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Preview: Skylanders Superchargers

Skylanders Supercharges is the newest entry in the popular toys-to-life franchise of Activision. This entry brings vehicles to the popular franchise and this changes the gameplay from action puzzler to racer. During Gamescom, we got our hands on those races and were surprised this isn’t released as a separate game.

It’s not Mario Kart

For those who ever played a Mario Kart game, the comparison with Skylanders Superchargers will quickly be made. Just like in Mario Kart, you drive over colorful tracks and use special powers to slow down your opponents. At first sight you might think that this Skylanders mode is just a copy of Mario Kart but that’s not true. Superchargers adds some new gameplay mechanics that aren’t found in Mario Kart games. Unlike the Mario Kart games, the races in Skylanders are more combat orientated.

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Each vehicle has its own attacks

During our hands-on on PlayStation 4, we soon learned that every vehicle has two types of attacks to dodge or hurt the enemy. Depending on the classes, these attacks will change. Land vehicles have a ranged weapon to slow down the enemies but can also drift to increase speed. Aircrafts can use barrel rolls to dodge enemies and can change their altitude in order to create shortcuts. Aircraft can also use a special attack to camouflage against dangerous projectiles. Water vehicles have rapid fire or homing missiles and can dive under water to bump into enemies and slow them down. Each class had its own way of controlling and attacking and that’s what makes this game so much fun. We’ve played with the three classes and the outcome was always different thanks to the attacks.

Different races

The biggest plus about the racing mode is the variety in the environments. Since you’re racing on land, in the sky and water, every race feels different and you’ll need to get used of your vehicle. An aircraft isn’t controlled as a land vehicle, so you’ll need to learn the different controls and strengths and weaknesses of your vehicles. This is without a doubt what makes this game stand out. The races are unpredictable thanks to the different vehicles and attacks but the power-ups also affect the way the race is played.

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Once you gain a power-up, it will be activated immediately. Unlike Mario Kart games, you can’t hold your power-up to use it when you want. Once you drive trough the box, the power will be activated. These powers include boosts but also weapons to slow down the opponents. Since these are activated instantly, the game can change drastically every minute. You never know what to expect and you’re never sure of your first place before you cross the finish line. It’s a fun feeling and it turns the game into a very competitive game.

The use of the figurines

This brings us to the way your Skylander figurines are used in the races. Before the start of the race, you need to place a Superchargers character and vehicle on the new portal. Once they are active, they can’t be changed. It makes sense that you can’t change figurines during races since that would slow down the process but it’s strange for those who are familiar with the franchise. Swapping figurines was key in the normal game so you’ll definitely need to adapt to the non-swapping races.

Although you can’t swap, you can select a character and vehicle that are part of one set. If you select those, you go Supercharged, meaning you’ll have some advantages such as better health or shields. It’s important to make the right decisions at the start since you’ll be racing the entire race with the figurines you’ve selected.

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Gorgeous tracks 

This brings us to the final part of the hands-on preview, the tracks. It must be said that Activision has put a lot of effort in creating fun and colorful tracks. They aren’t on the same level as Mario Kart but most levels were truly fun to play. The levels are colorful, playful and filled with hidden routes and shortcuts. It’s fun to find all the secrets and use them to your advantage. Our personal favorite of the hand-on was the map where we raced on the back of a dragon. This map was filled with shortcuts and power-ups and was without a doubt the best map of the session.

Early conclusion:

The races in Skylanders Superchargers feel like a complete new game and we are surprised it isn’t releasing as a spin-off. The races add a lot of extra gameplay to the regular game and are worked out with a lot of details. It’s easy to compare this mode with Mario Kart but Skylanders is definitely trying to innovate with the combat and instant power-ups. We were surprised that this mode worked this good and we can’t wait to play it online against other Skylanders!

Got interested in games since I could read. Started with Nintendo but evolved into an all-round gamer. I love all kind of games; triple A games to Indie. If the vibe is right, I'll enjoy playing it.