Skylanders SuperChargers has been announced today and brings with it vehicle toys for special Skylanders to pilot and modify. It's a bold move that not only adds more value but changes how the game plays on the screen.
There will be 20 vehicles to collect, each one with a special SuperCharger Skylander that can unlock additional features and customisations. For example, placing Hot Streak on the Portal will bring in a fully customisable hot rod into the game. Add in its related owner, Spitfire, and you unlock some extra buffs. Progressing through the game opens up an ever wider array of mods to apply, mixing and matching wheels, engines and bodywork.
The Starter Pack includes the Hot Streak vehicle, Sure Shot Stealth Elf and SuperCharger Spitfire along with the new rubberised portal. A nice touch with the portal is that it includes a slot for the Traps - however, in SuperChargers they are not used to capture villains but bring additional power-ups to the vehicles instead.
The game will be coming to all the usual platforms including Wii U, Wii and 3DS. This year though, the Wii will get a "complimentary" experience rather than the same as the more powerful platforms. It will be interesting to see how this makes use of the vehicles and differs to the main game.
The Skylanders series has held out the longest matching the Wii game to the other consoles, but it is understandable with more procedural elements this year it was a bridge too far. Still, it's good to see the Wii getting some love with its own game, though.
With an eye on value this year, the Portal Owners pack lets those who already have a previous game to download SuperChargers and reuse their old portal. If you have access to a portal from any of the previous games back to Skylanders Giants, you can use it here. This is particularly useful for Wii owners of Skylanders who have since upgraded to Wii U. They can download the game and reuse the Wii portal on the Wii U.
The vehicles are a nice novelty and add some on-the-carpet play value for kids, but it's in the game where the SuperCharger vehicles make the biggest difference. A lot of attention has been paid here to how each of the different vehicles handles. There are land, air and water-based modes of transport, and each feels very different.
The game world also impacts on this handling. Take the submarine for example. The sea is procedurally generated and must be navigated to get the best performance. This really felt a lot like Wave Race back on the N64, with each wave knocking you off course if you hit it at the wrong angle. This new vehicle play is mixed with more standard on-foot challenges. Two player co-op is provided again, although in the vehicle sections players tag-team so that one steers while the other shoots — Skylanders Double Dash anyone?
One slightly odd decision in our book is that you can't put the Skylander toy character into the vehicle like you can in the game. This would have made the toy side of the experience much stronger. As it is, you have a vehicle and character that look similar and obviously go together but must remain separate.
On first impressions, Skylanders SuperChargers looks impressive. The vehicles add more than just a passing novelty and create an experience that feels like Skylanders mixed with Mario Kart, Star Fox and Wave Race.
Skylanders SuperChargers will be released on PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, iPad, Nintendo Wii U, Wii and 3DS. The game releases September 20th in North America and September 25th [not the 24th as was previously reported] in Europe. Excited? Let us know by posting a comment.