The gaming industry will most likely never see Mario Kart released for the PS4 and Xbox One, but Activision is delivering the next best thing, Skylanders Superchargers online racing.
Fans of the Skylanders series will surely enjoy the recently revealed competitive racing in Superchargers, and I have a feeling fans of the Mario Kart series will too. The online environment embraces the game’s new feature this year: air, sea and land vehicular gameplay. The trio of racing styles provides a slew of newfound gameplay opportunities, in addition to some interesting course design.
During some recent PS4 hands-on time I had with Skylanders Superchargers, I sampled a few rounds of the online racing, playing each of the three styles. Between the three of them, it’s hard to say which is a favorite because of each bringing something different. Every player has an offensive range attack they can use to take out a racer in front of them, and if you’re on the receiving end, how you try to avoid and dodge the incoming attacks is on you.
Sea gameplay changes up the controls and strategy a bit because players have the ability to dive under water in order to dodge an incoming attack. While this is an effective defense tactic, it’s also a risky one in the sense that diving does slow you down and it means you miss out on whatever speed burst or item blocks that were above you.
Course design for a sea map has some interesting differentiators when you compare them with land and air. Sea tends to have more subtlety and part of that is due to the ability for players to drop below the surface. Sea doesn’t always mean a liquid track as one of the maps I played had ice for players to manage their way through.
Land gameplay is by far the more traditional form of racing and it’s one gamers will be most familiar with. While the gameplay on all three tracks is a blast to experience, land had an especially addictive element to it. That may have been due to being able to relate to it more easily than the other two styles, but still, something very intriguing is there.
As is the case in different forms, speed burst objects are laid out along each track. For land gameplay, those objects are the orange flashing objects you would expect to find on the ground, while the aerial versions of these are these golden hoops for you to fly through.
Switching gears to the air racing, the greatest course design can be found in these tracks. Developers really had the chance to be more creative with their courses, such as Cloud Factory which features some incredibly steep drops and climbs along the way. The clouds are absolutely gorgeous as are all of the environments.
Controls will vary a bit depending on the mode you are playing. For example, the “X” button will have you power slide when you are involved in land racing. As you hold down the button, it charges up a speed burst for you because when you let it go you are shot straight ahead with great velocity. The same control in air gameplay acts as a barrel roll for players who are trying to dodge an incoming attack or avoid certain obstacles. Lastly, “X” used in sea racing, is the diving function that we’ve already discussed a bit.
As you speed through each race, going through the blocks marked with an “!”, tip of the cap to Mario Kart’s “?” blocks, will award players with some type of power up. An example of the power ups you find are the Ram, which makes you temporarily invincible and deals out damage to players you come into contact with them, and another is a Shield that keeps you safe from any incoming attacks. What place you are in during the race will be the factor that influences the power ups you receive.
Customization can be done through the collection of coins and gearbits, both of which allow you to unlock and customize character vehicles. Interestingly enough, Donkey Kong and Bowser will also be playable characters in Skylanders Superchargers.
Activision is looking to provide some interesting new gameplay with Skylanders Superchargers and they have done an initially impressive job with that in the game’s online racing. We’ll have plenty more regarding the game in the coming days. Skylanders Superchargers launches on Sept. 20 for the PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Wii, 3DS and Wii U.