This is the latest addition to our PS/3 arsenal of diversions. I’m not really sure why though. My wife and I are in our mid 50s, and this game is obviously intended for a younger audience. But then again, we’re big fans of Disney movies and Hallmark Christmas movies, so maybe this is for us – does age really matter here?

During the obligatory family gathering for Christmas, the grandkids were keen to give it a go, so we fired it up and they loved it! After the festivities when everyone had gone to their respective homes and the house got quiet, we started playing.

Wow, this is a nifty idea – the idea of storing each characters stats inside that character – this is either going to be a big change in the way video games are marketed or a major flop. The portal uses the typical Bluetooth technology to communicate with the console, and then NFC technology to access the info on the characters.

The gameplay is easy, it’s corny, but it’s clean – no sexual innuendos or graphic language – definitely aimed at the younger generation. If you want to sign up for the Activision newsletter for this game, you need your “parent’s email address” – sheesh, mine have been dead since the 60s, lol.

Some parts of the game are poorly done like the KAOS character – oh man, talk about bad dialog and voice acting. And the “floating head” graphics have no semblance of syncing to the bad voice acting. EDIT (1/5/2012): After further game play, I have to add the “Flynn” character to the “bad dialog” category as well – way bad – Boom!

Within the game there are special areas that can only be accessed by a character with that “elemental power”. There are 8 different “elemental powers”. There are currently 32 characters – 4 each for the 8 different elemental categories. The game comes with 3 characters, so you are immediately 5 characters short if you want to cover all the elemental categories.

And so it begins …

The only real problem here is that Activision got the game’s name all wrong. The name should be changed from “Spyro’s Adventure” to “Grandma’s Adventure”. The real adventure here is trying to find the additional characters needed.

After one night and a partial afternoon of playing, grandma decides we need more characters. Oh my, ok, so off we go – there is a GameStop not too far away – nope they are out of everything except the starter packs.

Well, that was silly, we need to go to a bigger store that has more inventory – there’s a Best Buy close to here, so here we come – nope, same story.

Ok, this is getting worrisome. Wait, there’s an EB Games over in that shopping center – wow, now it’s a GameStop – who knew – same story there. This GameStop actually had 4 of the same individual character – Boomer – but he’s a “tech elemental” and we already have one of those.

Screw it, we’ll just go home and order them online. We need to pick up something for dinner and decide on Mexican food from Rosa’s Cafe so we head that way.

Wait – there’s Walmart – but I hate Walmart – but the quest of scoring more characters grabs hold and off we trek into the bowels of Wally world – I mean surely they have some right? nope, same answer there.

Of course, in the shopping center next to Walmart is another GameStop – same story there.

And lastly, in the shopping center behind Rosa’s Cafe there’s a Target. Ohhhhhhhh noooooooo Mr Bill!!! Same story there. WTF? Depression setting in now.

I take back my previous statement about this possibly being a major flop – it certainly doesn’t appear that way.

It almost feels like the retailers don’t believe – when I asked one GameStop employee if they had any of the characters, 3 packs, or Adventure Packs, she actually said “No, we got slammed on those.” I said “Looks like it’s a bigger hit than expected.” Her reply was, “Yeah, I know, I don’t get it.”

Amazon.com shows some, but the prices are outrageous. Typical price on the individual characters is $7.99 at most places, $9.99 at Toys-R-Us. The 3 character packs are typically $19.99 but $24.99 at Toys-R-Us. Toys-R-Us supposedly has a limited edition legendary character pack that is exclusive to Toys-R-Us – I need to do more research.

We’ve since read about people buying the 3 packs and selling the more popular characters for 4 to 5 times their cost – I saw a single character listed on Amazon.com for $100.00 – doh. Needless to say, these folks are not getting any of our money. I can see a whole secondary market forming (if it already hasn’t) where you can buy, sell, trade characters at various levels of upgrades.

I think Activision has a hit here. It seems like they are stuck with the 8 elemental categories, but they could always introduce more than 4 characters per element. They can always add more “Adventure Packs” – new areas of the game with added abilities.

The currently available adventure packs are “Darklight Crypt” and “Pirate Seas”. I’d like to see some holiday themed adventures like a Halloween theme and a Winter Wonderland/Christmas theme. The possibilities are endless.

All in all, we like the game (except for that KAOS character who seems to grate on my nerves every time the “big head” appears – hopefully Activision can “fix” this).

One last note – the “portal of power” is appropriately named – it takes 3 AA batteries – the first set of batteries lasted about 20 hours of game play. Activision really needs to add an AC Adapter option for this part of the game hardware.

UPDATE (1/5/2012): I took the portal apart and have ordered the needed parts to modify this to use a wall wart – will put up another post about that in the coming days.

… in the meantime … our quest continues ….

UPDATE: (1/5/2012) – Well, we finally ended up at about 20 different stores scattered over 2 days time. We now have at least 1 character per element – for 2 elements, we have 2 characters. But we still need more, lol

The retailers are really not taking this seriously – no one has stock on these things even though their respective websites claim they do. The Toys-R-Us web site said one particular store had stock on the Legendary 3 pack – when we got there, they had a good selection of 3 packs, but none were Legendary. The store clerk said he hadn’t had stock on that in over 3 weeks.

So, you can’t believe the web sites at all – if they say they have stock, they don’t – if they say they don’t, they might. We found one Target that showed none available according to the Target.com website, but a quick call revealed they had some stock, so we went there – didn’t find what we wanted, but they did have some despite what the web site claimed.

TIP: A good place to look is Frys Electronics – we found a character for the final missing element there. Of the 20+ stores we visited, Frys Electronics in Arlington, TX had the largest selection of characters we found.

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