I can’t for one minute even make out that Skylanders SuperChargers is one for the hardcore gamers. From the minute you open the Starter pack, drag out the new Portal of Power and throw your first Skylander into the action, the bright colours, simple level designs and oh-so-dodgy gameplay mechanics are quite obviously set up for the younger audience.
But does that mean you shouldn’t even consider checking out the latest Skylanders title?
Well, I’m not really too sure you know. Because for all the simplicity that it brings, and the immense amount of cash that is required to fully enjoy everything it offers, it’s a fairly decent little playthrough. Albeit one that shouldn’t be taken too seriously.
Skylanders SuperChargers tells the story of a land in peril. The evil Kaos has unleashed his most powerful and destructive weapon yet – the Doomstation of Ultimate Doomstruction. You can probably guess by the name that it’s not something to be messed with and so a team of SuperChargers have been created with one goal in mind; pilot an incredible fleet of vehicles, traverse the land, the open air and the deep blue sea to stop Kaos from destroying Skylands.
Much of what you’ll find is standard Skylanders fayre with the gameplay changing up to a decent extent dependant on which characters you own and which of those you fancy placing on the portal for the moment at hand. The difficulty levels in place ensure that the older kids and those just starting out on their videogaming journey will find enough puzzles, enough action and the right amount of narration in order to push them along. I do however feel that the much younger children, who will no doubt want to get involved and play along with an older sibling, may just struggle to understand what is going on. They could probably be able to muddle their way through, but there are some moments which will mean you certainly can’t use SuperChargers as a way of keeping them distracted whilst you get on with something else. Not that you should be doing that with your children, but hey, we all know that goes down occasionally.
The platforming action that holds much of the gameplay is fairly decent stuff, but for someone who spends many more hours than I should sat with a controller in hand, I quickly find a couple of things a little irritating. Whilst I can just about put up with the constant ‘a land character will be stronger in this area’, whenever I decide to go into battle with a guy equipped with the wrong skills, I can fully understand that these tips will be useful for the audience it is being marketed to. However, I’m not sure anyone should have to put up with the majorly dodgy collision and battle mechanics, with shots that are seemingly dodged, hitting home with a destructive force every time.
However, the inclusion of vehicles to the Skylands now bring about a whole new set of dimensions. Played out like a simple Mario Kart, the vehicular side of things allows plenty of discovery and the chance to partake in a number of included races, but it would have been great to see an even bigger emphasis placed on the vehicles and races that have been included. Controls do take some time to get used to, especially if you are expecting to steer them like a standard vehicle, but give it ten minutes or so and you’ll be blasting your way around tracks and across levels like the best of them. Or at least you will be if you have enough vehicles to unlock each and every section, because if you decide to play Skylanders SuperChargers with just the Starter Kit in place, you’ll find that a huge section of the game is unplayable, with both races and side quests all requiring you to pop tp the shops and splash more cash to enter. But that said, what is available to even the most frugal of players is just about good enough.
The problem is that without getting your wallet out and expanding your collection of SuperCharger vehicles, there is much of the latest Skylanders title that is completely out of your reach. And this is emphasised upon you every five minutes, for even if you decide to completely ignore the locked side quests, the end of each standard mission lovingly gifts you with a star for completion, with further stars unlocked should you then play the same one again with an air or sea character/vehicle.
You could possibly decide to take your vehicles and characters online, attempting to experience everything that the Skylanders offer with others. The option to do just that is right there but I’m not entirely comfortable with a game so fully pointed at the kids being online compatible. There are thankfully a ton of warnings and the chance for parents to lock down any ‘unsuitable’ moments should they so wish, but will those make much of a difference? I’m not sure they would. That said, even if you switch it all on and go blazing some trails online, you’re going to seriously struggle to find much action in the online space anyway as it’s all super quiet and poorly populated.
Overall and Skylanders SuperChargers does exactly what it is meant to do. It’ll appeal to the kids, it’ll hammer the wallets of the parents and for the next year, or at least until the Skylanders find a new adventure to partake in, will battle it out with the likes of Disney Infinity and, to a lesser extent, LEGO Dimensions for the leading kids collectible title. If you’ve already got a huge collection of characters and have a Portal of Power sitting ready for action, then pop down the shops and grab a few vehicles for some super fun times because the racing elements are more than worth a shot. If you don’t, then expect to have to splash out a fair bit more in order to check it all out.
I just wish that Skylanders SuperChargers went further with a bit more of the Mario Kart love in!