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June 2019

Skylanders SuperChargers

Platform(s): Nintendo 3DS, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Wii, WiiU, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Vicarious Visions
Release Date: Sept. 20, 2015 (US), Sept. 25, 2015 (EU)


WiiU/PS4/XOne Preview - 'Skylanders Superchargers'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on June 24, 2015 @ 2:00 a.m. PDT

At the helm of powerful, tricked-out land, sea and sky vehicles, Portal Masters can engage in a high-octane action-adventure videogame like never before.

Skylanders has become one of the biggest franchises in the world. Older gamers might not recognize it, but kids around the world have fallen in love with the wild and wacky characters of the Skylanders universe. This year introduces one of the most interesting gimmicks to the franchise to date, Skylanders: Superchargers, which has the potential to be one of the franchise's biggest entries.

The name of the game in Superchargers is vehicles. This year's selection of Skylanders includes 20 "Supercharger" characters and 20 vehicles, each of which is a pair. Put a vehicle and a Skylander on the new portal, and you can use both of them at once, with the Skylander becoming the pilot and having an impact over the element and status of the vehicle. The vehicles are the real stars of the show, each representing a new way to explore. By default, you only need the land vehicles to finish the game. The one we saw in our demo was Hot Streak, a four-wheeled buggy armed with flamethrowers and turbo jets. Driving around looked familiar, with high-speed action, boost pads, and all sorts of cool racing elements.

In addition to land, there are also sea and air vehicles. Sea vehicles are similar to submarines, so they're slower than land vehicles but are heavily armed with torpedoes and weapons. To me, the real standout were the air vehicles. Sky stages have a full 360 degrees of freedom and seemed reminiscent of Star Fox. You can engage in dogfights, lock on to enemies, and do barrel rolls to avoid attacks.

Skylanders still includes on-foot gameplay. The new characters are Superchargers, who are companions to the vehicles. Each vehicle has a designated Skylander who goes with it. Spitfit goes with Hot Streak, and when you put both on the pad at once, they become "supercharged," which means the pair can access special items that the individuals couldn't. Those who'd rather not use the supercharged pair can still customize the vehicle with mods to upgrade its stats, similar to how you'd upgrade an on-foot Skylander.

Superchargers will support all of the old Skylanders figures, and there is no limitation on who can use the new vehicles. This was an intentional design choice to make sure that no figure felt outdated by the new vehicle-based status quo. As such, the toys aren't designed to fit into the vehicles, since the wide variety of sizes of Skylanders figures would make it difficult to fit. There is one noteworthy exception to this backward compatibility; last year's Trap boss characters are not directly supported by Superchargers, but a trap that contains a boss character can be used to gain special elemental weapons themed around that boss. You'll also gain a Skystone based on the captured villain.

Toy-wise, Superchargers has some of the biggest toys to date. The vehicles are actual cars, jets and subs you can use as you would any other similar toy, just with the added functionality of Skylanders integration. Some even have articulation, which allows kids to play with them outside of the game. A supercharger and its vehicle are not sold in packs, so you'll have to buy both to get the full features. It's been stressed that everything you need to finish the game is available in the starter pack.

Superchargers has another cool feature, although in this case, it is console exclusive. The Nintendo versions support two special Superchargers, Bowser and Donkey Kong. Both have been slightly redesigned to fit better into the Skylander's universe, but otherwise, they are exactly what you'd expect. Both have a series of special moves based on their iconic powers. Donkey Kong can use cannons to teleport, summon girders to fall on his enemies, play the bongos and, of course, throw barrels. Bowser is equipped with a giant spiked hammer that he can use to smash foes, and he can summon Koopa Troopers. He can transform into the giant Magma Bowser, similar to the deadly Giga Bowser from Smash Bros. Both also have their own vehicles, the Clown Cruiser and the Barrel Blaster. Donkey's pal Diddy even makes a special cameo appearance. The neat thing about these figures is that they also double as Amiibos, giving you two figures for the price of one. They are only available in the Nintendo starter packs, though.

Skylanders: Superchargers adds a new dimension to the Skylanders gameplay. The vehicle segments seem to be a drastic change, though it won't completely eclipse the old heroes. Both on-foot and vehicle segments will play a big part in the game, and it's clear that it'll be important to find the right vehicles and right heroes. Superchargers hits stores Sept. 20 for both current- and last-generation systems, as well as the Nintendo 3DS.

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