Skylanders SuperChargers Review – Not Just for Kids (PS4)
Most of the gamers I know (including my past self) would dismiss any Skylanders title as just a boring game only kids could enjoy. Sure, the physical toys can come to life and that’s cool, but only to go through simple platformer levels with no substantial gameplay for those who have experienced the likes of Uncharted or Metal Gear Solid, right? You would be naively depriving yourself of an enormous amount of fun if you continued to hold such beliefs. Gamers like to play, and Skylanders: SuperChargers taps into the playful side of us all with endless ways to play like races of all shapes and colors, collectible characters full of personality, and story levels that introduce something totally new almost every time. Skylanders: Superchargers is absolutely not just for kids.
You Can’t Resist Collectibles
The collectible characters may seem like just a kind of cool perk of this game, but I found that even though I knew the little plastic characters in front of me weren’t REALLY coming to life, a childlike sense of wonder and giddiness came over me any time looked down, then back up to the screen, then down again, and I realized that those little plastic characters in front of me, like, came to life! Plus, this time they have vehicles! The thrill of collectibles, collecting, and personalizing, is just this unavoidable fascination for gamers that SuperChargers harnesses with an unflinching grip. The entire game has collectibles in every corner, like decorations for the Skylanders Academy that are also utilitarian, fun hats that give character buffs, and flashy vehicle upgrade parts. I never felt like the game was cheapened by the sheer amount of collectibles, either. Everything felt right.
Story levels have a lot to offer. Each one is in a totally new environment, and have three “stars” to complete using one of each vehicle type. You don’t have to complete each star activity, which makes the game playable with just the starter kit. That’s correct, no need to purchase any more characters or vehicles than the ones included in the kit. You will miss out on a significant amount of fun, however. My favorite vehicles are water vehicles, because of the splashy physics and creative races. Having a varied collection does help make the game more fun, not only because of the various vehicles, but because each character has great personality and upgrades totally unique to them. Each area of every level has an element type that gives the coordinating character a strength bonus, rewarding those who have amassed many of the spunky plastic toys. Not only that, but anyone who already has an investment in collecting previous Skylanders figures can use them in SuperChargers.
Card Games for the Win
Along with having three vehicles areas, story levels seem to introduce something new every time. One introduced explosive barrels that can ignite other things with the powder they trail behind. That same level introduced SuperChargers’ version of The Witcher 3’s Gwent card game, Skystones Overdrive. I was constantly surprised and delighted at each new thing to do. One level puts your character in different storybooks, in picturesque 2D. Another tosses you into a fighting arena where you must prove yourself and become the champion. Yet another leaves whole level covered in clouds, and you must use bugle horns to clear the way just long enough to memorize the path ahead.
Even though the story missions were a massive amount of entertainment, I found myself getting lost in the many extra things you can do at the hub world, Skylanders Academy (which expands to include more activities as you progress). You can race in many kinds of races, like online, timed, and villain battle. I normally don’t find enjoyment in racing in hardly any video game, but I absolutely loved these races. You can use your vehicles special abilities to shoot other racers ahead of you. Familiar rainbow-y boxes give you special power-ups, like the jukebox, which makes you fast and invincible while playing a little tune. As I mentioned, I loved the water courses. My favorite one involves an elemental deity that inhaled a dandelion seed, and started sneezing. With each sneeze, the “elements” flip and activate either blue or red, making you plan which boost rings you pass through. It’s fun details like these that polish off the races, and the rest of the game, too, making it fun for anyone who plays.
The design of the whole game is thorough and no detail is overlooked. Every environment is colorful and supports a narrative journey through the level. The main dialogue can be a little cheesy and oversimplified, but the quips loitering NPCs say when you talk to them had me laughing out loud most of the time. Not all of the humor is cheesy, like when the “darkness” talks to Lord Kaos in a svelte, deep voice. Overall, the humor made me laugh and added something extra to the game.
SuperChargers is a game that I can see myself replaying and keeping around, instead of reselling because there is so much to do, and I can even do it with a friend next to me. Two player local co-op is not quite a blast, but it is nice to have a friend next to you on this lighthearted adventure. They can choose their own character, and when a vehicle portion comes up, they control the weapons and gearbit collecting. You two can also compete in races of any kind without sharing a cockpit.
With the upgrades, collectibles, characters, vehicles, races, shiny loot, “card” game, power-ups, co-op, and new things to do in each level, this game is sophisticated enough to be fun for any player, young or old. I am happy to spend some money on a few extra characters because this is such a well-made game that promises a blast every time you start it up. Really the only things that frustrated me were the lack of any checkpoint system in story levels, as leaving the game starts you at the beginning, and one specific point after an optional vehicle area that always caused the game to crash the three times I slogged through the level to try it again. However, the checkpoint system becomes a non-issue if I simply plan on sitting down long enough to complete an entire story mission in one go. Try to get over the kids-only stigma Skylanders games might have, and let yourself enjoy playing in this world. Skylanders: Superchargers offers more than meets the eye, and you might find yourself pleasantly surprised.
Skylanders SuperChargers review copy provided by publisher. Reviewed on PS4. For information on scoring, please read our Review Policy here.