Skylanders is massive. Ask any six-year-old about it and you'll never shut them up about the collectable characters. It is Pokemon for the new generation. And it's actually really fun for adults too.
The third in the now annual series is Skylanders Swap Force, which takes the collectable and usable character model on to another level. As with the first Skylanders game and the sequel Skylanders Giants, Swap Force uses a connected portal to "send" toys into the playable 3D in-game world. Place one of the ever-expanding figures on to the portal and, thanks to an included chip, it is instantly recognised and represented by an on-screen version.
However, where Swap Force differs is that, this time around, you can also customise the toys themselves. Each of the Swap Force characters can be split in two, with a top and bottom half. The player can then put the top of one Skylander on to the bottom of another that they own, effectively making an all-new character with combined skill sets and abilities.
Physically, the new Swap Force toys are well constructed and it's a tech marvel that the portal recognises both, even though they are just connected by a small magnet. In-game, it adds a whole new level of fun, as you attempt to complete puzzles using combinations of Skylanders, trying each to find out what works best.
The game has evolved too, with better graphics - we think - and more complex puzzle action. In a way, it's a bit like Harry Potter books; as the audience grows, so does the gameplay to match their maturity.
As with Giants, Swap Force is backwards compatible with all the previous Skylander figures, so that parents who have already spent a fortune on them can be rest assured that they will get further play. And collectors needn't even worry about taking their prized possessions out of the packaging as the portal will read them when still encased in plastic.
Indeed, Pocket-lint was told that some stores will have a portal set-up so that kids (and adults) can place prospective purchases on them to see how their new character will behave in-game.
Skylanders has been a major success since its launch a couple of years ago. From our demo of the latest chapter, it could get even bigger still.
Skylanders Swap Force will be available from October for Nintendo Wii, Wii U, Xbox 360, PS3 and Nintendo 3DS.