When we first heard that Skylanders Imaginators would be taking some of our favourite villains from Trap Team, and giving them the full on figure treatment, turning them into what were now known as Senseis, we were excited enough - but there were two figures, above all others, that we wanted to see make the jump: Pain Yatta, and Chompy Mage. At every chance we got, we badgered the development team, telling them how great Chompy Mage would work as a Sensei - and it seems our perseverance paid off, with dividends. Not only did both Pain Yatta and Chompy Mage make the game - but Chompy Mage has even been given his very own special edition, in the form of the (now traditional) Christmas figure, Jingle Bell Chompy Mage.
And in all honesty (OK, maybe we're slightly biased), this is one of the nicest Christmas figures Skylanders have ever done. In game, Jingle Bell Chompy Mage is a life Sensei of the Bazooker class, and comes sporting a gigantic rocket launcher that works as a kind of chompy cannon. Both the in game character model, and the figure itself have been given a Christmassy make over for this Christmas special edition, ditching the traditional Chompy Mage green, in favour of a bright red and white, decking the Chompster out like old Saint Nick. We have to say, it's a good look.
The Chompy Puppet has also found itself coloured in a much more festive white, making it look like a new breed of ice chompy, with a really strong textured effect making it look like it's really made out of fabric, like a proper glove puppet (it's not - it's all plastic like the rest). We also love the "erk" on the poor puppet's face, which presumably comes from having the Chompy Mage stick his hand up your bum.
The Chompster's staff, meanwhile, has been given a sparkly green sheen, making it kind of like Jingle Bell Chompy Mage's very own Christmas tree, topped off with - what else, a chompy. It's even got a bit of battle damage, presumably from being used to whack one too many bad guys.
In game, Chompy Mage looks just like his figure, red cloak, googly eyed white chompy puppet and all - just with his staff being replaced by a giant bazooka. And of course, even the bazooka looks like a chompy, complete with its very own googly eyes, and painted on angry mouth. All the better for doing damage to enemies with.
In game, Jingle Bell Chompy Mage is a force to be reckoned with. As this is only an in-game colour variant, his move set is exactly the same as the non-Christmassy Chompy Mage, with a wide variety of chompy powers to do damage with.
His basic attack, Chompzooka, fires a chompy out of his bazooka, doing damage both as it hits the enemy - and when it jumps to its feet to start biting! As a secondary attack, Chompy Mage can make the Chompy Puppet spit "life flavoured magic" at baddies (looks a lot like acid to us) - although quite how that works when it's a puppet is anyone's guess. Sadly, this is an attack that has way too short a range to be of much use, unless you find yourself backed into a corner.
In terms of upgrades, the first move you're going to want to buy is Chompy Pile - Chompy's tertiary move, this lets you transform into a pile of chompies, essentially turning the Chompster into a dust cloud that has the odd chompy eye popping out of it. Not only does this make it harder for enemies to attack you, but you can still do damage to them if you bump into them.
Other upgrades include Staff Shot, which lets you fire Chompy Mage's magical staff out of your bazooka rather than a Chompy (to deal more damage), "A Corn!", which lets the Chompy Puppet shoot a few exploding acorns out along with its "life magic" (which probably makes even less sense), and "What a Dashing Pile!", which lets the Chompy Pile dash to deal more damage to enemies.
However, most of the Chompy Mage's best upgrades lie in the branches - but luckily, it's not a tricky decision about which branch to take. As with all Skylanders, when you get half way through the upgrade tree, you'll have to choose a path to follow - and in Chompy Mage's case, you get to choose between upgrading the Chompies, or taking a more unusual path involving shrubberies. As the Chompy Mage is all about the chompies, it seem like a no brainer to take the traditional Chompy path - although your mileage may vary.
If you upgrade the shrubbery route, you'll learn new moves that weave shrubberies into the Chompy Mage's move set (someone's been watching a bit too much Monty Python), with the first letting the acorns the Chompy Puppet spits out grow into a poisonous shrubbery, the second letting Chompies drop poisonous shrubberies, and the third upgrading those shrubberies so they explode.
On the other route (in our opinion, the best one), you'll instead work on boosting your Chompy powers. "Bitey Chompies" lets your chompies latch on to enemies, and chew them a little bit; Giant Bitey Chompies lets your normal chompies transform into their larger cousins, letting them hang around a bit longer (and do more damage); while Pile Launcher makes the chompy Pile actually useful, as chompies will fly out of it as you move, going on to attack any nearby enemies on your behalf.
Even Chompy Mage's unlockable Sky-Chi power is sufficiently ridiculous. Called "Boingzooka", it's a move that lets you ride around the levels, using his bazooka as a pogo stick - dealing damage to enemies as you go, of course. Found in the Golden Arcade, you'll have to hunt this power down, but it's well worth getting.
In fact, it's perhaps only Jingle Bell Chompy Mage's main move,"Chompies to Go Please", that's a bit of a disappointment. A bit tricky to pull off, this sees you having to enter the Chompy Pile, jump out of it, and then press triangle to cause a load of chompies to burst out of the pile, and attack any nearby enemies. As it doesn't really seem to be that much more powerful than simply going around having chompies jumping out every few seconds normally, it seems like a bit of a wasted opportunity.
Still, one slightly disappointing move aside, Jingle Bell Chompy Mage is a great Christmas character - and a great character in his own right - that would make a fantastic addition to any collection. Silly, tongue in cheek, and with a fantastically Christmassy makeover, Jingle Bell Chompy Mage is a must buy for Skylanders fans - and if you only get one Chompy Mage, make sure you get this one, while it's still around!