Skylanders SwapForce Has Invaded Our House

I thought with Carter being just five we might somehow avoid the Skylander craze. He's too young for most video games that don't involve Wii Sports or dancing yet that doesn't matter. In just under two months we've gone from Skylander-free to full-on portal players.

There had been whispers about Skylanders from Carter for the past year as other kids at school would bring in the figures and talk about the game and the characters with funny names.

Then came the announcement a new game was coming in October complete with presale hype. One good-natured Nana later and I'm plugging a portal into our Wii.

Disclaimer for the uninitiated: Skylanders is a brilliant concept that mixes video games and "action" figures so that to advance in the game you need a figure with certain powers, thus requiring additional purchases of between $9.99 and $14.99 each.

This fuels two distinct but no less powerful attributes my son possesses.

1. The need to collect things.

2. Newfound love of video games.

Neither one is particularly becoming. When playing most games against another child - or parent - he likes to talk smack. Luckily, Skylanders is generally a one-person game in our house and he's getting better at it.

The collecting is probably the more difficult situation. Carter pours over the poster that came with the game that shows all the characters you can buy and of course he wants to "Collect them all." Yes, he actually points to the printed words "Collect Them All" to prove to me that it is perfectly acceptable to in fact, collect them all. At 50+ figures you're looking at a good $600 there kid.

Reminder to self,: invent addictive collectables for young kids.

With the holidays and a birthday coming up and to practice his burgeoning writing skills we had Carter write down the names of all the figures he would want in his notebook. A Skylanders notebook he got at Target months before buying the game.

He dutifully sat down in front of the poster and started writing in it.

So that's a positive at least.

There are other positives too. Carter is branching out with friends and they have Skylanders play dates during the week before school, which is afternoon kindergarten so parents have to find something to do with kids five days a week. In winter a lot of those options are of course inside.

Because we have Skylanders for the Wii and Carter is accustomed of standing while playing the active games, he stands, and jumps a bit playing Skylanders too. I'm amazed at how sweaty he gets during a sports game and thankfully he doesn't get that worked up with Skylanders.

Skylanders is also one of the few games where Carter is supportive of Daddy doing well when he gets a rare turn.

And is the game any good?

A Dad's 63-Word Skylanders Swapforce Review: The free-roaming action game is easy to play for even young children and is seemingly endless, leading you to get your money's worth if you have characters of a few different element types. The ability to "swap" the top and bottom of certain characters is indeed novel and even I am impressed with how seamlessly the portal works in integrating into the game.

Grade: B+

I fought bringing the game into our house but now I have warmed up to it. I just hope he gives up on this whole "Collect Them All" mission.