Posted Tue Jun 16, 2015 at 10:00 AM PDT by Brian Hoss
Vicarious Visions does major and subtle in equal strokes.
There have been a lot of installments for 'Skylanders,' not to mention the growing plethora of imitators. As the sets of figures have grown, so has the feature set of each game. The expectation then has to be that a new 'Skylanders' title is going to be packed with stuff to do and is going to boast a major new feature. For this year, Activision has the series' maverick, Vicarious Visions, at bat to bring something major to the latest family-friendly installment, and as it turns out, 'Skylanders SuperChargers' is equally major and subtle when it comes to additions.
First things first, 'Skylanders' has been built on the back of an ever-growing number of figures, all of which can be used in this newest game. This is par for the series, but the thing is, 'Skylanders' are essentially toy figures that have been given a digital playground. In effect, that means, the figures have also had digital playsets via the portal and the games. But for any favorite action figure of any size, what has always traditionally been the coolest possible accessory? That would be the vehicle. Even Transformers in their favorite classic states, are made a 100 times cooler when they can be carried by another vehicle. (And now with the two announced combiantion Skylanders/amiibos, that vehicle joy will bear out with Bowser and Donkey Kong.)
There are 20 'SuperChargers' vehicles, which are matched with 20 new figures, but any Skylanders can use the vehicles. (Using the new figures with the new vehicles makes for a supercharged bonus to both.) There is enough room on the portal for both vehicle and figure. The vehicles come in land, sky, and water flavors, but as an important bonus, have been designed to work as playable toys on their own. Cars have turning wheels, submarines have turning props, and so on.
Vehicles are a big part of the game, but they don't exactly take over. The normal third person play, puzzles, exploration, combat and so forth is intact, and the included land vehicle of the starter pack, Hot Streak, will allow players to finish the story mode without any additional purchases. Certain areas have big icons representing the vehicle currently on the portal, and these vehicle spots are where the supercharging happens.
From what I've seen, the vehicles allow for dramatically different 'Skylanders' gameplay. In one sequence, a submarine could float at the top of a lake sized a basin, or it could dive, entering a 2.5D area unlike anything past in the series. Likewise, an air vehicle lets players have complete flying control in 3 dimensions.
Even better, getting into a vehicle and really doing something can cause a ripple effect in the level. In the submarine example, an entire basin was drained by the submarining player, and that changed up an entire area from flooded to platformer.
Getting into a hot rod like Hot Streak means not only a change in mobility, but also vehicle combat, and the forces of Kaos are more than happy to oblige. While it seems like a natural for the game to have competitive vehicle mechanics (like racing) one thing it does have is co-op vehicle use. The you drive, I'll shoot mechanics make a lot of sense, and make the driving and fighting more effective.
Interestingly enough, owners of older 'Skylanders' titles can reuse their old portals by buying the 'Skylanders Superchargers' digital portal pack.
So far, Activision has just teased the way that vehicles add to the game's proven formula. Vehicles can of course be customized and upgraded, but we haven't yet seen how they'll fit into the game's robust hub world side content (though they will, to the tune of about 50%).
Vicarious Visions has proved to always be pushing the franchise ahead, looking to please both the younger players and their co-op parents. With 'SuperChargers,' they appear to have leap-frogged 'Trap Team.' (And btw, Trapped villains from 'Trap Team' can be used in "SuperChargers' and with the new portal, but no 'SuperChargers' villains can be trapped.) they have stepped up how they use the game's engine, with fully in-engine cutscenes making the most of the player customization, and levels like this giant dragon wrapped mountain. (The dragon is playable area... for awhile).
Once 'SuperChargers' releases, players will finally get that most basic, yet most essential extension of the toys to life concept, vehicle power, and that is definitely something to look forward to.
You can find the latest info on 'Skylanders Superchargers' linked from our Video Game Release Schedule.
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