Skylanders SuperChargers is going to explode into stores September 20th. But the franchise has outgrown the Wii and the Nintendo 3DS. These consoles will receive a stripped-down version of the game that just features the racing mode. Appropriately, or maybe confusingly, it’s called Skylanders SuperChargers Racing. We got to test out Racing on the Nintendo 3DS at PAX Prime.
The first lesson I learned from this isn’t the fault of Skylanders at all—it’s that I don’t really like racing games on the 3DS. It didn’t feel terribly suited for all the finger-clenching I was doing.
Skylanders SuperChargers Racing itself was… fine. That might sound lackluster coming from a professed Skylanders fan like me, but honestly, aside from the really snazzy figures, Racing for the 3DS struggles to stand out. One of the main reasons I was interested in it was because of what it tells us about the main game.
For one, it seems like the mystery items will ultimately be less effective than the unique weapons for each vehicle. In the 3DS version, each vehicle had one attack, but in the main game each will have a heavy and a light attack. It was way more fun to try to torch my opponents with the flamethrower on the Hot Streak than it was to get an item from the randomized mystery boxes littering the course. This is a huge difference from Mario Kart, where those random power-ups make or break a race.
This could ultimately be what sets SuperChargers apart. For Mario Kart players, it’ll take a little getting used to. I know I initially felt disappointed when I realized the random items weren’t a grab bag of slapstick shenanigans, like the ones in Mario Kart. But perhaps that’s for the best. If you come at the king you’d best not miss, and Mario Kart is the undisputed king of kids’ racing games. By placing a focus on the weapons, Skylanders may narrowly avoid an unfair comparison.
The local multiplayer worked great. Courtney and I faced off against each other with no lag, even in the crowded convention center. And I love the character designs. The figures, which were all prototypes, were really beautiful. My favorite was a submersible vehicle in sea-foam green with gold trim. It looked like a fish and had a tail-fin that actually moved. A submarine I played with had a wheel on top that you could turn, which would then rotate the propellor.
And for the amiibo/Skylander hybrids, Donkey Kong and Bowser, I was really pleased with the chip-switching mechanism. The base is sturdy even though it’s made to be rotated, and it’s clearly marked whether your figure is being used as an amiibo or a Skylander. The design work that went into these figures is, as usual, perfect.
I’m looking forward to getting to play with the game some more. Racing locally against friends is hard to screw up, and Skylanders SuperChargers Racing definitely isn’t a bad game. It just doesn’t shine as brightly as the competition.
I’m gonna come out and say it: Skylanders SuperChargers Racing felt a lot like Mario Kart. It’s not 100% the same (which accounts for how Simone was able to beat me), but the drifting, the item boxes, the number of laps…These all felt very Mario Kart-ish, with a big dash of Diddy Kong Racing thrown in.
One big difference I noticed between the two was that Skylanders SuperChargers Racing felt less chance-based than Mario Kart. In the latter game, a single item picked up at the end of the third lap might change the outcome of the whole match. In SuperChargers, most of my items felt kind of…useless. The boost was nice, but the shield was pretty pointless because there was usually nobody around attacking me.
But I still had fun. In the Sea race I played, there were some obstacles that I had to dive underneath. That was definitely different from Mario Kart. And I didn’t get to play a match in Sky, but that looked fun. I look forward to trying this game out on a big-screen console.