What if the good guys were the bad guys? Yeah, I'd still play that.
Age appropriateness be damned. I absolutely love Skylanders, and I don't care what anyone says. (Except for the 3DS game, which I found mediocre at best.) The gameplay is super fun, I love the whole thing with the portal and the figurine and its reach across multiple platforms is awesome.
Seriously, the whole set-up is genius. I love that you need only a maximum of eight of the figurines (of the 40 or so available) to play (and three are included when you buy a game), and that they're portable across multiple platforms.
(I'm a bit sad that only five of the said characters are girls, because I prefer to play girl characters if they're available, and I'm sure there are lots of people who feel the same way, but this is not a rant about making a game girl-friendly. I am just hoping that someone from Activision sees this.)
And I really admire the adventure packs that give you figurines that unlock levels and items.
It's just ... clever. Stores can't keep the things on shelves.
So, naturally, I spent a large chunk of my long weekend playing Cloud Patrol on the iPad.
It's nothing complicated. Your Skylander flies around in a zeppelin, shooting trolls. There are 37 Skylanders in the game; you start with Trigger Happy, and collect gems to unlock the remaining 36. If you have the Skylander figurines, though, you can enter the web code to unlock a character in the game (see what I mean about cross-platform compatibility?).
So, anyway, you zoom about playing whack-a-troll, and you complete objectives, such as shoot X number of sheep or finish X number of areas to level up.
As I was playing, though, I noticed something quite discomfiting. As you shoot the trolls off their little sky platforms (and often they're doing nothing more horrible than gibbering and pulling faces), they shout something into the void as they fall to a presumably splattery death.
"I can see my house from heeeeeeeeeere!" one will cry.
"Why?" is the plaintive lament from another.
"Tell my wife I love her!" are the last words of another.
Meanwhile, you keep frying sheep with your cannon and picking off trolls one by one.
What if, I thought, we've been misunderstanding the trolls all this time? What if they're just trying to protect those poor sheep from our evil sheep-shootin' ways?
It's almost The Incredibles all over again. Well, except for the clear message that only special people can be special, because Kaos clearly has power, and Syndrome was just an ordinary kid, so the classist subtext is missing.
But what if the Skylanders are the bad guys? Think about it. The Skylanders have clearly been subjugating the Chuckers, the Trolls, the Drow, the Golems, trying to keep them out of the paradisiacal sky world because they're dirty and mucky, or something. And here you are, going around shooting innocent sheep. For shame.
You know, I think it would make for an awesome spin-off game — the oppressed masses rising up against a totalitarian Skylander regime to claim a right to live somewhere nice, and raise their families, and have lovely picnics with balloons and presents.
I would so play that game.
In the meantime, I'm going to play Skylanders every chance I get, because now I have a way to make it even more fun: inserting a political narrative based on circumstantial evidence and pretending I'm playing the Bad Guys TM.