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E3 2015 Preview: Skylanders: SuperChargers

Skylanders is the original toys-to-life title and while it held the genre all to itself for a time it’s now under attack from the likes of Disney Infinity and now LEGO: Dimensions. What the latter two have in advantage over Skylanders is licensing. Infinity has everything Disney, which as we all know includes Marvel and Star Wars, and LEGO: Dimensions has, well, pretty much everything else.

Once upon a time Skylanders traded on the popularity of Spyro The Dragon, but let’s face it, he’s small time and nobody has cared about him since the days of the original PlayStation. What Skylanders does have is great gameplay. All the titles in the franchise have been excellent (if a little simple) 3D platformers, filled with charming characters and fun mechanics. Both Infinity and Dimensions have vehicles so it really makes sense for Skylanders to introduce them, but on their own terms.

The cynic in me is dying to point out that having the vehicles and Skylanders as separate toys is an enormous cash grab, but then looking at Infinity and Dimensions (both of which will cost a significant chunk of change) and Skylanders: Superchargers starts to seem a little more reasonable. Vehicles themselves come in three forms; land, air and sea and in my hands on time I got to experience both land and air. Traditional Skylanders platforming, action-RPG gameplay is broken up with racing sections. These tracks are filled with traps, enemies and obstacles and also feature divergent paths. At the end of the racing sections are simple vehicular based puzzles which while easy to solve, do require some finesse and skill.

skylanders

The racing feels solid enough and like the standard gameplay in Skylanders is very easy to pick up and play. Skylanders has always felt like it’s been made for a young audience and while Infinity and Dimensions trade on nostalgia and pop-culture Skylanders really only trades on how much fun the titles are. Thankfully Superchargers is no exception. The platforming is as good as ever and the racing adds a new element that whilst isn’t a complete reinvention or wholly original keeps things fresh and interesting.

Like all previous Skylanders titles, each of the over 100 already available figurines will be compatible with Superchargers and for those playing on Nintendo will also be able to use special versions of Bowser and Donkey Kong. These two Skylanders will also double as amiibo in other compatible games.

In my brief hands-on time with Skylanders: Superchargers I had a ball. It definitely succeeds in bringing out my inner child and making me remember what it’s like to have utter and unadulterated fun with a video game; no agendas, no complaints. Just pure fun.

Skylanders: Superchargers will be available for 3DS, PS3, PS4, Wii, Wii U, Xbox 360 and Xbox One on 25 September.



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