Be it land, or sea, or air, there are several vehicles to traverse each one.
Ever since Activision invented the toys-to-life genre with the original Skylanders, they've had to compete with Disney Infinity. While both series have improved greatly over the years, the latter has a distinct advantage because Disney uses established characters. Now that Disney has added Star Wars to their latest iteration, Skylanders needs something over-the-top to grab people's attention. Activision's answer to this call is letting players slam the pedal to the medal while driving different types of customizable vehicles. A whole lot of 'em!
The Skylanders Superchargers starter pack includes two new characters and one land vehicle, so all players can participate in a wide variety of high-octane adventures. Fortunately, this game doesn't simply offer cart-style racing (there's a separate mode dedicated to that). No, the main mode also offers wide open areas with vehicular puzzles as well as boss battles in dedicated arenas, and that's just the land vehicles. The control is loose and arcadey, and one cool addition is being able to have a friend add extra firepower by jumping in the vehicle and manning a powerful turret.
There are also similar levels for speedboats in the water and some fun underwater exploration areas where the boat transforms into a submarine. However, my favorite were the airborne levels where my flying vehicle is “on-rails” and I can concentrate strictly on combat. With twenty different vehicles, there's a lot of variety. Add in the ability to customize vehicles with different parts, and the result is a significant addition to the series. Vehicles are also necessary to unlock new areas, as the “elemental locks” from past games have practically been eliminated. This means players have to purchase at least one sea and one air vehicle to get the full experience, which isn't surprising.
While driving vehicles is a large part of Skylanders Superchargers, there's also plenty of action platforming to enjoy. I'm so glad that both combat and puzzles have evolved greatly from the basic versions found in the original title. In the new game, players have access to all kinds of wonderful abilities, such as telekinetic powers or a gun that shrinks and/or enlarges items. There's even a gravity weapon that lets players walk on walls; finally, a reason to purchase additional toys that has nothing to do with game completion and everything to do with collecting figures and having fun. As usual, there are dark versions of some characters who are more powerful than the originals.
One great addition to the series is the ability to play online. Now up to four players can join forces and venture out together in the main mode or compete against each other in a variety of races. This is great for friends to compete from the comfort of home and it lets everyone enjoy the action on a full screen. Since this game is mostly aimed at children, only people on each other's friends list can join together online. Luckily, two friends (or even two strangers) can play each other in the side-by-side offline multiplayer mode. There's nothing quite like talking smack to someone in the same room after you leave them in the dust!
Like past version of the game, players must place figures on the portal of power to send them into the game. Vehicles are used in the same way; simply place them next to the character on the portal of power. It's even possible to receive minor buffs from partnering certain figures with certain vehicles, so make sure to experiment with them all. Technically, figures from past games can be used in the current game, but they put players at a disadvantage due to their archaic abilities. It also seems like some of the new features from past games are practically useless now, like Swap Force and Giants. It would be nice if there was some way to upgrade past characters to make them more useful in new versions.
Skylanders Superchargers revs up its cyber-engine to offer fans a huge variety of vehicular and action platforming gameplay. After several iterations, this series now offers a surprising amount of depth, but it still lacks a serious challenge. Nevertheless, older gamers won't bemoan having to play this game with their children. In fact, they'll look forward to it.