I was concerned going into this review. Although Skylanders were the pioneers of the Toys-to-Life genre, they are no longer the leader in the field; however, I was pleasantly surprised by Superchargers and to date, Superchargers was the most enjoyable Skylanders experience I’ve had.
The story, as always, revolves around Kaos getting up to his old tricks. I thought by now Kaos would be tired of Skylands and would have moved on to a new hobby other than conquering, but he was pretty successful this time around, so it just goes to show: just keep at it kids; eventually you can achieve your dreams. With the help of our old friends Flynn, Hugo, and Cali, players will set about to rescue Master Eon from Count Moneybone’s imprisonment. While the story is nothing to write home about, Superchargers has easily become my favourite Skylanders title. With the return of the minigame Skystones (last seen on console in Skylanders: Giants) and the introduction of the superchargers, there’s no question why I found this so delightful. Also, it didn’t hurt that by now I have amassed quite the collection of Skylander figures to play with. However, let’s get some of the negative aspects out of the way first.
The main gripe I have about Superchargers is how incomplete the game feels when only using the starter set. Out of box, players are unable to complete extra quests or unlock many collectibles as different vehicles are needed. While this is not new to Skylanders (additional figures have always required purchasing to complete various challengers), now that Skylanders is no longer the only franchise in this space, they need to update their ways. Their competitors offer a far more “complete” feeling in their campaigns, never really shoving it in the player’s face that they should (or be it NEED) to buy additional figures. I’d enter into an area and an NPC would automatically start telling me about a quest only brave Skylanders could handle, usually to help rescue people. I, of course, being the bravest Skylander and most noble of creatures, wanted to help these helpless NPCs and sky folks. However, I would be shot down due to my lack of a sky or water vehicle. Some hero I am.
Well, it wouldn’t be called Superchargers without some driving involved! The driving mechanics work in two ways. On a track, which is very kart-standard controls and camera, no problems, but then there are more arena style sections. These sections can be rather frustrating. It feels like you’re driving on butter, slipping all over the place and difficult to control. Eventually I got a handle on it and was able to complete the tasks, but there were some rage-fueled moments leading up to that success. When on the track, car mods can be located in the middle of a big-air jump. If you grab one, your car will stop mid-air to excitedly display the new mods and its stats. Nice, but, now my adrenal rush of putting pedal to the metal has been halted, leading me to not even inspect the mod and instead push the button as fast as possible to get back to hauling butt down the track.
The racing aspect of Superchargers is rather enjoyable. It doesn’t feel tacked-on or an afterthought, but that there was time and planning that went into the tracks. And although Skylanders often feels like a giant hand in your pocket, this is forgotten when racing. It is possible to even race split-screen right out-of-the-box. My roommate and I were able to race against each other just using the one vehicle and two Skylanders that were provided with the Superchargers starter pack. The racing controls are smooth and not as complex as ones in Mario Kart. You’re thinking, “Mario Kart… complex?” Trust me, I’m horrible at Mario Kart but I could actually perform well when racing in Superchargers.
The Superchargers aesthetic fits in perfectly to the continuing Skylanders franchise. Not much has been updated in the way of gameplay, other than the addition of the Superchargers, but if it ain’t broke… The controls, outside previously mentioned arena driving, are smooth; I had little to no problems with character movement. The spark puzzles, now engine themed, are not overly challenging, but an amusing bit of gameplay. The dialogue is campy on the right level to entertain children and adults alike. I giggled when I met Prong, James Prong. But best of all, ALL the Skylanders figures work in Superchargers. Even old Skylanders are able to pilot vehicles. Fans will view Superchargers as the next evolution in Skylanders and I hope to see the vehicles being used in incoming Skylanders titles because it really does add a whole new layer of first-rate entertainment to the mix. Let’s rock and ride!