The freemium town-building genre is a love it or hate thing. When Capcom released Smurfs’ Village, plenty of people railed at the excessive and in-your-face micro-transaction focus, and for good reason. It’s entirely possible to play these games without spending a cent– provided you don’t mind waiting hours for a new building– but the developers are counting on the players’ impatience. Activision is busily building and expanding their amazingly successful Skylanders line, so it’s not surprising to see them adapting the town-building style to the franchise.
Lost Islands gives players the chance to build villages in skyland in a very familiar way. Anyone who has played any of the endless stream of town-building games will be instantly at home here. The game doesn’t attempt to mess with the tried and true formula, but it does infuse the charming characters and atmosphere of the Skylanders game into the mix.
Gold and hero points, floating in the air.
So, as clichÃ©d as it sounds, players who like this sort of game will find plenty of appeal in Lost Islands. This is a great looking game. The islands you build are beautifully rendered, vivid and colorful. There’s a huge variety of things to build, characters to interact with, and money-earning missions to perform. Most importantly, there are skylanders. For those who already have a collection of the figures, you can input the code that came with them and use the characters in the game.
Unfortunately, you can’t just input the code or scan the symbol. Instead, you’ll have to search for the specific character in the game’s character roster and then enter the code, which is a little clunky. The game does reward players with extra goodies for each new character they add, making it worth the effort. The more skylanders in the game’s collection, the more adventures they can be sent on, and the more gold you’ll earn. It’s important to note that there’s no action here or mini-games.
All great empires start as tiny, thinly populated towns.
Skylander missions are totally automatic. Send them off on a balloon to complete a goal and all there is to do is manage the rest of the village and await their return to reap the golden rewards. As usual, any task can be instantly completed by using a gem. The game provides quite a few to new players, but they go fast if you’re impatient and cost real money to acquire.
Lost Islands starts off in such a way to ensure that you won’t need gems immediately, although the tutorial requires you to spend some. Most early tasks only take a couple minutes, but as the game progresses, these times lengthen and the urge to buy shortcuts gets greater and greater.
Actually building villages on the various islands is still relatively fun for the most part. The use of Skylanders characters adds a lot of charm to the otherwise familiar gameplay, and as far as this sort of game goes, Lost Islands is a solid release. Unfortunately, that’s the crux of the problem– strip away the Skylanders and this is a remarkably generic game with little innovation beyond its license. That might not be a problem for fans of the genre, but it’s still a little disappointing.