Review: Skylanders: Imaginators (Switch)

Did Imaginators successfully make the leap from Wii U to Switch?

By Robert Marrujo. Posted 06/06/2017 10:00 Comment on this     ShareThis
The Final Grade
grade/score info
1-Up Mushroom for...
The title only requires figures to be scanned once; crisp graphics; faithful recreation of the original, but now portable.
Poison Mushroom for...
Scanning figures can sometimes cause the game to crash; the game could have been better optimized for the handheld format.

Skylanders: Imaginators came out on Wii U back in the Fall of 2016 and was warmly received by most fans and critics. It certainly wasn’t the most innovative title in the series when it came to gameplay, but it did shake the formula up a bit with completely customizable Skylanders, a series first. Now, Imaginators has made the jump to Switch, so there will likely be a lot of fans wondering if it’s worth it to upgrade to the game on Nintendo’s new console, whether as a first-time adopter or someone who already owns the title on Wii U or another platform. Well, don’t worry, dear readers, because we’ve got you covered! Read on for our take on Imaginators on Switch, and click this link to read our original review which covers the core mechanics and experience of the game.

Imaginators: The Switch Difference

I loved the heck out of Imaginators on Wii U; it was incredibly fun and also felt like a logical evolution of the Skylanders formula that was started all the way back with Spyro’s Adventure. When I saw it was coming to Switch, part of me questioned if it would be worth the investment. After all, the original bundle on Wii U retailed for a pretty penny, and with this launch on Switch coming less than a year later, it felt like a bit much to ask on Activision’s part. Thankfully, the Switch version of Imaginators has a couple of advantages that others don’t, which should make it a no-brainer for fans sitting on the fence.

For starters, this take on Imaginators doesn’t require a portal. Using either the Joy-Con or Pro Controller NFC reader, players can scan in any of the over 300 Skylanders that have been released over the years, including the quartet of Bowser and Donkey Kong figurines that are exclusive to Nintendo consoles. What’s more, once the figures have been scanned into the game, scanning them once more unlocks them permanently for play. That’s right: like the 3DS iterations of Skylanders, Imaginators on Switch allows players to keep their collection of the toys in-game at all times—there’s no need to lug any of them around!

It was exciting to have all of my different Skylanders in tow on the go, albeit digitally, but the process wasn’t without its flaws. Unfortunately, I came to find that my Switch would randomly come to a halt displaying an error message while scanning in the figures, requiring that a console restart. Frankly, it freaked me out each time, as I feared it might end up doing damage to my Switch before all was said and done. I did some research online and found that other fans have had similar troubles with the game, though it apparently is exacerbated when doing the scanning on a Pro Controller. Thankfully, once I scanned all the figured I wanted to use, the game hasn’t frozen up on me at all, but it’s something to consider when deciding to make a purchase.

The convenience of not having to use a portal can’t be ignored, however, and it’s also worth noting that this is the first true, console-faithful version of Skylanders that can be played anywhere thanks to the hybrid nature of Switch. While I enjoyed the 3DS installments of Skylanders, being able to enjoy Imaginators at anytime, anywhere has been a revelation. The series’ signature gameplay is wonderful to experience on the go, and there’s never a hitch in performance. I did feel that the Switch version of Imaginators isn’t quite as pretty as it is on Xbox One and PlayStation 4, but the presentation here is top notch, regardless; my eyes were nearly constantly watering over some of the impeccable stage and character designs on display.

Unfortunately, though Imaginators can be played in portable mode, it hasn’t been optimized as a mobile title. In short, the save points haven’t been reworked, and many of the levels run quite long, which ultimately isn’t all that conducive for successful completion during a quick bus ride. Despite this, the console can be put into sleep mode at any time, so the odds of the system dying before someone can get home or to a power source for a quick charge are pretty low. As it stands, this is the superior way to experience Imaginators on any platform, and it’s highly recommended that Switch owners give the title a whirl!

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