Platforms PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Wii U, Wii, 3DS
Platform Played PS4 Genre Action Adventure
Developer Vicarious Visions Publisher Activision
Skylanders SuperChargers introduces vehicles to the series for the first time, and the entire package feels like it has been built around implementing them as much as possible. The focus is made absolutely clear when you first start the game, with the Portal of Power wanting your vehicle to be placed on the Portal before anything else. Fortunately all three vehicle types (sea, air, land) handle well, but the Starter Pack only contains a land-based vehicle. Racing gameplay feels like a solid mixture of Sonic All-Stars and a tame version of Mario Kart. Even on the highest difficulty races never posses that break neck speed that either aforementioned series produce, but it’s competent, responsive and entertaining.
Last year Skylanders Trap Team focused on the introduction of traps, but I never felt like a large amount of content was hidden behind an extra purchase; Skylanders SuperChargers feels like the polar opposite. Players will only have access to two racing tracks for their land-based vehicle, with other tracks locked behind vehicular types and extra packs. Racing either solo or with a cooperative friend is certainly fun, with Mario Kart-like items scattered throughout tracks to use in your venture to the front of the pack. But ultimately the lack of track quantity is a huge hindrance. It’s easy to become bored of the two tracks on offer, especially as the fastest speeds available don’t offer much challenge. Fortunately, cooperative and competitive racing with a friend is still available despite the Starter Pack lacking multiple vehicles. Players can simply use the same vehicle within the same track, which is certainly appreciated.
Players can also venture online to test their racing skills against other players, with voice chat options available for online friends. Connection during these online races were smooth, but finding a match took quite a while. Players can also only join the online competition on their own, with no option to bring a local second player to the online component.
The toys included in the Starter Pack themselves offers a diverse range manoeuvres. Though I did find both characters included to be less sturdy than Disney Infinity 3.0 and Trap Team‘s latest offerings, which is worth noting if your child is known for being a little rough on their Skylander figures. Stealth Elf delivers both a long range and an up close gameplay option, depending on what upgrades you choose. While Spitfire delivers a strong mixture of both play styles. The vehicle included in the pack is called Hot Streak and it actually doubles for an actual real-life playable toy, with moving wheels that make the vehicle come to live on and off the Portal.
The story in Skylanders SuperChargers is as well produced as ever, with picturesque cut scenes, beautiful levels and some charming dialogue. The latest adventure has our heroes trying to stop an ancient entity known as The Darkness, as Kaos plans to utilise this new power to take over Skylands. Though this predictable story is aimed at children, Skylanders SuperChargers delivers a charming adventure that can be enjoyed by all ages. My main issue with the campaign itself is the constant focus on delivering exposition, which takes the control away from the player too frequently and for too long. There will be times when control is taken away every few seconds, with cut scenes that then can last a few minutes before control returns. Sure, maybe children will find these scenes entertaining enough, but those wanting to enjoy the creative levels will find the constant removal of control to be a nuisance. SuperChargers also allows players to enter the challenging Nightmare difficulty from the start, which is bonus for players looking to test their skills right off the bat.
Levels within the campaign also have a strong focus towards the newly introduced vehicles, with levels typically containing a handful of short platforming sections tied together with linear driving parts.
Dealing with enemies is still basic, with each Starter Pack character only having a handful of attack moves. Though defeating enemies is simple, it’s very enjoyable. SuperChargers is constantly rewarding your efforts, from different hats to wear, experience to level up your character, coins to purchase upgrades and leveling your overall Portal Master abilities; with each new level offering your choice of bonus. Skylanders SuperChargers is also constantly adding new tools and puzzle elements to platforming sections, which keep these fresh and entertaining; something Trap Team lacked. One level players will be the size of ants, the next towering above tall buildings, and another utilising magnetism to solve puzzles. The variety kept me on my toes I loved the fact these variations continued up until the final credits.
Driving segments on the other hand are lacklustre, with most sections built into the campaign simply forcing players to drive through a linear stretch of road to their goal. Fortunately vehicle side quests offer some interesting variations, which can introduce some entertaining vehicular boss battles and much more. The problem is due to the fact only a land-based vehicle is included in the Starter Pack, all the air and sea missions are locked out.
Unlike Trap Team where additional purchase side missions felt small in the grand scheme of the campaign, these side quests in SuperChargers offer a large amount of some of the best gameplay in the game. It’s certainly unfortunate that so much content is locked behind vehicle type constraints, but those who were looking for incentive to purchase more vehicles will definitely find bang for their buck. It’s a double edged sword as Skylanders SuperChargers struggles to manage the value of consumers simply purchasing the Starter Pack and those purchasing additional content. The incentive to buy more is certainly prevalent, but I can’t help feeling that those purchasing the Starter Pack alone are missing a great deal of the overall package. For those experiencing the campaign cooperatively, players can share the driving and shooting features of vehicles between one another with no extra vehicle purchase required.
Vehicles in Skylanders SuperChargers can also be upgraded with a variety of modifications that are found throughout the campaign. These are mostly cosmetic differences with only slight attribute variations on each mod. Aside from the campaign players can also visit the Academy, which is the main hub world connecting every facet of Skylanders SuperChargers together.
Characters at the Academy will also offer bonus missions, but these missions are strangely hidden behind a timed system. These characters only offer three new missions each day and if a mission requires a vehicle type you don’t have, you cannot play any of these missions until the next day. The timed system is obtrusive and the fact some of these challenges require content that isn’t in the Starter Pack is quite shocking. The challenges themselves can be something as simple as winning a race, or replaying sections of levels to kill a number of enemies. The addition of bonus missions for those who finish the campaign is appreciated, but the timed nature and the fact if a mission contains an item you don’t own you cannot play, is an unfortunate aspect. There is also no feature to simply skip a mission that requires an additional item you may not possess in real life.
One of my favourite features in Skylanders Trap Team was the simplified card game known as Skystones, unfortunately SuperChargers has made these matches a broken mess. I have experienced over a dozen instances where a match of Skystones has resulted in the game freezing, halting progression, or simply requiring my PlayStation 4 system to be reset. This is a real shame because collecting Skystones and battling AI opponents is a lot of fun when it works, with new features included that utilise the vehicle placed on your Portal. But due to the incessant technical problems experienced, I was forced to avoid these matches.
This isn’t the only area where Skylanders SuperChargers featured technical issues, even in general gameplay I was forced to experience the same problems. Moving from Trap Team which provided a flawless technical experience, to the problem riddled offering of SuperChargers is a big step back in the series.
Skylanders SuperChargers has some great new features, which include the addition of vehicles. These new inclusions don’t just feel like a simple gimmick, instead the solid racing gameplay on offer is a lot of fun. I just wish there were more options to enjoy it within the Starter Pack, with additional tracks and dozens of vehicular side missions requiring additional purchases to experience.
Skylanders SuperChargers does offer a superior campaign in comparison to Trap Team, which includes a large variety of interesting tools and features, keeping the entire campaign fresh throughout. Unfortunately the incessant technical issues and obsession with taking control away from the player, instead make SuperChargers feel like one step forward and two steps back.
Overall, Skylanders SuperChargers introduces a lot of interesting and well delivered features, but unfortunately a lack of technical polish and an obscene amount of content locked behind additional purchases, hampers the overall package.
- Solid racing gameplay.
- Campaign variety.
- Small amount of racing tracks.
- Technical issues.
- Takes control away from the player too frequently.
- Lots of quality content locked behind additional purchases
The Score: 6.8