Skylanders Superchargers – Review
PS3, PS4, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One
It seems like an age but it was only 5 years ago that the toys to life phenomenon entered our lives with Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure. Since that point we have had 4 Skylanders games, 3 Disney Infinity entries, the Nintendo Amiibo craze and most recently Lego Dimensions. These games have all tapped into the childlike joy associated with making a physical item become a virtual one, bringing both kids and perhaps surprisingly adults along for the ride. So what can the granddaddy of the genre offer with its latest entry Superchargers? Well as it turns out quite a bit.
Every year each Skylanders game has had a new gimmick designed to get players to buy some more toys and Superchargers is no different in that respect. This year’s theme is vehicles and there is a host of collectable planes, cars and boats that can be added to the game. Each of these vehicles are used in both racing and platforming situations giving them a significant amount of diversity. Another added bonus is they can also be upgraded with custom parts and improvements to weapons and shields. The racing sections are great and while it isn’t at the level of Mario Kart (what is?) it isn’t far off. There is even a selection of tracks, GP’s time trials and other events that make Skylanders Superchargers an impressive kart racer in its own right.
The platforming elements this year have also improved significantly. The game is no longer a simple “jump here, kill this” proposition. There are some nice puzzles, stealth sections, combat arenas and even one amazing level that turns the game into a 2D side scrolling platformer ala Rayman. Controls are responsive and each unique Skylander character plays slightly differently making it a joy to switch characters on the fly. Don’t be put off by the fact that this isn’t Mario or Banjoo, Skylanders is a great 3D platformer and deserves praise for that.
One thing that needs congratulating is the more streamlined business model for the game. Gone are the element gates from previous games that required the player to own one Skylander of each element to access certain areas of the game. Now the only requirement to see everything the game has to offer is to have one Superchargers character and one of each style of vehicle. That means players only have to purchase two more items on top of the starter kit (one plane and one boat) to be able to see everything the game has to offer. This is no doubt a move in the right direction for the money conscious folks out there. It is by far the least money hungry the Skylanders franchise has ever been.
Skylanders: Superchargers is also the first game in the series to include online multiplayer in the form of racing events. It is quite a simple set up but perfect for introducing younger players to the world of online fun. There are some nice parental options as well for switching off chat and the like so mums and dads can be confident of their young ones playing in a safe space. The game also offers a simplified (yet highly entertaining) version of Hearthstone (with cards collected by finding secrets in the main game) which is the perfect way to welcome kids to the highly addictive world of CCG’s.
Perhaps the biggest problem the game has is that despite the excellent gameplay on offer it still markets its self as a kid’s game. Both the writing and the voice work are kept basic and childish meaning that skipping cutscenes and dialogue is a must to enjoy the game. The sad thing is that even children are likely to find this patronising and annoying (I know mine did). The character voiced by Patrick Warburton (long time voice actor and of course The Tick) is particularly toxic inciting a powerful desire to inflict bodily harm on this septic excuse for a character. There is no reason that this needs to be the case, creating a family game doesn’t require things to be dumbed down or simplified. The developers need to have more faith in their audience.
But really that is about all that can be complained about in this great family focused game. This is must buy for Skylanders fans and the perfect entry point for someone that has never experienced the world before. Tight platforming, inventive levels and some great racing action make this easily the best Skylanders game yet. Forget the ordinary writing and voice work because there is a lot of fun to be had here. The biggest problem of course is the need to build some shelves areound the house to hold all the Skylanders toys you will likely buy as a result of playing the game, but surely that isn’t a bad thing?