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If you've never heard of Skylanders, you either don't have children aged 6-10 or you haven't walked down the video game aisle of a supermarket in the last two years. Today Activision has released the first Android entry in the series, Skylanders Cloud Patrol, which integrates with the eponymous toy line. It's available 18 months after the iOS version - try not to act surprised.

The game is a pretty basic tap-and-drag shooter, tasking the player with shooting down trolls from a mounted turret on an airship. Completing levels and collecting loot lets you unlock more Skylanders characters for use in the game, but if you've got the corresponding Skylanders toy you can unlock it immediately. Strangely, it looks like you have to enter the Web Card Code to activate it. Hey Activision, you do know that at least some Android devices use NFC, just like the toys, right?

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To be honest, the main Skylanders franchise is an ingeniously evil way to link video games with expensive plastic toys, getting kids to spend their parents' disposable income on new Happy Meal-type figurines every few months. (Disney just released its own take on the Skylanders system, Disney Infinity.) The console Skylanders games have been well-received because they're decent games in their own right, but you might want to stay away from this one: it's an extremely simple title that's barely connected to the main series in terms of gameplay.

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Even worse, it uses the highly manipulative dual-currency in-app payment system. Completing a stage will grant the player a few coins and very rarely a Gem, but the Gems are required to buy the best equipment and characters from the in-game store. This isn't a free title - you've got to pay two bucks just to get in the door, on top of whatever you've already spent on Skylanders toys. And there are two more Skylanders iOS games from the same developer just waiting in the wings.

If you do decide to buy the game, and especially if you buy it for your kids, make sure you haven't disabled the password check on your Google Play Store purchases. The IAP ranges from $1.99 to a whopping $49.99 for the "Ultra Pack."

Jeremiah Rice
Jeremiah is a US-based blogger who bought a Nexus One the day it came out and never looked back. In his spare time he watches Star Trek, cooks eggs, and completely fails to write novels.
  • Don Pezet

    It has been in the Amazon app store for at least a year now, although it was a Kindle exclusive.

  • buddaboy

    The review title says "Complete With NFC Figure Integration" but in the body says the webcards are used NOT NFC?! So it's basically the same as the iOS version then.

  • Confusedoverthesedumbtoys

    If it uses NFC, can't I scan the toys in stores with my phone without paying for them?

    I'm not interested in the app but it sounds like a poor business model.

    • Sinistar83

      Actually I did this a while back in the store when I heard those figures has NFC. Using NFC Taginfo app https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=at.mroland.android.apps.nfctaginfo and holding my phone to the bottom of the blister-pack and it did detect it as a tag type but obviously did not know what to do with it. :)

      As for the android game, I have not played it yet, but I'm guessing you can just scan figures via NFC to add them to your collection once then then you can go to the store and just scan a bunch of unopened ones. But if it's like the console game you probably need to scan the figures everytime you want to play as that character.

      Maybe someone will mention that in the review.

      • wolfkabal

        There's actually a layer of encryption ontop of the NFC tags as well for actual game interaction. Parts of it have been broken so that you can modify the stats stored on the character, but nothing for cloning, etc.

        And yeah, the web codes are their way of verifying you have possession of the toys.

  • CasperTFG

    We wait this long for Android and it ends up being nothing remotely similar to the original GIANTS or other versions. Some sh*tty point and click. The app description doesn't state whether it interacts with the hardware portal (e.g. Wii). You're able to buy the iOS portal and figurine pack at stores.

    Hey activision: FAIL

  • steelew

    Negative anybody? The skylanders franchise is pretty awesome. My 7 year old and I have had hours of fun together playing this. We have 14 of the toys and more on the way. You can find the figures pretty cheap sometimes and then you get more characters to play with. Toys and a game that's a win in a kids book. Plus there is an online game for the kids too. For all of the people calling this a rip off, this isn't for you, it's for little kids and they seems to love it.