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Given the popularity the Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure console game -- which uses toys with built-in RFID chips to interact with the digital characters -- it's disappointing that the series' iOS debut is a simple gallery-style shooter, paired with the kind of persistent challenge progression done best in the excellent Jetpack Joyride.
In Cloud Patrol, players take control of a mounted gun on the side of a guided airship, clearing out baddies as it moves between platforms. Tapping an enemy fires a shot from the ship’s gun, but dragging a line between enemies is much more effective, as it forms a combo chain that increases your score. It also covers the screen with your hand though, often leading to frustrating accidental collisions with game-ending bombs.
When each enemy is defeated, coins used to upgrade power-up abilities – like an Anvil Storm that drops metal projectiles on the entire stage – scatter across the screen, giving you a few seconds of collection time before moving on to the next platform. Money won’t net you the power-ups themselves, though; instead, you'll use gems earned through completing sets of challenges to purchase new moves as well as additional Skylanders. However, this happens at such a sluggish pace that it’s clear they’re meant to be gained through in-app purchases.
Skylanders Cloud Patrol isn't as unique an experience as I would have expected from the property, considering its innovative console approach, though the lack of a full port is understandable. While the game relies heavily on continued play, there isn’t anything that makes me want to come back for more; it lacks serious depth and isn't likely to hold your attention for more than a couple sittings.
The bottom line. As it stands, Cloud Patrol is a serviceably entertaining distraction, but there are plenty of better options on the App Store that don’t require the $0.99 initial buy-in.
iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch running iOS 4.3 or later
Skylanders fans already absorbed into the universe will enjoy the collection aspect. Cutesy soundtrack fits the gameplay well.
Lacks any kind of depth or reason to keep playing. Combo controls get in the way of gameplay on the small iPhone screen.