I didn’t get a chance to play the original Skylanders games before. I knew it was a spin-off of Spyro the Dragon, involved using toys to play the game, and it just didn’t catch my eye at the time. “I have to use figures on a base to play?” just rubbed me the wrong way. Some time over the last few years though, I thought I should be fair and check it out. I’ve decided to give the series a chance as I found myself missing colorful games, and Skylanders looked to have that in plentiful abundance. Games that gave me that classic platforming, bouncy, happy worlds feeling back during the N64 and PlayStation era. So I sat there with Skylanders SuperChargers having only played some of Giants and Swap Force. When I walked away from my time with SuperChargers, I can sum it up in few words: a lot of fun and so many smiles.
Skylanders always features the villain Kaos attempting to thwart the world with his evil plans. This time he narrates how he has failed countless times but this time it will be different (but we all know he’s wrong). He has captured a ton of folks from the Skylands and constructed a machine called the Skyeater, which does just that. Cue the music for the player to take over as one of the many various figures and save the day, once again. While stories in this franchise are simple enough to serve the plot and gameplay, SuperChargers is more in depth, fleshed out, funny, and intense then it has any right to be for a game aimed at kids and family.
For those that haven’t joined in on the fun the franchise provides, the gameplay is rather easy to get into and offers players the ability to kick some butt as they track their way across the various worlds in the game. Players and a friend can play with the two characters the starter pack provides, along with the one vehicle. When playing as the characters abilities such as jump, attack, level up, and solve puzzles are part of the standard gameplay from previous game. In those prior games, areas of specific characters elements like fire, water, or earth, would determine if players could access those select areas of the game. Skylanders SuperChargers has a similar system but it’s a little different and incorporates the vehicles this time. While some areas still get character boosts depend on their elemental, the vehicles are what really lock away the addition parts. While the car vehicle and two characters that come with the starter kit will allow completion of the entire game, nabbing a sea and air vehicle will allow folks to see the whole scope and give even more variation in gameplay then the base game already offers.
Vehicles is the newest addition to the franchise and it adds a huge element of variation in a few ways. Starting with what come in the starter kit, the land vehicle has two types of gameplay. One is forward racing, setpiece moments that offer some fantastic visual splendor and fun chases. If this was all the vehicles offered, I’d still have a great time with it. The second type is more arena based where you and the car are locked into a specific area and must do battle with enemies or reach certain objectives. While it’s not the deepest of gameplay, your car still gains experience points like your Skylanders do and you can upgrade the car with various stat boosting abilities. If you place the same elemental characters into a matching type vehicle, it becomes supercharged and even stronger with a flashier transformed look, it just looks cool. Since only one vehicle can be used at a time, when playing co-op one person shoots while the other drives, so team work is a necessity and definitely encouraged even more so.
What the other two vehicles bring to the gameplay are completely different also. Water vehicles lead to arena areas and forward moving segments similar to the car, but also with the ability to go under water, raising depth height, and shooting torpedoes. It also offers moments of 2d style segments of exploration. Air segments follow suit as well with the other vehicles but lead to arenas that play out like Star Fox, with dog fights taking place in the sky, flipping around, and taking out the bad guys with homing attacks. The vehicles offer such a unique type of gameplay to the overall core structure of the game. I couldn’t be happier with this, but I can also see this as a double edged sword. The vehicles element is a huge part of this iteration and if players don’t enjoy the controls or what these levels offer, might find themselves with mixed thoughts. The core Skylanders gameplay is still there but it’s definitely shared screen time with the new vehicle based gameplay.
There is a plethora of gameplay and variation in Skylanders SuperChargers. Huge worlds to visit, co-op gameplay both online and off, and the new vehicle segments really made my day. It’s not often that I come to the conclusion that a game I had been wanting to play casually, turning into something I absolutely adore. Skylanders SuperChargers had me grinning and smiling with wonder and charm the entire time I was playing it. It offers even its own racing segment via the hub world that made me want a completely standalone racing game from the team. Yes you still need figures and yes it can be cumbersome to switch all the time, but if you can look past that and can appreciate those moments of feeling like a kid again with the new vehicle segments, SuperChargers is just the ticket for you and your family.
An Xbox One Starter Pack was provided by the publisher for review purposes