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Skylanders Trap Team will debut in October

The fourth installment of the popular Skylanders franchise is set arrive this fall with all new characters and villain-trapping gameplay. Check out our preview.

David Carnoy/CNET

Another year, another Skylanders game.

Yes, Trap Team, the fourth installment of Activision's uber popular franchise, which combines physical toys with virtual gameplay, is set to hit stores on October 5. And like last year's Swapforce, which featured new characters that have swappable tops and bottoms, this installment also gets a new gimmick: you'll be able to capture villains in the video game and store them in "magical traps" and then send them back into the game to fight on your side.

In case you've never heard of Skylanders, it goes like this: you put your physical character on the Power Portal, which connects via USB to your game console, and the virtual version of that character enters the game. What has helped make the game so popular and a huge money-maker for Activision is that kids love collecting the various characters and seeing how they perform in the game.

New Portal of Power: Traptanium Portal
Last year's Swapforce game required you to buy a whole new Portal of Power (even if you had one from a previous Skylanders game) and the same is true for Trap Team. To play the game you'll need to the purchase the Starter Kit, which will retail for $74.95. It includes the new Traptanium Portal, which has a slot for inserting the Traps (they look like crystal keys), as well as a couple of Trap Team characters and two Traps.

I was told Activision will release 50 new Trap Team characters for the game and you'll be able to use all your old Skylanders in the new game (it's backward compatible with existing Skylanders figures). But you won't be able to use the new Trap Team characters in previous Skylanders games.

Activision says, "Trap Team introduces Skylanders heroes known as Trap Masters, brand new Core Skylanders characters and reposed fan-favorite Skylanders characters." None of those characters will have swappable tops and bottoms.

The new Traptanium Portal is required to play the game. David Carnoy/CNET

Hear the villains
Along with the slot for the Traps, the new Traptanium Portal also has an integrated speaker so you'll also be able to hear the villains inside the Trap.

Activision says that the new game allows kids to pull characters out of the digital world into the physical world, but that's not exactly true. The digital character is essentially stored on what amounts to a crystal-shaped USB stick; you don't fire up a 3D printer and print the figure out. And as you might expect, there are different types of Traps for kids to collect -- or as Activision describes them, "elementally aligned Traps with unique and interesting designs." At this point it's unclear how much the Traps will cost and whether they'll be available as completely separate items or in two-packs.

The new Skylanders Traps plug into the new Portal and allow you to capture villains. David Carnoy/CNET

Kids can take their Traps -- with villains stored inside -- to friends' houses and play with them there (the Traps and figures are platform agnostic).

Trap Team will be available for PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, , the Wii and Wii U, and Nintendo 3DS. The game will be available on October 5 in North America; October 2 in Australia/New Zealand; and October 10 in Europe.