October 7, 2015

Skylanders Superchargers

Lasting First Impressions

It’s been five years since the original Skylanders created the Toys to Life genre of games and took the gaming scene by storm.  Five years and billions of dollars later, Skylanders Superchargers has a big job ahead of itself.  No longer is this franchise alone in the universe. No longer is it guaranteed to dominate the market with their extra toys and playsets.  The Toys to Life genre is now becoming crowded with Disney Infinity entering their third year, Nintendo having introduced Amiibos that work with multiple games, and now we have Lego Dimensions breaking into the market.  So, after so many years being in the number one spot, can Skylanders Superchargers continue to charge their way into the hearts of gamers, young and old alike?

In the past, Skylanders relied on new characters to mix up what we were used to buying and playing. After the original Skylanders, we were introduced to the Giants, essentially oversized Skylander characters, followed by the Swap Force whose jumbo characters could, quite literally, swap tops and bottoms to create hundreds of new characters.  Finally, last year, we met the Trap Team and a way to use traps to store and play with the villains of the game.  In all these iterations, however, the essential gameplay of Skylanders never actually changed.  We had new stories and new characters, but we played the game the same way year after year.  And that was just fine since Skylanders was on top of the world and fans would play and buy new toys regardless.

Now, however, gamers have a choice.  Disney Infinity just introduced the timeless franchise of Star Wars into their game, and Lego Dimensions pulls on the heartstrings of every Lego fan the world over.  This simply means Skylanders must change things up just enough to keep their fans as rabid as ever.  In this humble reviewer’s mind, they’ve done just that.  By introducing vehicles into the game in the form of Land, Air, and Sea vehicles, Skylanders Superchargers has brought a new style of gameplay to the game that is both exciting and refreshing. (Note: I was not able to actually experience any of the Air or Sea missions at the time of this writing as I only have one land vehicle available to me).

Skylanders Superchargers Screen (3)

While the core elements of Skylanders Superchargers remains intact when it comes to character based gameplay and combat, it is the vehicle based levels that really shine this year.  The game offers three different types of vehicle areas: Land, Sea, and Air.  The starter bundle for the game includes a land vehicle and its associated Supercharger Skylander character.  All the new characters available this season (some of which are rehashed versions of previous characters) are called “Superchargers”.  This means that, when one character is paired with their own vehicle on the portal, both they and their vehicle become “Supercharged” dealing more damage to enemies.  This year there will be 20 Supercharger characters and 20 vehicles for a whopping 40 new toys to buy and collect.  That being said, the main story in Skylanders Superchargers can be completed without purchasing new vehicles or characters.  Only the land based vehicle levels are part of the core story.

Skylanders Superchargers Screen (1)

Be warned, however, that driving vehicles in Skylanders Superchargers is not like driving vehicles in a racing game. This took me some time to figure out when I first started playing the game until I finally discovered that vehicles are controlled just the same as the characters.  Essentially, the core controls do not change when switching from a character to a vehicle.  Though the gameplay does.  The vehicle levels are fast and furious and a delightful change from the normally slow going character stages.  Still, to this day, I feel like the Skylanders walk too slowly, so these vehicle based sequences are a welcome change to the series.

With vehicles added to the game, naturally Skylanders Superchargers offers new multiplayer modes to enjoy the new gameplay together: Races.  Get together with a friend, choose your desired race type (Land, Sea, or Air), place your vehicles on the portal, and away you go.  These are Mario Kart inspired races with power ups and weapons designed to slow down your competition and win the race. Playing this with my daughter at a recent media event, these challenges were thrilling. She and I both had a great time playing and it truly felt like something we’d expect out of the Nintendo camp.

Skylanders Superchargers Screen (4)

In this crowded Toys to Life genre of gaming, Skylanders Superchargers ups the ante with the addition of vehicles into the core game. This is just enough to keep it distinguished from the competition by adding something fresh and exciting to what could easily have become a stale franchise.  It it evident that Skylanders is here to stay and shows no sign of slowing down.

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About the Author

Sean is an avid gamer and lover of all thing tech. He is a dedicated husband and the father to three beautiful daughters. In addition to taking his love of gaming to a new level with this site, Sean is also host of our podcasts: The OMG! Hour, Lost Treasures of Gaming, and Primetime as well as the bi-weekly podcast mashup show, Gamers Unscripted. Follow Sean on Twitter as @Xiantayne and this blog as @OMGnexus.



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