Family Bonding Through Video Games - Part 3

Hello and welcome back!

If you’re not familiar with the purpose of this post or would like to review the games that I’ve talked about earlier, then feel free to jump over to my first post in the series and my last post about puzzle games. For this post, I’ll be focusing on three games featuring toys that connect to the virtual game environment.

As a gamer, I enjoy these games due to the technology that allows for the progress of a specific game character to be saved back to the toy itself. This allows you to take these toys with you to a friend’s house and pick up where you left off. As a parent, these games are great as they allow for significant multiplayer experience between kids and adults in the same room. Things can get a bit cluttered when you start collecting multiple toys for the characters in the game. Each of these games also feature a portal of some sort on which you must place the toys. This allows the game to know which character, special object, or special level you want to use. You’ll need to keep this in mind in terms of whether you have the space – especially if you’re considering purchasing multiple games that use these connected toys.

On to the games…


Skylanders is the first game that we played to feature connected toys. The story for Skylanders began with a single game called Spyro The Dragon that was released on the original Playstation game console. From there, the story grew into a massive universe featuring many skylanders, sklyanders giants, skylanders that could swap powers, pets for skylanders, and even a bit of racing in the latest update to the game. Skylanders is, by far, my favorite of the three games featured in this post. This is due to the solid stories and game play that are featured throughout all of the upgrades and expansion packs. We’ve never had a moment in Skylanders where we were having a bad time or where something felt more complicated than it needed to be. The controls are simple. This allows for kids and adults alike to pick up the controller and start playing without any confusion. There also are not lots of tutorials that get in the way. This is not necessarily true for the other two. The characters are really what make this such a solid game though. They each have their own well developed personalities, special weapons, special powers, and upgrade paths to improve upon the powers that they have. As mentioned above, those upgrades are saved back to the toy for that character so that you can take your character to a friend’s house and play on their game with them. We really enjoy the different levels in the game as they feature puzzles, adventure style gaming, and some areas that challenge you to fight as many enemies as you can in a given time limit. When playing together, we are able to focus on dividing responsibilities so that we can take care of all enemies on the screen and solve all of the puzzles together. Playing this game together has helped my daughter to learn leadership skills, problem solving skills, and time management skills.

Skylanders is the first game that we played to feature connected toys. The story for Skylanders began with a single game called Spyro The Dragon that was released on the original Playstation game console. From there, the story grew into a massive universe featuring many skylanders, sklyanders giants, skylanders that could swap powers, pets for skylanders, and even a bit of racing in the latest update to the game.

Skylanders is, by far, my favorite of the three games featured in this post. This is due to the solid stories and game play that are featured throughout all of the upgrades and expansion packs. We’ve never had a moment in Skylanders where we were having a bad time or where something felt more complicated than it needed to be. The controls are simple. This allows for kids and adults alike to pick up the controller and start playing without any confusion. There also are not lots of tutorials that get in the way. This is not necessarily true for the other two.

The characters are really what make this such a solid game though. They each have their own well developed personalities, special weapons, special powers, and upgrade paths to improve upon the powers that they have. As mentioned above, those upgrades are saved back to the toy for that character so that you can take your character to a friend’s house and play on their game with them.

We really enjoy the different levels in the game as they feature puzzles, adventure style gaming, and some areas that challenge you to fight as many enemies as you can in a given time limit. When playing together, we are able to focus on dividing responsibilities so that we can take care of all enemies on the screen and solve all of the puzzles together. Playing this game together has helped my daughter to learn leadership skills, problem solving skills, and time management skills.


Disney Infinity was the second game that we picked up to feature connected toys. The first release of this game featured characters from classic Disney and Pixar movies; however, some of the latest releases have included characters from both the Marvel and Star Wars worlds. As with Skylanders, there are base packs that come with each new release of the game. Then, there are expansion levels that you can buy along with separate characters that can be purchased in individual packs. This allows you to purchase expansion packs for different brands (e.g., Marvel) or different movies. They also have classic characters from Disney history. One of my favorites is Mickey Mouse from the movie Fantasia. One of the features that Disney Infinity features that you won’t find in Skylanders or Lego Dimensions is the Toy Box. Inside this special part of the game you can build your own worlds in which to play with friends and family. You can also share these worlds online and download worlds that others have created. As you complete different levels in the core game, you collect pieces that you can use inside your Toy Box. If you want to build Cinderella’s castle inside of a world where you’ll play as Jack Sparrow or Sully, then that’s possible inside the Toy Box. Something that threw me off when we first started playing was that I thought that we’d be able to play in the different core levels or expansion levels with characters that aren’t from those worlds; however, this was not the case. For example, I expected to be able to play through the Monsters Inc levels as Jack Sparrow. This is not possible; however, you can build your own world featuring items from the Monsters Inc levels inside your Toy Box and play through them with any character that you own. With Disney Infinity, my daughter and I really enjoy playing through the levels more than playing in the Toy Box.  The more directed nature of the levels appealed to us more than the free form nature of the Toy Box. While we had lots of potential props, enemies, and character to use in the Toy Box, it was never as much fun as the levels that are pre-built. One thing in particular that we do enjoy about the Toy Box is the ability to download levels that other players have built. This is a nice addition and may prompt my daughter to build more of her own in the future so that she can share them with others.

Disney Infinity was the second game that we picked up to feature connected toys. The first release of this game featured characters from classic Disney and Pixar movies; however, some of the latest releases have included characters from both the Marvel and Star Wars worlds. As with Skylanders, there are base packs that come with each new release of the game. Then, there are expansion levels that you can buy along with separate characters that can be purchased in individual packs. This allows you to purchase expansion packs for different brands (e.g., Marvel) or different movies. They also have classic characters from Disney history. One of my favorites is Mickey Mouse from the movie Fantasia.

One of the features that Disney Infinity features that you won’t find in Skylanders or Lego Dimensions is the Toy Box. Inside this special part of the game you can build your own worlds in which to play with friends and family. You can also share these worlds online and download worlds that others have created. As you complete different levels in the core game, you collect pieces that you can use inside your Toy Box. If you want to build Cinderella’s castle inside of a world where you’ll play as Jack Sparrow or Sully, then that’s possible inside the Toy Box.

Something that threw me off when we first started playing was that I thought that we’d be able to play in the different core levels or expansion levels with characters that aren’t from those worlds; however, this was not the case. For example, I expected to be able to play through the Monsters Inc levels as Jack Sparrow. This is not possible; however, you can build your own world featuring items from the Monsters Inc levels inside your Toy Box and play through them with any character that you own.

With Disney Infinity, my daughter and I really enjoy playing through the levels more than playing in the Toy Box.  The more directed nature of the levels appealed to us more than the free form nature of the Toy Box. While we had lots of potential props, enemies, and character to use in the Toy Box, it was never as much fun as the levels that are pre-built. One thing in particular that we do enjoy about the Toy Box is the ability to download levels that other players have built. This is a nice addition and may prompt my daughter to build more of her own in the future so that she can share them with others.


Lego Dimensions is the latest game to take advantage of the NFC technology that allows for toys connected to games. This game features many characters from across the Lego universe. It is very likely that you and your kids will find a set of characters that you will enjoy right away. The base package includes characters from The Lego Movie; however, we also grabbed the Scooby Doo expansion pack so that we could play the Scooby Doo levels as Shaggy and Scooby. One feature that Lego Dimensions has that Skylanders and Disney Infinity do not is that you must build the physical toys that will be connected to the game. You get to build the portal that allows you to connect your toys. You get to put together the batmobile, batman, scooby doo, shaggy, the mystery machine, and many other characters and associated toys that go along with them. The packs come with instructions on how to put the various toys together; however, they have also integrated the instructions and building of the toys into the game itself. As such, you’ll get help during your play session via on-screen assistance. We have not yet spent as much time with Lego Dimensions as we have with Skylanders or Disney Infinity. As such, I’m hesitant to rush to judgement. We have enjoyed the time spent playing this one as it features lots of our favorite characters from movies and TV shows that we’ve watched together. We’ve also enjoyed the physical building aspect of Lego Dimensions that is just not possible with the games above. Now, if we could only get some Goosebumps legos my daughter would be ecstatic.

Lego Dimensions is the latest game to take advantage of the NFC technology that allows for toys connected to games. This game features many characters from across the Lego universe. It is very likely that you and your kids will find a set of characters that you will enjoy right away. The base package includes characters from The Lego Movie; however, we also grabbed the Scooby Doo expansion pack so that we could play the Scooby Doo levels as Shaggy and Scooby.

One feature that Lego Dimensions has that Skylanders and Disney Infinity do not is that you must build the physical toys that will be connected to the game. You get to build the portal that allows you to connect your toys. You get to put together the batmobile, batman, scooby doo, shaggy, the mystery machine, and many other characters and associated toys that go along with them. The packs come with instructions on how to put the various toys together; however, they have also integrated the instructions and building of the toys into the game itself. As such, you’ll get help during your play session via on-screen assistance.

We have not yet spent as much time with Lego Dimensions as we have with Skylanders or Disney Infinity. As such, I’m hesitant to rush to judgement. We have enjoyed the time spent playing this one as it features lots of our favorite characters from movies and TV shows that we’ve watched together. We’ve also enjoyed the physical building aspect of Lego Dimensions that is just not possible with the games above. Now, if we could only get some Goosebumps legos my daughter would be ecstatic.


My goal is to inspire you to grab one of these games, sit down with one (or more) of the kids in your life, and have fun spending time with them. If you play one or more of these games and want to share what you and your kids thought, send me a quick message on TwitterFacebook, or via email. For the next post, I’ll be writing about World of Warcraft and other MMORPGs

Thanks for reading!

Coy