Skylanders Superchargers: Racing (3DS, Wii) Review
Skylanders has always had 2 versions on Nintendo Systems, The mainline game that you would find on most consoles, and a completely separate game on the 3DS. This year is no different, but this time the Wii Version is a port of the 3DS version, and not the Wii U. Skylanders Superchargers: Racing is the first hint that this game is not what you would expect from prior Skylanders games, with this year’s gimmick for the toys being vehicles, we finally have the first Skylanders Spin-off game.
As the title suggests, this game is entirely based on Racing, there’s no platforming, no puzzles, and about 2 minutes of story that ties the game together. The Starter Pack for the game includes one of the 2 Nintendo Exclusive Superchargers, the new breed of Skylander Heroes this year, Hammer Slam Bowser (who along with Turbo Charge Donkey Kong in the Wii U Starter Pack, double as Amiibo) and his Signature Vehicle, the Clown Cruiser. Anyone familiar with Skylanders will be familiar with the 10 elements skylanders are assigned to (Bowser being Fire, Clown Cruiser being Air for example) but Superchargers adds another sub element, terrain, Land, Sea & in the case of Bowser’s Clown Cruiser, Sky.
In Adventure Mode, which is the main story mode, well story mode is a bit of an exaggeration. Pandergast the Magnificent is the host of a TV Show called Racelandia Wrap Up, where he has invited the portal masters and skylanders to race to win the Snowglobe of Destiny… and that’s the entire story. Gameplay wise, there’s 5 Cups that contain about 15 sections each, which could be either a Race or a Challenge in the respective 3 Terrain Types.
The basic formula for racing is identical to that in Skylanders Superchargers for the other consoles, You can attack other racers (and be attacked yourself!) which depletes your health, to regain health you will need to collect cakes which are scattered across the racetrack. You can collect Magic Item boxes that will give you various effects such as shields, health regen, infinite ammo etc. These are all based off prior magical item toys from Trap Team and Swap Force, and even the tracks themselves are reminiscent of locals in Skylands such as Chompie Mountain.
Each vehicle has unique stats, along with the Skylanders, While Any skylander can drive a vehicle, only the new Superchargers can Supercharge their own vehicle for extra stat boost, ie Bowser is the only Skylander to Supercharge his Clown Cruiser. If you don’t have the matching set, you can unlock Mods in chests around the map, or once the vehicle reaches Level 8 or 16, they can upgrade. Given this, some vehicles are just straight up better than others. Terrafins Shark Tank for example at Level 4, had the same amount of armour and Health as Spitfire’s Hot Streak at level 10. There’s little reason to swap around vehicles as you will eventually find yourself using the same 3 as they are just better than the rest. They will level up their stats over time to become more powerful, which is very easy to do in this version, usually about 5-6 races gets you to Level 10 almost, but I tested completing the later levels with Level 1 Skylanders & Vehicles, and didn’t feel at a disadvantage for not using the ‘correct’ one, or having it at a higher level even on Hard Mode.
The Wii Version has 3 control methods, Wii Remote on the side with motion controls for steering, Wiimote + Nunchuk, or the Classic controller, which as the control layouts identical to the 3DS, that’s the option I stuck with, all work well for the most part. All 3 Race Types have unique controls that really changes the game up. All vehicles can shoot down other racers using various weapons unique to that vehicle, however pressing the B or R button has unique moves whether it’s a Sea, Land or Sky vehicle.
Sea Vehicles can Press B to Dive underwater to avoid obstacles and projectiles, and Hold R to do a trick off ramps that nets you a speed boost. Land Vehicles can Press B to jump, and Hold R to drift, which has 2 stages of boost. Finally Sky Vehicles can Press B to spin through cobwebs, and Hold R to use Afterburner which allows you to move faster but heavily restricts movement. You may be wondering why i’m explaining which buttons do what action, that’s because this game has no Tutorial. There is a controller layout hidden in the options menu, but there’s no outright tutorial other than hints in the loading screen. Some of these hints are relevant, spinning through cobwebs to avoid slowing down appeared about 4 races AFTER i needed to know. As this is aimed at kids, it’s baffling to say the least and as it’s 2015, so manuals are a thing of the past.
Aside from Normal Races, which nets you stars based off the difficulty you select (Easy, Medium or Hard for 1,2 or 3 stars) there’s also various amounts of challenge stages. These include Getting X amount of score using tricks, drifting x distance, knocking down a certain amount of chompies that appear on the track, or more annoying ones like constantly taking damage throughout the race and needing to collect food to not die. The Target score will change based on the selected difficulty, and these are honestly quite fun for the most part. Ghost Challenges, which requires you to beat a staff ghost time for lap is a great way to learn all the courses, and there’s another challenge where you have to collect more sheep than your opponents by driving into them and depositing them off in checkpoints. There’s a few other challenges in the game, so even though there’s only 15 tracks in the game (with 6 additional ones being unlockable, but i’ll mention that later on), it makes playing the same courses not as tiring as you’re usually always doing something different.
I played every challenge that i could on Hard Mode, while I understand the games aimed at children, there’s quite a lot of adults that enjoy the skylanders game too, and I can’t say i ever had difficulty coming in first and collecting 3 stars, the only times I did was when the game didn’t explain itself properly, or at all. The starter pack has always allowed you to complete the game (not 100% mind you), being a pure racing game, you can use any of the toys available in store, but also can rent a Land & Sea vehicle. These will have lower stats & won’t gain experience, but they will definitely get the job done, however as the Starter Pack includes a Sky Vehicle, if you happen to lose it you won’t be able to borrow one and thus unable to progress and complete the game. If you have a Kaos Trophy, Sea, Sky or Land Trophies, you can use that in place of skylanders and vehicles to play that respective terrain, again these won’t level up.
There’s also 10 elemental gates in the game that require a vehicle (note: vehicle, not skylander) to open up a sub section usually contains a vehicle mod, and a race. These are completely optional however, as are the Magic stands which will give you a Star if you scan in a Magic item. Superchargers however, does not contain any Magic items, so you will need them from prior games to complete this game 100% and you will need quite a lot of them, 24 unique items in fact, by my count there’s been roughly 33 items in total over the past 5 years of Skylanders releases, these include the old Adventure Pack items. Thankfully if you’re like me and don’t have these you can always borrow a friends, as once they scan in, they are not needed again.
Speaking of Scanning in, this is when the major difference between the 3DS & Wii version comes in. First introduced in the 3DS Version of Swap Force, the game allows you to store in any skylander once, and keep them in that save file forever. Yes, this is exploitable as you expect it would, especially as the Skylanders unlike amiibo will work in the boxes, but i digress. This gives the 3DS Version a massive boost in my eyes as playing the Wii Version, I didn’t need to constantly swap in and out the toys on the portal, and could select them in a menu after I scanned them in. This is especially convenient as the game is set up to alternate terrain types between races, the amount of times i saw the message “This vehicle is not supported in this race” was quite excessive, but was something that didn’t become an issue on 3DS.
The Second difference is Co-op. The Wii version allows you to complete the Adventure Mode races in Co-op, including the challenge courses making it easier to complete the races as Score Target Goals are shared, You both gain experience leveling up skylanders super quickly, and can gain stars for coming first if either of you are victorious. The 3DS version however has local multiplayer & online. Local multiplayer requires a second cartridge, so I didn’t get to test that unfortunately. Online I waited in the lobby for about 30 minutes before giving up and asking people on twitter to start it up to join me. The experience online was great, no lag, fast loading times… but this could have been the case as we were the only two humans playing, and both are located in the same state. There doesn’t seem to be a play with friends option, but as stated with the lack of active players, you will probably be playing with your friends anyway. Aside from Adventure mode and Multiplayer mode, both games offer a Cup mode, which plays all 5 races of that terrain type in a row, and highest overall score wins.
The last major difference between the two is the ability to use Traps. While the new Superchargers portal won’t work with Trap Team due to the lack of Speaker, you can still use the Traps in Superchargers Racing to get a boost in stats; Top Speed, Acceleration, Handling, Firepower & Armour. I don’t have enough of the traps to determine if the 1 stat up you get is based off the element, trap design, or just straight up random, but I can confirm using the Kaos Trap will give you a boost in all 5 stats, instead of just the one. Traps weren’t usable in Trap Team on the 3DS last year, and this year with the same portal included, they won’t work either. Graphically both versions look the same, hold up with the same frame rate & have similar load times.
There’s 3 Racing Packs available as separate purchases that act as Adventure Packs from last year, in this you will receive A Supercharger, their vehicle & A Sea/Sky or Land Trophy. At the time of this review, only the Sea Racing pack was available for purchase. Scanning this into the game unlocks an entire new cup that includes: 2 additional race tracks, Mirror & VS Challenges along with 4 unlockable villains to play as. The respective terrain for the cup is the only type of races you will see here, aka Sea Racing Pack gave me about 15 races all based on the Sea terrain. These included the 2 new races, mirror challenges where previous track layouts are mirrored, and all the other challenges too. You will need 30 Stars (which carry over from the main game, to unlock all 4 villains to play as, and at the end you will vs one of them on a 1 on 1 race to the finish. It adds quite a bit of content, with all 3 bringing an extra hour or so each, but considering the main game has 5 Cups, almost a third of the game is locked behind a paywall. Once you scan in the trophy however, you don’t need it again unless you want to play as Villains, and the extra cups will stay unlocked.
Review concludes below.
Skylanders Superchargers: Racing was reviewed using Wii and 3DS versions of the game purchased by the reviewer.