Skylanders Battlegrounds Review

The third Skylanders game to hit iOS is the closet to its console brethren, but not by much. This time around, the action is isometric, real-time combat with two Skylanders versus a horde of trolls, chompies, and other familiar bad guys. The game uses the same graphics engine as the console game as well, and looks amazingly good on the smaller screen.

Battlegrounds isn’t a level-by-level action/ adventure game though. The two current chapters are divided into about ten missions each, but the world map for each is a strange, turn-based affair. The map is actually divided up into hex pieces, and sliding in a direction moves your Skylander from one space to the next. Once moved, the enemies on the map move too. Enemies can frequently be avoided by taking advantage of their movement patterns, but landing in the same square as an enemy starts a battle mode.

Hexed.

Battling is the meat of the game, and even this mechanic feels more like a more typical iOS action/ RPG than a console port. The two Skylanders are controlled by sliding them in a direction or to an enemy, so direct control is a bit sketchy. Sliding from a Skylander to an enemy is supposed to initiate combat, but the AI is so unreliable that we ended up having to manually keep tapping on an enemy to keep our character fighting.

Even when an enemy is attacking a figure, there’s no guarantee the skylander will automatically fight back, so constant handholding turned out to be a necessity. The special moves each character starts with and earns as the game moves on work much better– they auto target well and are very effective, but have a recharge wait between use.

Players also have to manually tap on any treasures and gold that are dropped from fallen enemies, but once the controls are gotten used to, Battlegrounds is fun, if shallow. The problem with the overall game is simply that there isn’t enough of it. There are only two small worlds, which contain constantly repeated battle maps and enemies. There’s no variety to the gameplay either– it’s just mashing down on the same enemies across the same small maps over and over.

The battle of bubbling brook.

Much like the console versions, the big draw is using Skylanders figures and leveling them up. Battlegrounds is available either by itself for $7 or in a portal master set with a Bluetooth portal, three figures, and a treasure chest bonus item for $50. Unfortunately, the game actually only levels up the player and doesn’t use the built up skills and levels of Skylanders figures at all.

The portal works great though, and makes it far easier to use your figures in not just Battlegrounds, but all the iOS Skylanders games. So, for diehard fans, it could be worth the price of admission. The other bright point for Battlegrounds is the terrific look. The game uses the console version’s graphic engine to great effect, making it a gorgeous and colorful feast for the eyes. The audio is taken from the consoles as well, and quite well done.

For the high price, it’s unfortunately hard to recommend Battlegrounds. The game makes great use of the figures and portal of power accessory, but is so short and repetitive that it feels like an incredibly missed opportunity to release a console-quality Skylanders game on a mobile platform. For fans of the series, it’s certainly worth a look, but just don’t expect too much.

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