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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Skylanders SuperChargers is a toys-to-life game in which real-world toys -- character figurines and vehicles -- are transported into and become playable within a digital realm. Families interested in collecting all the toys associated with this game would need to spend hundreds of dollars, though only a couple of extra vehicle toys -- a watercraft and an airship -- are necessary to access a big chunk of the locked content. Action is largely the same as in previous Skylanders games, with fantasy creatures engaging in cartoonish battles using guns, melee weapons, their claws, and, for the first time, vehicle-mounted weapons such as missiles. Skylanders never die (they just need to rest), and defeated enemies disappear in a burst of light. Parents should note that this is the first Skylanders game to support online play with voice chat. But kids can only connect with players on their friends list (which means no strangers, unless they were originally met and befriended in another online game). Parents can opt to switch off online functionality altogether.
- Parents say
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What's it about?
The fifth game in Activision's popular toys-to-life series, SKYLANDERS SUPERCHARGERS adds to its growing collection of Skylanders toy characters -- all of which are compatible with the new game -- a set of 20 vehicles, each with its own matching Skylander to collect. The starter pack (two characters, one vehicle, and a new portal) has everything players need to work through the entire story, where long-time series villain Kaos has kidnapped many of Skylands' most prominent personalities before basically taking over the world. Toys sold separately -- 18 characters, 19 vehicles -- will grant access to additional challenges and certain areas within the campaign, as well as special "supercharger" upgrades if you pair the right vehicle with the right Skylander. There also are new opportunities to drive, fly, and boat around while targeting enemies and hunting down collectibles that can be used to upgrade and modify your rides. Vehicles also can be used to enter a variety of Mario Kart-style races set on a variety of land, sea, and air tracks. Finally, online play -- a first for the series -- lets kids play Skystones Overdrive (a card game), compete in races, and play co-op story missions with friends.
Is it any good?
Activision deserves credit for making each game in this series noticeably and meaningfully different from the last. The addition of vehicles in Skylanders SuperChargers doesn't only introduce a new set of fun toys (many of which are articulated -- another first for the series), it also provides new things for players to do. A lot of time will be spent bashing chompies, earning cash, and leveling up characters on foot, just as in other Skylanders games. And that's still a ton of fun. But an equal amount of time -- or perhaps more time, depending on how you play -- is spent in vehicles. The controls may be a little tricky to start (you'll switch between a standard racing-game scheme while on tracks and something closer to how the Skylanders themselves are controlled while in open arenas), but it doesn't take long to figure things out. And co-op play with vehicles is a blast, with one player driving and the other controlling weapons and powers. Plus, kids can switch positions whenever they like, keeping things nice and equitable.
The vehicles are such a strong new presence that they almost overshadow SuperChargers' more iterative upgrades, and there's plenty here. A new lock-picking puzzle game called Live Wire Locks that has players maneuvering little gremlins through pinball-like mazes is both funny and challenging, and building your deck in the Skystones card game is more fun than ever thanks to the new vehicle cards and the ability to play online against friends. On that subject, online play -- not only Skytones but racing and playing co-op campaign levels -- will be very handy for friends who want to play together even when they're apart. With Skylanders SuperChargers you'll likely come for the cool new toys and end up staying to enjoy all the other improvements in what turns out to be one of the best games the blockbuster toys-to-life series has yet produced.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about managing screen time. If you were given one hour to play through this game's lengthy missions, how would you choose to spend your time?
Families also can discuss making wise purchasing decisions. Assuming you can't collect every toy available for a game such as Skylanders SuperChargers, how do you choose which ones to buy? By evaluating what they unlock within the game and how they alter the experience? Or do you simply choose the ones that look most interesting?
- Platforms: Nintendo Wii U, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
- Subjects: Hobbies: collecting
- Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: applying information, solving puzzles, strategy
Collaboration: cooperation, meeting challenges together, teamwork
- Price: $74.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Not available online
- Developer: Activision
- Release date: September 20, 2015
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures
- ESRB rating: E10+ for Cartoon Violence, Comic Mischief
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.