels. Since the “Giant” characters are bigger, those toys cost slightly more than the “core” characters. Giants also introduced “Lightcore” characters for the first time. These special characters have parts that will light up when put on the portal. There are 8 “Lightcore” characters in Giants and each also had a normal “non-lightcore” version. Some characters have alternate named variants that will show up in the game as their named variant. An example would be Molten Hot Dog which was an alternate named variant of Hot Dog. “Legendary” and “Mini” figures returned in Giants, but “Dark” alternate versions did not. In total, there are 66 characters to collect.
Skylanders Swap Force – Skylanders Swap Force was released by Activision in the US on October 13th, 2013 (in the U.S.) for the PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, Wii U, and 3DS. A month later it would also come to the brand new Xbox One and PS4 systems. The 3DS version once again is a unique version with different gameplay and story than the console version. Swap Force is the third game in the series and features 48 new characters between the “Swap Force” (16), new “Core” (16), and returning “Core”(16). The “Swap Force” Skylanders are the main focus of the game. They are larger than the “core” characters but slightly smaller than the “Giants”. Their unique ability is that you can split them apart and then mix and match their top and bottom halves. This means that there are 256 unique combinations of “Swap Force” characters. Each “Swap Force” character has attacks associated with the top and bottom halves. They also have a specific movement ability like climbing or spinning. Players can swap the Skylander’s halves to create a perfect combination of attacks and movement that they want to play with. “Legendary” and “Lightcore” characters are back, as are the special named variant characters. The “Nitro” special variant debuted in Swap Force and the “Dark” alternate versions returned when a “Dark Collectors Edition” of the game was announced shortly before release. This version of the game comes with “Dark” versions of all of the Skylanders that came with the normal edition of the game. Add up all of the new characters and variants, and you have the largest single game collection yet at 75 characters!
Skylanders Trap Team – Skylanders Trap Team was released October 5th 2014 for the Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS4, PS3, Wii U, Wii and 3DS with the 3DS version having a different story and gameplay than the console version. There are 57 base characters introduced with Trap Team which brakes down to the new “Trap Master” characters (18), new “Core” characters (18), “Minis” (16), and returning “Core”(5). The “Trap Masters” are the new focus with larger figures that are about the same size as the “Swap Force” characters. These characters wield large Traptanium weapons which allow them to trap villains into Traptanium traps. So in addition to collecting characters, there are also over 50 different traps to collect. Unlike the characters though, you only need one trap per element to be able to capture and play with any villain. Each element type though has six different toy variants of the trap. The variant (shape) of the trap doesn’t matter for the gameplay. Caught villains can be loaded into a trap before playing a level. During gameplay, players can hit a button that will switch the current Skylander for the villain that was loaded into a trap. Villains only have a couple attacks/abilities but there are 51 villains that can be caught and played with including Kaos. Minis were re-introduced in Trap Team, and this time they are actually playable with the same attacks as their larger counterparts. Until this game, Mini’s were just support characters that would follow you around for a short time and help you like a magical item. Another “Dark Collectors Edition” of the game was released with alternate “Dark” variants of the starter pack characters. Trap Team also introduced two new elements into the game with the Light and Dark Elements. Don’t confuse the “Dark” alternate (Paint) variant of a Skylander with a Dark element Skylander. “Dark” (Paint) variants retain the element they normally have (ie Fire, Water, Earth, etc…). Legendary and Nitro alternate versions returned, but the Lightcore characters did not. Between all of the new characters, minis, and alternate versions, there are 71 characters to collect.
Skylanders SuperChargers – Skylanders SuperChargers is the fifth game in the series and was released September 20th 2015 for the Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS4, PS3 and Wii U. There was an alternate game called Skylanders SuperChargers Racing released on the Wii and 3DS. This game had a different story line and only featured racing with no adventure mode. The Wii could not handle the increased graphics of the other console versions and therefore got the 3DS version of the game instead. SuperChargers introduced only 20 new Skylanders and 20 Vehicles. Twelve of the Skylanders are brand new, but eight are returning characters. Two of the Twelve new Skylanders are exclusive to the Nintendo versions of the game and are well known Nintendo characters. Hammer Slam Bowser, and Turbo Charge Donkey Kong are a special Skyladnder/Amiibo figures that will only work on the Wii U, Wii and 3DS versions of the game. The returning Skylanders in SuperCharagers behave differently than in years past. These are “SuperCharger” versions of the characters which contain a brand new set of attacks. Because of this, these returning characters are NOT able to be used in older games. The draw of Skylanders SuperChargers are the new vehicles. These vehicle toys are either of the Land, Sea or Sky variety. Most of the toys have moving parts and can be played with outside of the Skylanders game. When combined in the game with the correct Skylander, the pair is considered to be “SuperCharged” and will have increased power and stats. Once again there are no new “Lightcore” characters in SuperChargers, but we did see the introduction of a new special painted variant. The “Power Blue” variants debuted to bring awareness to Autism. These characters are special Blue and White versions of existing “SuperChargers” and appear in the game as their named “Power Blue” variant. When you add these to the “Dark” alternate variants, special named variants, “Legendary” and “Nitro” variants there are a total of 65 characters and vehicles to collect.
Skylanders Imaginators – Skylanders Imaginators is the sixth and possibly the last game in the series. It was released on October 13th, 2016 for the Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS4, PS3, Wii U, and later it was also released on the Nintendo Switch. There was NO handheld version of the game developed which is one of the reasons people think the series is over. There were a total of 31 new Skylander Characters introduced as figures, but there are 44 figures if you include the special named variants. 20 of the Skylanders were brand new Skylanders, 10 were returning villains who have been reformed into Skylanders. All 10 were trappable in Trap Team, but now have their own figures. And then there is Kaos, the ultimate “villain” gets his own Skylander figure finally. However, it’s not really Kaos, but a clone of Kaos which has turned on the “real” Kaos in order to try and get world domination. The main innovation of Imaginators was a new type of Skylander called an Imaginator. An Imaginator is a Skylander that is created by the portal master using hundreds of different body, weapon, and armor parts. The number of different combinations that can be made are almost limitless. The Imaginator is then stored in a special crystal which can then be transported like any other Skylander between games and systems. Imaginators give fans the ability to create the Skylander of their dreams. It’s an awesome concept. All Skylanders from previous games will work in Imaginators, however, since all 31 Imaginators are new characters, none of them will work in any of the older games.
Any character bought for a game, will always work in any future game. So a Giants character will work just fine in Swap Force, Trap Team and SuperChargers. However, a Giants character will NOT always work in Spyro’s Adventure. That is the best and easiest rule to remember. If the character is from an older game, it will work in the current game and newer but don’t expect the current character to work in an older game. Characters will also work across platforms. This means that you can take a figure that you use on your Xbox game and put him on a portal for a Sony or Nintendo game. There is now one exception to this cross platform compatibility for the figures. SuperChargers introduced Hammer Slam Bowser, and Turbo Charge Donkey Kong. Those two Skylanders and their signature vehicles (the Clown Cruiser and the Barrel Blaster) only work on Nintendo platforms.
There are some characters that will work in older games. For example, if the current character in question had a version in a previous game, then that character will work in any older game until you get to the game where that character debuted. If the character in questions is a special variant of the character (by special color, name, or lightcore ability), then the special look, name and ability of the character will NOT be in the older game. The character will just look and act as they did in the older game. This means that a “Lightcore” character will NOT be “Lightcore” in the older game (though he can still light up on the portal). Did that make sense? Probably not. Here is an example. Love Potion Pop Fizz is a special Valentine’s Day variant of Pop Fizz for Skylanders Trap Team which is the 4th game. The first time there was a Pop Fizz was in Skylanders Giants, the 2nd game. This means that Love Potion Pop Fizz can work in the older Giants and Swap Force games but will not be called “Love Potion Pop Fizz” and will not be pink. Instead he will just be a “special” Pop Fizz and will look like Pop Fizz did in the older games. Also, he will NOT work in Spyro’s Adventure since that game is older than the game in which Pop Fizz debuted (Giants). Love Potion Pop Fizz WILL work in SuperChargers and WILL appear as “Love Potion Pop Fizz”. Unfortunately, he will NOT be able gain the “SuperCharged” bonus even if you pair him up with Pop Fizz’s signature vehicle the Soda Skimmer since he is not the “SuperCharger” version – Big Bubble Pop Fizz. Only Big Bubble Pop Fizz will get the “SuperCharged” bonus. Love Potion Pop Fizz should also work in any future Skylanders game…at least until there is another “exception”.
You might wonder, why does this work for some characters and not others? It comes down to what the makers of the game know at the time they are making a game. At the time they made Giants, they already knew about all of the characters they had created in Spyro’s Adventure, so they included the code for all of those characters into the new Giants game. However, when they made Spyro’s Adventure, they did not know yet that they were making a Giants game and what the new Skylanders were going to be for Giants. A new Skylander like Pop Fizz (in Giants) had no version in Spyro’s Adventure and therefore did not have the code in the game to make him work. Ultimately this means he can only work in Giants and newer games. To put it more simply, the code for HOW the characters work (like their attacks) are stored in the game, while the stats of the character (upgrades and levels) are stored in the character. Even if the character knows their stats, they won’t know HOW to work unless the code is included in the game.
Ok, now you are probably feeling pretty good about when you can take a current Skylander into an older game. You grab your Double Dare Trigger Happy from SuperChargers, since you know he was one of the original characters in Spyro’s Adventure. You fire up your Swap Force game and put Double Dare Trigger Happy on the portal, hoping to get him some extra experience…but he doesn’t work? Now you think I’m a liar. Well, that’s because there is one more exception to the rule that allows you to take some characters into older games. That exception is SuperChargers. These characters, even if they had debuted before will NOT work in ANY of the older games. This is because they all got a completely new set of attacks in SuperChargers. They are actually new characters called “SuperChargers”, they are NOT a “Series 2”, “Series 3”, etc. core characters. Since they are technically a new character (ie they have new attacks), they won’t work in older games. Think of all of the “SuperCharger” Skylanders like “Giants”, or “Trap Masters”, or “Swap Force”. It just so happens that this time some of the older characters are also considered to be “SuperChargers”. This should not prevent SuperChargers characters from working in future games, but if there is another “Core” version of Trigger Happy in the next game, I would expect him to go back to the normal attacks of Trigger Happy and NOT have the “SuperCharger” attacks.
Ok to summarize:
- All Skylanders work in the game they came out for and all future games.
- All Skylanders can be used on any system between Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft (except Bowser and Donkey Kong which are specific to Nintendo).
- If any Skylander in a game has an older version of that character in an older game, the current edition will also work in all of the older games until the debut game of that character.
- Any new color, name or ability (ie lightcore) of a current character will NOT be maintained in an older game. The character will revert back to the normal color and abilities of that character in the older game.
- Because SuperCharger characters have a new set of attacks, they are technically “new” characters and will not work in older games even if an older version of that character exists in the older game. They may look like their “core” counterparts, but they are really special “SuperCharger” characters.
Let’s see if I can break this down in order. The first two games Spyro’s Adventure and Giants both use the same portal, so those portals work with either game. Then came Swap Force which required a new portal for the swapable figures. Each figure had two separate chips in them, one in the top half and one in the bottom half. A new portal was required to read these new figures. So the Spyro’s Adventure and Giants portals do not work in Swap Force. The Swap Force portal though did work with the older Giants and Spyro’s Adventure games. Then with Trap Team, a special portal was needed for the traps and a speaker so the villains could talk from the trap. This means that Spyro’s Adventure, Giants and Swap Force portals won’t work with Trap Team. However, the Trap Team portal will work with the first three games. With SuperChargers, they went back to the basics, and any of the old portals will work with SuperChargers. Also, the SuperChargers portal will work with any of the older games….except Trap Team, because the SuperChargers portal does not have a speaker. It does have a place for traps though which allow you to use traps in SuperChargers, but that isn’t enough to allow the portal to work in Trap Team. Also note that since you can use any older portal for SuperChargers if you use one from before Trap Team, you will not get the functionality of the traps which is small in SuperChargers but it does exist.
If that was too confusing, maybe this table will make more sense?
|Portal from game...|
As you can see by the table above, the best portal to have is the Trap Team portal. If you have that portal then it should work for any of the other games.
A lot of the rumors of the cancellation come from retail sources siting various meetings and inventory concerns for new figures. I am more inclined to believe that Skylanders will be back someday in a new game, but I would guess that it might stop being a “Toys to Life” game. Meaning, the cost to produce and keep inventory of the figures might be too high and that there might be a new solution that drops the toys. In any case, the current Skylanders game has been running on pretty much the same formula and engine for six years. Every game needs to reinvent itself from time to time, and thus the yearly cycle needs a break so that a new game with a new engine can be created. Would that be successful? That’s hard to say. All of the Skylander games have been profitable, but the last couple have seen a sharp drop in those profits. So I would be hard pressed to believe that Skylanders is cancelled, but the series needs a reinvention. I firmly believe that we’ll see a new game at some point in the future, but I think it will be a very different game with little or no connection to the older games other than the characters and universe. I expect new gameplay, new rules and a gimmick that doesn’t involve new toys. But that’s just my opinion.