'Skylanders' takes on Disney Infinity with its new toy-to-tablet starter pack

If you've heard of Skylanders, we're going to guess either you're a kid, you're a parent with kids or you know someone with kids. And if you do, we're going to guess you probably already know about Skylanders Trap Team, the latest game to come out of the Skylanders franchise that's set to debut later this year. As a brief reminder, the game essentially comes with a device that you can use as a "portal" to transform real-world figurines into in-game characters. The hook with the Trap Team version is that you can use one of eight "Traptanium traps" to "trap" enemies in the game -- you do so by inserting a tiny plastic dongle into a slot on the aforementioned portal. You can then play as the trapped enemy if you like, switching between it and your main character as you progress in the game.

Which is all well and good if you're content with playing with the game on a console. But what if you don't have one? Or what if your kid's preferred device for gaming is a tablet? Well, fortunately for you, the team behind Skylanders has just announced that it'll be producing Skylanders Trap Team for the tablet as well. Activision and Toys for Bob, the studio behind Skylanders, claims that this is the first time in franchise history that it's bringing the full AAA console experience to the smaller handheld screen. Indeed, Paul Reiche, the head of Toys for Bob, tells us that the tablet version of Skylanders Trap Team is "pixel for pixel" the same as the one for the 360.

Just how is the tablet version different from the normal ol' Trap Team? For starters, the aforementioned portal comes equipped with Bluetooth low-energy to communicate with your slate of choice. It also has a handy groove along the side that's designed to fit the tablet, so that you can prop it up for a hands-free experience. And speaking of a hands-free experience, perhaps the best thing about the tablet edition of Trap Team is that when you flip the portal upside down, you can pop out a Bluetooth-enabled mini controller from underneath it. Yep, the game comes with its own controller so that you can get the whole console experience right on the tablet. We tried it out for a few minutes, and though the controller is rather small for our hands (you've got to remember it's meant for kids) it definitely feels a lot like playing on a miniature console. And, just in case you don't want to use the physical controller for whatever reason, you can bring up on-screen controls too.

Reiche tells us there's also an additional gameplay mode, for kids who want to keep playing the game while disconnected from the portal, say while they're traveling in between destinations. In this mode, they're given a separate "instant" character that's completely separate from that of the figurine, just to give kids the chance to wander through the level in between sessions. "Skylanders is really intended to be a toy collection and switching characters, and this doesn't come close to replacing that," says Reiche. "But we did want to give people this option."

Now, the game isn't compatible with all tablets -- it'll need sufficient horsepower to handle the game's graphics at the very least. For now, Skylanders Trap Team is compatible with all iPads from the 3rd generation onward (that includes the iPad Air and the iPad Mini Retina), the Kindle Fire HDX, the Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro, the Tab S, the Note 10.1 (2014) and the Note Pro 12.2. The Trap Team starter pack comes with the aforementioned Bluetooth portal, the mini controller, two Skylanders characters, two Traps and a handy display tray to see all your traps and villains. It'll be available for $74.99 and launches on October 5th in North America (10th in Europe and 2nd in the Asia-Pacific region), just like all the other Trap Team starter packs.