Activision and Vicarious Visions’ Skylanders are back once again this year, but this time around they’re bringing new tools to their arsenal to combat the never-ending threat that is Kaos. In Skylanders: Superchargers, a new team of Skylanders is called forth to defend the Skylands, equipped with all-new vehicles to bring the fight against evil on land, sea and air. But is driving about colorful worlds in souped-up rides enough to keep the franchise from getting stale?
Developed by Vicarious Visions / Published by Activision
Available on the PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, and Wii U. Reviewed on the PS4.
*Review copy provided by Activision
In Skylanders: Superchargers, Kaos is once again up to his mischief, this time summoning the darkness itself while successfully capturing Skyland’s guardian Master Eon and most of the heroes who have fought against him in the past. Now the portal master is once again beckoned forth to lead the charge against Kaos and his minions, but this time bringing a few new Skylanders and their preferred method of awesome transportation in tow.
Gameplay-wise, Superchargers plays exactly as previous entries in the series, and that’s great, as it’s as solid as ever. Players still take control of the summoned Skylanders, fight off a variety of enemies using unique attacks, and engage in some light puzzles and platforming strewn about fantastic and colorful environments that’ll have players searching every nook and cranny for hidden goodies and collectables. The controls are simple and as tight as ever too, so kids won’t have any trouble getting around the Skylands and fending off Kao’s minions over and over again, as well as leveling up their characters to get stronger to face off against bigger foes.
The biggest addition, the new Superchargers and their vehicles, do a great job at refreshing the tried-and-true gameplay by adding new action-packed driving segments that change the way players move about the world, and while they get repetitive after a while, they are pretty entertaining. On land, in the air, or in water, players can drive around large open areas to explore and reach new places, which is pretty great, as it gives players a break with slow running Skylanders and opens up worlds quite nicely by adding more room to move around in. Vehicles come with an attack as well to decimate foes, adding some vehicular combat to the game.
Now this doesn’t mean that players can hop into a vehicle whenever they want though, as the Supercharger vehicles only come into play during specific sections and areas of the campaign, which kind of makes less spectacular than you would initially believe, but it’s still enjoyable. Some of these sections are part of the game’s main path, allowing players to drive around, race down tracks, complete time trials, fight dozens of baddies, and more, while others are side areas that can only be accessed if you have the right type of vehicle, meaning you’ll need to purchase at least three of them to get into all of these places or else you’ll miss out on the content.
Outside of the main campaign however, players can check out the new Skylander Academy hub to participate in other vehicle-oriented activities, such as Supercharger specific time trials, elemental missions that are designed around the vehicles’ element, and races at the speedway, which play extremely similar to kart racers such as Mario Kart, as players drive, swim or fly around lap-based courses picking up powerups and using them against rivals to make it to first place. The variety in vehicle activities really makes the franchise feel fresher than ever before, and it’ll keep players coming back for more with daily quests and the ability to earn races against villains in order to unlock them.
Another new addition is online play, which allows friendly portal masters to compete against each other at the races, team up for some co-op, or play a friendly round of Skystones Overdrive, an in-game collectable card game. Playing local co-op has always been fun, but having the ability to play with others online is definitively a step in the right direction.
The rest of the experience is pretty straightforward and similar to previous iterations, but it’s still an entertaining and solid game. As usual, there are branching paths that will only open if is a Skylander is of the correct element, hundreds of collectables – like hats, all-new vehicle parts to mod and strengthen vehicles, Skystone Overdrive cards, soul gems, story scrolls and more, as well as new abilities, side quests, and so on. There’s plenty to do and find in this latest adventure, so players will be busy for quite some time.
While it ultimately is more of the same, Skylanders Superchargers is an excellent addition to the franchise that does a great job at freshening the formula by adding vehicles that substantially change up the overall experience. While that means that it’s even more money you’ll have to cough up in order to see and play through everything, driving, flying and fighting in new open environments and having a chance to race against friends is a fun time, and the classic action adventure gameplay is as great as ever. Kids, parents and fans can’t go wrong with this one.