The game begins in Boom Town and asks you to summon two Skylanders before moving on to the first level. If you want to get everything from the level your first go through you should summon in a Fire element Skylander and a Swap Force character with the Spin ability. Conveniently enough the Starter Pack provides both of these with Volcanic Eruptor and Free Ranger. You will be able to load in more Skylanders once you have finished the first level.
Before you leave it'll ask you to take a look at the switching mechanic, to choose a Skylander to switch to you first tap on one of the element icons on the bottom screen and then select the Skylander you wish to switch to. If it is a swappable character you will then be taken to a screen where you can switch out the top or bottom halves to make a new combination, tap Play to finish and load in the Skylander. You can also switch Skylander simply by tapping on the picture of the Skylander in the middle of the screen, this takes you to the element page of that Skylander if it's a regular Skylander but if it's a swappable Skylander it takes you to the part swapping screen with the current combination already loaded so you can easily just switch one part.
Go up the wooden pier towards a Mabu who'll tell you that the Sky Docks are under attack. Follow the path along past the Mabu and follow a line of coins along to a split, take the left path as the right one is just for recovering from a jump if you miss it. Not far along the left path is the jump press the B button while moving forwards and you should make it over, try to jump at the last possible moment and to continue to push forwards on the circle pad so that you keep moving in the air. If you do fall down you can get back up by following the path back around.
The next jump is a bit longer so requires a double jump. That means pressing the jump button again while in the air during a jump, in this instance the game pauses briefly to let you press the second jump but it won't do that for any other jumps in the game so try to get used to it.
Blocking the path just ahead is a bit of debris, you'll need to smash through it with your attacks, keep hitting it with your Y attack until it disappears. On the right side of the path just beyond that is the first [Chest 1/6], it's a red and yellow chest that slightly wobbles, to smash it you need to hit it several times with your attacks. Once it's open it'll drop five normal coins and a larger coin that's worth five coins. So ten coins. That happens to also be the magic number for the doubling effect, for a short time any coins you pick up will be worth double their value, you can see this visually by the icon in the top left corner turning gold and having a x2 marker on it, as well as all the coins in the world turning gold instead of silver. This only lasts a short time so make the most of it.
Jump over the next gap and follow the curve of the path up and over another gap, to the right of where you land is a path leading off to another bit of debris with [Chest 2/6] behind it. Return to the main path after smashing it and continue upwards to a large open grassy area. A couple of small enemies will suddenly appear and start attacking you, they're robot Chompies so if you've played previous games in the series you should remember that they're the weakest type of enemy you fight and that they don't take more than a single hit to defeat. The problem with them is simply having many of them trying to attack you at once. After defeating the first two Chompies a couple of clockwork Chompy Pods will drop in and start creating more Chompies that you need to attack, ignore the pods themselves as they will self destruct after putting out a set number of Chompies and there's nothing you can do to them before that.
Once the pods have exploded the Monster Gate will drop and let you past, you'll encounter these often in the game and require you to defeat all nearby enemies before they'll open. This means that while you can skip a lot of enemies you do have to fight when you come across one of these.
Anyway, go through the Monster Gate and you'll meet another Mabu who this time will tell you about the Elemental Gate he's standing next to. This one is Fire so if you have a Fire Skylander loaded into the game switch to it and approach the gate. For swappable Skylanders you only need to have one half as the matching element, the other half can be any element you like.
With a Fire element Skylander active approach the gate and it will open. You can now switch to any Skylander you like, it no longer matters if it is Fire or not. Jump into the balloon on the other side of the gate to be taken to the challenge. This time you have to kill the Chompies that are being fired through the air over the platform that you're standing on, keep on doing that until the Monster Gate opens and another platform rises out of the lava, double jump over to it and on it is a present [Hat 1/4 - Beanie] that you need to attack to pick up. Make sure to do that before stepping into the teleporter that will take you back outside the gate.
Continue along the path past the Fire Gate towards a large red bridge, the bridge will collapse as you cross over it and drop you down to the next part. The game will again instruct you to switch Skylanders, you can just switch to the same Skylander if you don't actually want to change.
Go past the Mabu and jump over the gap towards a couple of enemies. These robots will fire a ball of fire out from their guns so make sure to get out of the way of that by jumping over it. Defeat them and jump forwards and left off the left edge towards the platform below with a bounce pad and a present [Hat 2/4 - Fancy Ribbon]. Grab the present and then use the bounce pad to get right back up to where you jumped off.
Go right where the two enemies were and up a slope towards another type of robot enemy, this one will run towards you and try to hit you with a sword so try not to sit still for too long and instead jump over him or just move away so that he can't hit you. At the top of the ramp jump over the gap to the left and continue along to the left through some debris and then down off the edge to [Chest 3/6]. Double jump back up and go back to the right and then onwards up the slope.
There's another couple of ranged robots at the top, get rid of them and follow the path behind them to where another Mabu will show you the first Swap Force Zone, a Spin Zone. As long as the bottom half of your swappable Skylander is a Spin ability (such as the bottom half of Free Ranger) you will be able to step on the teleporter and go in. You can tell which swap ability the bottom half has by the icon at the bottom of their portrait in the selection screen or by the icon at the bottom right corner of the top screen when they are being used. A Spin Swap Force has a tornado icon.
Spin Swap Zone
In this Spin Zone you'll be using your Spin Power to deflect cannonballs as well as hovering over gaps and other dangerous obstacles like the propellers just ahead. Be aware that Swap Powers have a limited duration so you will want to cross over the danger as quickly as possible. Press L to initiate the Power (you can only start using a Power if the power bar is completely full) and then move forwards over the propellers, keep moving until you reach the platform on the other side.
There's a few enemies up ahead, defeat the first one that runs up towards you and then move a little further up to where there's a ship firing cannonballs, you can see where they're aiming by the red cross on the floor, if you activate your Spin Power just after it fires you should reflect the cannonball to hit the ship. Do that twice to destroy it. Defeat the other enemies up here before starting the next propeller section.
The gap to the next platform is a lot larger this time so you'll need to go through the tornadoes which will refill your power bar and let you keep spinning for longer. Go left and try to deflect cannonballs into the floating chests, it's not difficult but can be a little tricky. You basically need to get a cannonball to hit you and to bounce it into a set of the rubber wheels, move and it should keep bouncing between you, get over nearer a chest and it should then fly off towards it. The tornadoes will keep reappearing so you can sit in one spot and keep refilling the bar if you need it. If you do smash these chests they do count towards the Bash Chests total but there are enough regular chests that it isn't 100% necessary.
Once you reach the first platform defeat the two ranged enemies and then deflect the cannonballs into the ships firing them at you, go on past where the enemies were and jump onto a platform made of small green boats, go along it and kill another enemy before jumping over to [Chest 4/6]. Go right and defeat another enemy before continuing along the propellers. Go forwards through the tornadoes (there is another flying chest back down to the right if you want to try to get it with a cannonball) to the end of the path (and there's a third flying chest right at the end if you can manage to keep a cannonball bouncing that far) where you'll need to go and step onto a rectangular ship, the gate will close behind you and a ship with three will start firing cannonballs at you, wait for all three reticules to target you and the first one to fire before using the power so you get all three in one go. Move around while waiting for the bar to refill and then repeat to destroy the ship. Smash open the present [Hat 3/4 - Aviator's Cap] and step into the teleporter. Exiting a Swap Zone also causes ten coins to appear for you.
Go left and follow the path along until you get to a split next to a large billboard with Flynn on it. Take the ramp down to the left and jump over to [Chest 5/6], jump back over and carry on up to a fight with another pair of robotic Chompy Pods. When you've destroyed all the Chompies smash through the boxes at the left side to find [Hat 4/4 - Trucker Hat] hidden behind them. Then go through the door of the building with a large Mabu holding a wrench.
Inside you'll have to defeat a few more Chompies and a couple of the sword robots before the cowering Mabu will give you the key to the exit at the far end of the shop. Pick up the key and approach the door, the key should be used automatically and allow you through. The game would now like to teach you how to spring, simply keep moving and hold down the A button (regular Skylanders can hold down the L button instead but that'll active a swapper's powers so you're probably better off only using A to run). Not really necessary here but you might as well, jump onto the ship at the end of the path to be take a short distance away.
Once you arrive go left, you're now on the other side of that red bridge that collapsed earlier, carry on up the slope past a few Chompies and over a few gaps that appear until you get to a grassy area with another Chompy Pod. After clearing the Chompies start jumping across the moving platforms behind it over to the other side. At another open grassy area defeat another few more enemies, on the right on a balloon is the final [Chest 6/6] to smash, if you don't quite have all six yet then don't worry as there is actually still one spare that you can get.
Go up the moving platform and then rather than going onto the second set go down the ramp towards that spare [Chest 7/6]. With that go back to making your way up the floating fan platforms to the top and fighting the three sets of Chompies that appear. Once they're all gone a Mabu will ask you to blow up a blockage with a bomb. You'll also be told of the special ability that Giant Skylanders have (the larger variety of Skylanders introduced in Skylanders: Giants), they can smash blockages like this without even using a bomb. For everyone else though the bomb is just to the right, pick it up by walking over it and then face the blockage and press Y to throw the bomb and complete the level.
After blowing up the blockage you'll be taken to Boom Town, the hub world of the game. At the moment the town is a bit damaged so parts of it are cut off, these will unlock as you go further through the story. For now you can visit the Museum and take a look at your Hat collection as well as your Skylander collection.
To the south of the town is a Portal of Power, you need to use that if you want to load in more Skylanders. Unlike the previous two 3DS games you can load in your entire collection and switch between any of them at any time, however you can't load in new Skylanders in the middle of a level so you might want to get started...
Once you've got all the Skylanders you want loaded in talk to Hugo who's standing in the middle of town. After that go over to the docks and talk to Flynn to select the next level. You can also choose to replay the first level if you want to go back and find things you've missed or to complete the Time Challenge that unlocked after beating it the first time.
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