|System: Xbox One, PS4, Wii U, Xbox 360, PS3|
|Dev: Vicarious Visions|
|Release: September 20, 2015|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080i||Cartoon Violence, Comic Mischief|
Skylanders SuperChargers is the most arbitrary game I've ever played. This extends to rewards earned during play. In previous Skylanders adventures, specific hats, soul gems, and legendary treasures would be in exact locations in levels. Now, they're doled out randomly from things like slot machines, races, or a wishing well. You aren't rewarded for doing things right, rather, you're rewarded for simply doing things.
This quality extends to the racing as well. In most kart racers, say Mario Kart 8 or Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed, winning comes down to skill and luck. Fortunate timing or item acquisition can aid, but never completely influence the competition. With Skylanders SuperChargers, it genuinely feels like you could win or lose a race at any moment because of opponents, real or virtual, getting in some lucky shots or the right special items. Especially since some special items fight against you.
The rocket is the one I'm thinking of in particular. In at least five races, I obtained the rocket item. Once it takes effect, the controls are abruptly inverted without warning. I didn't realize this until the third time this effect was inflicted on me. It was obnoxious, rather than beneficial.
It's a shame, because if it weren't for the vehicles being less than super, Skylanders SuperChargers would be a great game. There's tons of content. Especially appreciated are the side-quests tied to the SuperChargers Skylanders. They let you see specific characters' personalities, learn more about them, and get permanent stat boosts. It's like suddenly, it made sense for actors like Josh Duhamel to be voicing heroes.
Probably the best alteration is to Skystones, the collectible card game present since Skylanders: Giants. In Skylanders SuperChargers, it clearly takes notes from games like Hearthstone and SNK vs. Capcom: Card Fighter's Clash. Players can place up to three Skystones in front of them, with each having its own health, attack power, and perhaps even a special skill. The goal is to bring the opponent's health down from 30 to 0, while protecting your own. The inclusion of a vehicle Skystone based on the one on the Portal of Power that takes turns to charge and has a special ability allows for a game that's more entertaining and thoughtful than before.
Skylanders SuperChargers is a situation where everything seems promising, but one major element doesn't live up to its potential. Regular adventuring is fun, but the second a player has to hop into a vehicle, it's a gamble as how good or bad the experience will be. If the vehicular elements were separate from the story and entirely optional, this would be the best entry in the series. But they're not and bring the rest of the game down.
Date: September 21, 2015