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1. Can a normal/average 5 year old reasonably play and complete this game (playing co-op with me playing also)?
Ex. We played and completed Lego Marvel together (me doing most of the puzzle heavy lifting).
2. Is this game Co-op out of the box? Or will I need to buy an extra portal or extra figures toys?
3. Is there plenty of content to get without buying an unreasonable amount of other toys (i've read about the elemental gates and traps)? I don't mind buying some extra figures, but I want my inital investment to feel like I got a full game.
1) He or she can probably handle most of it; coop can probably handle the rest.
2) You only need 1 portal. The Starter Pack comes with enough figures for 2 players, provided neither of you "dies". Each figure is basically one "life"; if one character gets clobbered, you either start the level over or switch characters and keep going. Since the Starter Pack only has enough figures for 2 players to have 1 character each, you'll probably need to get some extras to keep you going on harder levels/bosses. Learning how to use captured villains to your advantage helps alleviate this to some degree.
3) Any single character has access to (wild guess) maybe 75% of the game, and that other 25% is optional. If you don't count the extra areas from the Adventure Packs and Expansion Packs, you can probably change that to 90% or more accessible, 10% or less locked. Each of those Packs adds 1 chapter/level to the game; there are 18 chapters/levels without the Packs.
My son has played and beaten every skylander game so far console and handheld and he is seven now. It helps that he has one of each character as he lives the series and these are his Christmas and birthday presents every year haha. It's a great for a kid who loves gaming and for a parent who loves to play to we have lost many an hour in these games. My only problem with the game is they have collectables for other characters in the game even if you do not have that character and it kills my son to know he doesn't have that character.... Yet haha. I know this is to make money for them. If you like this one I recommend going back and getting the others if you could as they are great games to. Oh also the adventure packs are great way to get something new when ye have done everything in the base game but are alot to spend on one level and one or two characters.