The starting grid.
Skylanders is still the undisputed king of the toys-to-life genre. Every iteration always reminds me that this is the most polished, and well-designed of the bunch. That doesn’t mean it comes without its issues. Giants was the first misstep as the larger characters moved too slow, and really added nothing to the overall formula of the series. Since then things have been smooth sailing with incremental upgrades, and interesting new characters. Superchargers takes the biggest risk the series has seen to date by adding vehicles, the results are a mixed bag to say the least.
The starter kit comes with one land vehicle, but the game also has water and air segments, sold separately of course. The latter two are not required to beat the core game, much like previous games. What is mostly absent this time around are areas locked off by specific Skylanders. Instead the extra segments are mostly tailored to the different vehicles in the game. These segments also account for about half of the experience, so whether or not players enjoy these, will play a big role in their enjoyment of the title.
MSRP: $64.99 (starter kit) $99.99 (Dark Edition) $12.99 (characters) $15.99 (vehicles)
Platforms: XB1, PS4, 360, PS3, Wii U, 3DS
Price I’d Pay: $64.99
The vehicle segments were hit and miss for me. I really enjoyed the flying segments. They were simple and fun, without much getting in the way. They also provided a nice change of pace from the core game. The boat segments felt more contrived and forced. I rarely enjoyed the missions involving the seafaring vehicles. The driving was the most divisive. The control scheme takes a while to get used to and the races felt chaotic most of the time.
The other half of the game, the one derived from the original Skylanders formula though, is superb. The team sprinkled in several unique levels that really mix up the formula. I want an entire game just based on the concepts they used. From a side-scrolling level to one with a shrink/enlarge gun, the ideas scattered in between the vehicle segments are truly the best the series has seen in years.
This makes the other portions stick out even more. There is finally an online component to Skylanders, but its focus is on the racing portion of the game. The tracks are fantastic. Really well designed and visually stunning, but the racing component is just plain boring at times. The items players pick up automatically fire, and the races just are not that exciting. It works fine, but it just isn’t something I see myself sinking any amount of time doing.
The most impressive part of the Skylanders games has always been backwards compatibility. Superchargers is no exception, every single figure, Giant, Trap, and Swap figure still works in some form or fashion. That means my massive collection is not useless in the new game. The new portal is of course required because of the size needed to house the vehicles, and there is a slot in the back for traps. Of course with collecting over time more issues arise. Now not only do I have to swap characters, I have to swap vehicles and traps when needed. This becomes an issue with everything laid out. It is finally becoming too much. I really wish I could just scan in all my toys and swap on-the-fly – that is the real innovation I am waiting on in this series.
Visually this is the best-looking game in the series to date. Every level is fun to traverse, and the performance holds its own. I really enjoyed the themed levels and even the race tracks are well-designed. Everything about the game screams quality. Familiar voice actors return to reprise their roles, and the music is once again memorable. The production values of these games never cease to amaze me with every iteration.
Skylanders Superchargers is an interesting entry in the series. On one hand it has some of the best moments in the franchise. On the other hand the vehicles are not realized well enough to be a great addition. Combine that with the fact that swapping out up to three different toys at a time becomes cumbersome and not ideal for just jumping in and having fun. The series is getting long in the tooth, but I still think it has plenty left to offer, and if they continue with the vehicles in future games, I hope they iron out the problems presented in this version.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.