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Skylanders Swap Force preview

Piecing together a smash hit

Skylanders' soaraway success is predicated on great critters with even greater monikers, and Swap Force delivers big on both counts. A piratey octopus named Wash Buckler? A ninja skunk called Stink Bomb? A motorcycling rhinoceros known as Fryno? This is elite-tier character naming, people. Sort of puts Pokemon's 'Krabby' and 'Trubbish' into perspective, doesn't it?

You'll notice that the 16 new Skylanders all have double-barrelled names (Fryno is one of the new 'normal' types). What's that all about? It all becomes clear when you rip 'em in half. As detailed previously, Swap Force enables you to play Frankenstein with your new toys, mixing and matching the tops and bottoms of your collection to taste. Fancy a skunk-on-tentacles? Introducing Stink Buckler. Or an octopus-on-legs? Wash Bomb is who you'll be wanting, then.

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As ever, the Portal of Power's instant recognition of your Franken-lander is seamless and infectious - there's something about gluing a set of wheels onto an eagle and seeing him whiz about on screen seconds later that really tickles us in our ticklish bits.

Playing mad doctor also enables you to take two different elemental attacks into the fray, giving you a greater chance of surviving everything returning villain Kaos can throw at you, including 'evilised sugarbats', apparently.

Of course, you can still play with your old Skylanders from the first two games - Toys For Bob are dedicated to full backwards compatibility - and as an added bonus it has redrawn every character and added the ability to jump, breathing new life into mouldy old toys. Throw in new Swap Force-specific bonus missions, player versus player arena battles and a ninja skunk - a ninja skunk! - and it's clear that Skylanders aims to push put-upon parents below the breadline for a third year running.

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