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Skylanders Cloud Patrol Review: Kid-Friendly Gallery Shooter

As I live in a home with a Wii and a seven-year old, I am quite familiar with Skylanders, the novelty video game franchise that was one of last Christmas’s hottest titles. I’ve played a fair bit of the console game, and while the new iOS game Skylanders Cloud Patrol is not a true pocket edition of that title, it is a kid-friendly gallery shooting game that leverages the flavor and fun of the franchise.

In Skylanders Cloud Patrol, you take on the role of gun-toting Trigger Happy, one of the 30+ Skylanders characters. Riding in a cannon turret on an airship, your job is to clear floating islands of evil troll invaders. Along the way, you must collect coins, dodge bombs and projectiles, shoot some sheep, gather presents, and complete achievements that help you level up. The further you get, the more rewards you collect; and then you use those rewards to purchase in-game items and even more Skylanders.

It’s a fairly simple game presented in a fairly straightforward way. There’s no plot or side missions; it’s purely a shooting gallery where you move from one island to the next.  The progression of areas is broken up by things like bonus areas and “Hideouts” where trolls appear whack-a-mole style, and generally the game moves at a fast enough pace that it does not get monotonous. It’s also a fairly quick game to play, especially since one mistake — shoot a bomb or get hit by a projectile — is all it takes to end the game. There are no extra lives in Skylanders Cloud Patrol!

The game is also definitely a Skylanders game, not just a generic game retrofitted with some Skylanders skins. Shooting galleries pop up all through the console game, and it’s a good idea to leverage them into their own little pocket player. In addition, all of the Skylanders are represented here, as are several of the objects from the game. Power-ups come in recognizable forms and work in ways that make sense in the game, even when they’re different from the console versions.

Graphically, too, everything is bright and colorful and recognizably Skylanders, though things can look awfully polygon-shaped sometimes (such as the balloon on the airship). But as the game’s constantly shuffling you along to the next area, you never get a chance to linger on these graphical hiccups. And the Skylanders themselves all look authentic to the console game, so kids won’t notice the other flaws.

And really, kids are the target demographic here. For kids, Skylanders Cloud Patrol is not only fun, but offers the added benefit of being able to “portal” their toys into the game via the toy codes that come with each figure. That’s assuming your kids have kept them; my son had lost most of his, though we were able to quickly get a Terrafin and a Stealth Elf via card codes.

I’m not sure that many adults will pick this game up.  It’s not that this game can’t be a challenging little guilty pleasure; it’s just that you’ll feel a little silly playing it in public. This one’s really for the kids, especially kids who own the console game. It’s something that they’ll want on their iPod Touch, or their mom’s iPad. And for a good game at the low price of 99 cents, it’s something that’s easy to treat a kid to.

Our Score: 4 out of 5

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