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Skylanders: SuperChargers Preview: 2 Charged 2 Awesome

/ Jul 14th, 2015 No Comments

Skylanders: SuperChargers

It feels like Skylanders has been around forever, but the series only began in 2011, when Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure launched. From its humble beginnings, Skylanders has grown to become a juggernaut of family-friendly entertainment, and the originator of the “toys-to-life” genre of video games. The series has released three full games since Spyro’s Adventure, with the upcoming Skylanders: SuperChargers being the fourth.

The novelty of placing toys on a NFC reader to bring the figures into the game has since worn off. To stay relevant in an increasingly competitive market, Skylanders evolved over each new game. Whether it was introducing giants, swappable and customizable characters, or trappable villains, the series has not shied away from shaking things up. Superchargers focuses on expanding gameplay by bringing a wide range of vehicles into Skylands.

While never afraid to change up the formula or incorporate a new idea, will this be significant enough to keep up with heavy competition in the genre this holiday season?

Awesome My SuperCharger

Not only will vehicles be a large part of gameplay, but they are also getting the physical treatment with their own toys. Much like Skylanders character figures, SuperCharger vehicles have a similar high quality build with good detail work. The vehicular toys feature moving wheels and articulation where it makes sense, keeping with Skylanders all-play philosophy.

The SuperCharger vehicles cover all terrains, including hover jets, ships, cars and motorcycle. Every Skylander can drive, pilot,and captain any of the supercharged vehicles. Skylanders characters pile into the vehicles to be visible when in use.
 

Skylanders: SuperChargers

Hold your breath because we got subs!

While any Skylander can use any vehicle, Supercharger vehicles experience a special bonus and custom appearance when paired with their corresponding SuperChargers. For example, pairing GillGrunt and the Reefripper soupes up the submarine with a gnarly grill and bonus lightning powers.

Much like Skylanders of all ilk, SuperCharger vehicles can be upgraded to become more effective in combat. Every vehicle can be modded with new parts found during the game. These different mods upgrade the stats and change the look of the vehicle. For the Reefripper, players can change the grill and other aspects to customize it to their liking while making it more awesome in battle.

Vehicles can also be upgraded with gear bits found during vehicle sections. These bits range from blue to gold, and players are rewarded with more gear bits for good performances in vehicle areas. These upgrades improve the performance of vehicles.

By Air, Land and Sea

Skylanders had some form of vehicules for a while now. However, it hasn’t been particularly compelling as it has only been window dressing. Since vehicles are a focus in SuperChargers, the vehicle sections of gameplay naturally receive a much needed revamp to make them more dynamic and meaty.
 

Skylanders: SuperChargers

Born to roll!

In the demonstration for the game, three different terrain sections were shown off. The Reefripper was used to give a feel for the underwater sections. The sub navigated the deep waters to find three different triggers to open grates blocking the Skylanders’ path forward. The combat and movement looked smooth if not a bit straight forward.

For land, the Hot Streak was broken out. Much of the section involved driving around an arena taking out enemies. The driving and handling seemed tight and not floaty, which is a benefit because cars often handle like junk in games. The sky section involved flying a Sky Slicer through hostile air space while shooting down enemy flyers. The 3D dog fighting felt familiar since shooting down aircraft has been a big part of the series in the past.
 

Skylanders: SuperChargers

Where we’re going we don’t need roads!

Despite being much more robust and revamped, the vehicle sections were hard to get a feel for based solely on watching gameplay. Everything seemed right in terms of controls and gameplay mechanics, but one issue that Skylanders has fought in the past is everything feeling right. Whether vehicles are a huge boon to the series will come down to how everything feels and how fast all these different vehicle move through their respective sections.

High Fidelity

Despite being on current-gen systems for two games, Trap Team and SwapForce never felt like they took advantage of the increased power of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. If there is one exciting thing about SuperChargers, it is the improved visuals and graphic fidelity on new-gen systems.

The environments this time around are much more advanced. A level shown during the demo had the Skylanders traversing a dragon’s back. Physics and interactions with objects looked great and the dragon had gorgeous detailing. The PS4 version we saw featured great draw distance. The new physics interactions will help influence some of the game’s puzzles, making the environment feel more alive.

Openness and Diversity

SuperChargers signals a smarter direction for the series in other ways not related to gameplay, the most exciting being the strategic partnership with Nintendo to create special guest stars in Turbo Charge Donkey and Hammer Slam Bowser. These cleverly crafted guest heroes have reverential and referential move sets that are sure to delight fans. They can also function both as SuperChargers and amiibo.
 

Skylanders: SuperChargers

The collaboration between Skylanders and Nintendo is a clever move.

However, there is an even smarter move sure to satisfy long-time fans of the series. Skylanders: SuperChargers will have a Digital Portal Owners Pack allowing players to download the game with two digital characters from the new game. This digital pack can use any portal and has the ability to read new SuperCharger characters and vehicles without issue, as well as all the older Skylanders owners currently have. Removing the hefty starter pack bar of entry for the series may be the best move for Skylanders: SuperChargers.

 

Kalvin Martinez

Kalvin Martinez

Senior Editor at Gaming Illustrated
Kalvin Martinez studied Creative Writing at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He writes reviews, prose and filthy limericks. While he is Orange County born, he now resides in Portland, OR. He is still wondering what it would be like to work at a real police department. Follow Kalvin on Twitter @freepartysubs
Kalvin Martinez

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