Over the years, the Skylanders brand has become a surprise out of left field for Activision, producing well over $500 million in profit between game and accessory sales. That said, the company has done well to avoid over-saturation with the series, throwing in new ideas like swappable character parts in Skylanders Swap Force, and introducing talking portals in the enjoyable Trap Team.
So what's next? How about vehicles? That's exactly what Skylanders Superchargers will introduce when it debuts this fall, allowing players to combine fighting action with racing sequences, creating a great new world to explore in the process – along with plenty of goodies to collect. Oh, and Wii U owners are in for an even bigger treat, as two familiar characters will be coming along for the ride.
Kaos, the series' nefarious villain, is back, stopping at nothing to overtake the world with his latest diabolical creation, the Doomstation of Ultimate Doomstruction. (Sounds promising.) Fortunately, the Skylanders have made their return as well, working alongside the citizens (as well as the egotistical Flynn, once again voiced by Patrick Warburton) to take down Kaos' forces and eventually scuttle his plan before it reaches fruition.
As with previous Skylanders games, there are platforming sections, where characters can be jettisoned into a world simply by placing their figure on an accessible portal. (Note: older portals will work perfectly with Superchargers, along with the new one packaged with the Starter Pak.) You'll be able to use their abilities – regular attacks along with super-charged techniques – to defeat enemies, as well as break items in the environment to collect additional treasures, including special hats and details for future Skylanders. The game will also support co-op, so you can play two characters at once – a nice feature for both families and friends that want to play together.
Where Skylanders takes a twist is with the addition of vehicles. You can place a special car alongside a Skylander on the portal and have them hop in to take a ride through special levels, whether it's in the air in a jet or on the ground in a land rover. Vehicles add a new degree to gameplay, as their secondary weapons make it easier to bring down enemies, while also adding some versatility that enables Skylanders to reach new areas of the game that couldn't be accessed on foot. Sure, you may need to buy an extra car or two, but it's worth it to completionists.
Furthermore, matching up a Skylander and a vehicle of similar elements provides a Supercharged ability, making them faster and more powerful than most combinations within the game. This will prove useful against tougher foes that you'll come across, like powerful blimps that require a hefty amount of firepower to bring down. However, players can mix up characters and vehicles however they wish.
This time around, however, owners of Nintendo systems have an advantage with the game, as Nintendo and Activision have struck a deal that brings two popular favorites to the Skylanders series for the first time. These toys have dual abilities, working with both Superchargers and as amiibos for other respective Nintendo titles.
The first is Donkey Kong, who makes his debut in a Barrel Blast vehicle. With this, he can pound his way through enemy forces with the help of this motorcycle, with Diddy Kong at his side. When he's not coasting around in it, he's still a force to be reckoned with on the ground, as he can hurl barrels and ground pound nearby enemies. He utilizes the life element.
Bowser, Mario's sworn enemy, also appears in the game with his own special Bowser Jet, which can fire missiles at airborne enemies and gets around with ease. However, on the ground, Bowser is even more devastating, as he can change into Super Bowser and breathe fire, as well as knock enemies away with his flaming hammer.
In addition, he can also summon Koopas, which serve a dual purpose. They can run into enemies and protect their beloved leader, or Bowser can jump on their shells and create projectiles that can clear away any building enemy forces. He's probably the best playing character in the game, mainly because he's so overpowered.
These two characters are exclusive to the Wii U, Wii and 3DS versions of the game. However, even if you're playing the other versions, you'll find Skylanders Supercharged to be a great take on a long-running formula, providing new vehicle sections to play around in, along with hidden secrets to find. Throw in great co-op play and a great mix of old and new Skylanders characters alike, and you have a game that'll keep you and your family (or friends) busy for some time.
We'll see how these Skylanders stack up when they arrive this September. In the meantime, get caught up in their world with Trap Team Beginner's Tips or take a nostalgic look back at Skylanders Giants.