Friday, May 29, 2015


Unplugged Dilintia: Skystones Promotional Game

You don't expect much from a free game that comes in a box of cereal, and of course I don't know a damned thing about Skylanders, so imagine my surprise when I found a really cool game in my box of Lucky Charms.

Oh, don't look at me like that.  I only bought it because I wanted to see what the game was.  And to eat the Lucky Charms.

It's a tile-placement game.  Players begin with a hand of five tiles and take turns placing them in a 3x3 grid.  Each tile has a different "strength" listed at each of its four borders, and if your tile shows a higher strength than its neighbors, you capture those tiles.  However, a tile that's already placed can't capture new tiles, so it's safe to place a weak tile next to a strong one.  There's enough strategy to it to keep it compelling, but the luck of the draw keeps it from become too rote.  There are four sets of tiles to collect, each with a different mix of creatures with different stats, and you can no doubt put them all together to create a single super-game.

It's an amazing game, especially for a promotional giveaway.  Every box comes with a self-contained package that gives you everything you need to play for hours, and all of the moving parts -- the tiles, complete game instructions, and even a coin to determine turn order -- fit in a box that's smaller than a Game Boy cartridge.  The back of the cereal box has a gameboard that you can cut out, but the game can be played without it when you're on the go or while you're waiting for the cereal to run out.  And the quality of the game is excellent -- the tiles come on nice, durable cardstock, thicker than playing cards, and every tile has cool character art on it.  It always tickles me to discover such a high-quality game that works so well that fits into such a tiny package.

I'm baffled that something like this is being limited to a cereal box promotion.  Even knowing that this is based on an existing Skylanders minigame (I thought it was a little odd that such a well-developed game would be made exclusively for General Mills), I'm surprised that nobody had the bright idea to make Skystones a physical collectible toy in its own right.  Why aren't these things being sold in packs at the check-out counter so kids can amass and play with them at school?  Until they come to their senses, you'll just have to choke down your pride and a few bowls of Cinnamon Toast Crunch if you want to try out this neat little gem.


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