They say the first step to solving a problem is admitting it. Well, we admit it - we have a teeny tiny bit of a Skylanders addiction. With some 87 figures (and counting), we've played and finished every single console instalment so far - including the more platformer-centric handheld 3DS games too. We don't even want to think about the money we've poured into the series so far - but, with a new game, Skylanders Superchargers, on the horizon, we look set to spend even more. Bringing vehicles to the franchise for the first time ever, alongside a whole batch of new figures, and old favourite characters with revamped moves, we can hear our purse crying in anticipation already. Needless to say, when we paid a visit to London for an event a few weeks ago, the Skylanders Superchargers stand was first on our list, marking our first time going hands-on with the new game and figures.
The level in question was the same one we'd seen during our earlier "eyes on" demo - the 'All Roads Lead To Ruin' stage, which saw us searching through the Cloud Kingdom for Lord Stratosfear - a rather rotund leader who, under the influence of series bad guy Kaos, has put the legendary Thunderous Bolt item in danger. In true Skylanders style, it falls to you to smash, bash and puzzle your way to the end of the level and retrieve it, before Kaos can get his grubby little mitts on it.
Given it's set way up in the clouds, it should come as no surprise that the whole level is shrouded in fog, often obscuring enemies, items and secret paths through the stage. In practice, what that means is that you'll need to be even more rigorous in your exploration if you want to find everything in the level, as the fog hides secret passages and items. For the lowdown on the level, why not check out our previous piece, which talks you through everything you need to know about the upcoming Skylanders game - because we have some serious Nintendo-specific titbits to cover!
As you may or may not be aware, in a surprising partnership between Activision, Skylanders and Nintendo, the Wii U, Wii and 3DS versions of Skylanders Superchargers are getting their own exclusive figures of popular Nintendo characters, Donkey Kong and Bowser. Given a Skylanders-style makeover, Mr. Kong and his exclusive vehicle will come packed in with Skylanders Superchargers on the Wii U, while Bowser and his special airship are bundled in with the promised 'different, complimentary experience' on the Wii and 3DS, which sources suggest will be more of a traditional Mario Kart-style racer. Unfortunately, we've been given mixed messages about whether these figures will be available separately or not, with Activision themselves saying no, but retailers saying yes. If the former is true, that means the only way to get your hands on both the Nintendo-centric characters is to buy both Starter Packs - which will make Superchargers a bit of an expensive game for some collectors!
In an unique move, though, there's more to these two new figures than meets the eye. In an interesting twist (do you see what we did there), by turning the bottom of the figure, you can switch it between amiibo and Skylanders mode - in amiibo mode, you'll be able to use it as an amiibo in compatible Nintendo games, while in Skylanders mode, you can use it on Superchargers. Pretty neat.
First on the portal was 'Turbo Charge Donkey Kong', a figure of everyone's favourite ape, in a swish new yellow suit. A 'life' element Skylander, most of Donkey Kong's attacks centre around barrels - after all, that was his weapon of choice all those years ago, when he kidnapped Mario's then-girlfriend, Pauline, and tried to stop Mario from rescuing her. His default attack is a mixture of powerful punches and explosive projectiles fired from the barrel he holds on his one shoulder, but holding down the Y button sees Donkey Kong transform a little, losing his brand new jacket and gaining a pair of barrels on his fists for some hardcore bad guy beating. But Donkey Kong is more than a one-barrel monkey - he can also place bongos on the floor, which send out waves of musical notes that damage nearby enemies, a la Donkey Konga. His signature vehicle meanwhile, the aptly named 'Barrel Blaster', is a drag-racer esque car with barrels for wheels - which gets powered up to have a barrel-firing side-car complete with Donkey Kong's 'wannabe nephew', Diddy Kong when Donkey Kong rides in it.
Bowser meanwhile, or 'Hammer Slam Bowser' to give him his proper title is a slightly more armoured version of the serial kidnapper and recurring bad guy we love to hate - this time armed with a pretty painful looking hammer. As the name suggests, his main attacks involve whacking, smashing and sweeping at enemies with his spiky hammer, but, as always, the King of the Koopas has a few surprises up his (general lack of) sleeves. Not only can he summon a miniature army of Koopas from what we assume is a secret Koopa storage unit hidden in his shell, but holding X sees him transform into a rather angry, fiery form of himself. Known as Magma Bowser, he can rain toasty, toasty fire breath death on his assailants, as well as swiping at them with his fire-covered fists - both of which set your enemies on fire, damaging them even when you're not busy whacking them. His signature vehicle meanwhile is the slightly sinister looking smiley plane, the 'Clown Cruiser', which fires Bullet Bill projectiles at enemy ships - but put Bowser in the driving seat and it takes on a slightly more ego-centric appearance...
Skylanders Superchargers will be hitting the Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Playstation 3 and Playstation 4 on the 25th September, with the probable racing spin-offs landing on the Wii and 3DS on the same day. With all the Nintendo-specific characters, Dark Edition special editions and of course, a myriad of new figures coming at launch, Skylanders looks set to well and truly empty our wallets later this year - we don't know about you, but we'd better start saving!