Also Not Sure Whether or Not to Get Skylanders SuperChargers

We’re big Skylanders fans. We’ve played them all from day one. We even have week one footage of the original Skylanders launch on Youtube. The fanboy force is strong over here. We normally receive a review copy of Skylanders from Activision, but so far we haven’t received any SuperChargers. It got mailed late, right? It’s just lost in the mail and will be here any minute, right? Right? ::lower lip quivers sadly::

I posted last night about my dilemma over LEGO Dimensions. It’s expensive, it might just be another LEGO game, yada yada, but it’s LEGO and it has Gandalf and Doctor Who and who am I kidding I want it.  The same dilemma exists over Skylanders SuperChargers.

Skylanders Superchargers Action Pack Skylanders Starter Pack = $75.00

Vehicles: $15 each (I’d want a couple)

Skylanders: $13 each  (I’d want a couple)

Sea Racing Action Pack: $35 (New tracks like a Mario Kart circuit, a vehicle, and a Skylander)

There are also “Dual Packs” with a character and a vehicle coming in around MSRP $25 but those have a release date in October. As always, Skylanders are releasing in waves. Wave 1 will have like 4-6 characters and vehicles, wave 2 adds more, etc.

Predicament: Skylanders Wii U vs. PS4 (or Xbox One)

SuperChargers Wii U

SuperChargers on Wii U allows you to play Bowser and Donkey Kong Skylanders which are ALSO Amiibo! Are you freaking kidding me. Genius and insidious in all the right ways. The Wii U version of the Skylanders SuperChargers Starter Pack comes with Donkey Kong, and the 3DS version comes with Bowers. The Hybrid Amiibo/Skylanders do not work on PS4 or Xbox One, so that’s a huge swing to the Wii U side of the fence.

There’s this question as to whether or not the Wii U version looks inferior, but from all of the videos I’ve watched I can’t tell a difference. Anyone out there have a comparison video or own a Wii U copy and see a huge difference?

SuperChargers Has Online Co-op and Racing

Here’s where this gets even harder for me. Skylanders SuperChargers introduces a new mode for racing vehicles that is very similar to Mario Kart; Oh, it’s also online competitive play. Awesome. They also have online (and couch) adventure mode co-op (play the story with friends) which is … yeah, that’s awesome too. Graev and I could play together which is always a HUGE plus for us.

To Skylanders or Not to Skylanders

When all is said and done, I’m probably sitting at (including tax) $180 of Skylanders Superchargers stuff that I want. Whew… But it has multiplayer co-op for the story and competitive racing.  The struggle is real on this one. Have any of our readers out there already bought Skylanders Superchargers? I know some of you have “kids” who like to play. Wink. wink.

Torn On Whether or Not to Get LEGO Dimensions

I’m torn. I really, really want everything. If I had all the money in the world then this wouldn’t even be a debate. I’d buy LEGO Dimensions, Skylanders Superchargers, and the rest of Disney Infinity 3.0 and be done with it all. But I don’t, and I can’t, etc. I want to be able to review it all for you guys, but unless the good people at Activision, Traveller’s Tales, and Disney decide to bestow review copies upon me then I’m stuck having to decide to space it out or forgo something.

LEGO Dimensions

Here’s where I’m at. I love Disney Infinity 3.0. Amazing game. Check out my review of the overall game as well as the TotR play set. That wasn’t cheap. I love Disney and their games. I’ve also been a long-time fan of the LEGO game series and what Jon Burton and team have come up with. We’ve played and reviewed them all here on our blog. But LEGO Dimensions isn’t cheap. It’s $100 for the starter set (LEGO markup is real) and about the same price as the other toys-to-life games out there when it comes to play sets and figures, etc.

LEGO Doctor Who

Can I say no to LEGO Doctor Who?!

When I think about it, LEGO Dimensions could technically just be another LEGO game. I’ve played LEGO LotR, LEGO Batman, LEGO et al. Do I need a LEGO game that would run me, bare minimum, $170’ish for what I want? Part of me says yes. Then I think to myself… okay, it’s LEGO. Does it have the building sandbox style of Disney Infinity 3.0 but with LEGOs? Sadly, it doesn’t, which is a huge missed opportunity.

Yet at the same time, Dimensions has a contiguous story across all of their universes which bridges the whole ‘it doesn’t make sense having characters in here that don’t belong’ because inter-dimensional travel is explaining it all. Disney Infinity sorta just throws it all in together and focuses on the characters rather than the ‘universe’ of their ‘infinite possibilities’.

Graev says I should wait for reviews. I want to be one of those reviews, dangit! I want to bring you guys information as soon as I can to help you make an informed decisions on whether or not you should go out there and buy these games. What do you think? Do I wait for reviews and see if LEGO Dimensions is worth it, or do I bite the bullet and pre-order the base game for $100? Your feedback is very, very appreciated. For now, LEGO Dimensions remains on my wishlist.

P.S. I feel like I could write a followup on Skylanders SuperChargers and hit the same chords… maybe I will.

More Thoughts On Super Mario Maker

I wrote my Super Mario Maker review last week, and after seeing the public’s thoughts on the game, as well as a comment I received, I think it’s necessary to continue the dialogue.


Click to enlarge

Super Mario Maker truly is the first of its kind. Does it have its problems? Actually, very few of what I would consider actual problems. The ‘issues’ are all in what Super Mario Maker does not include. I found the image to the right (I do not know who gets credit for it) that nicely illustrates what’s missing.

Yeah, having those things would be nice. I spoke about that in my review. I want different biomes. I want slopes. The missing suits and even items which introduce major mechanics would be great too. Those things can be added in a patch/dlc.

There are bigger issues here with which I do agree.

No Map Maker in Super Mario Maker

No World or Map Maker

Here’s where most people get hung up: You can’t actually make a full Mario game in Super Mario Maker. You can’t make a world. You can’t make a map. Super Mario Maker is about making levels or courses. It’s about sharing those courses with people online and with friends. You download courses and rate them, discuss them, etc. People have taken to themes whether they be levels that are zany and play themselves, or creating the most ridiculously impossible course ever.

Yeah, wouldn’t it be awesome if we could make our own map and set up a series of levels? I’d love to theme a world and connect everything together. Lives right now don’t matter unless you play 100 Mario Mode. Fighting a boss is silly because it’s not really a boss of anything. There’s not progression. But again, that’s not Super Mario Maker’s fault.

However, the framework is already there for this to be a feature. When saving a level you can choose to save it to a world. Right now those worlds serve no purpose. Could this be a feature coming soon?

Lack of Purpose

This was alluded to a moment ago when I talked about lives not mattering and bosses serving no purpose. There is a distinct lack of “I should be checking these ?-blocks!” If you die it doesn’t matter. Coins don’t matter. Storing items doesn’t matter. If you die you just start over.

This is Not the Game You’re Looking For…

While I agree completely with all of the above, technically that’s not the fault of the game or its developers. They made a fantastic game within a tool, and a rather innovative new one at that. Super Mario Maker is a course maker using the items available. The point is sharing what you make with others in bite-sized pieces. With what we have been given, this is revolutionary.

I personally want the tools to make a Mario 64 or even a Super Mario 3D World level. How amazing would that be?!

It’s hard to ding a game for being completely new but not going the extra mile that we can only see now that we have this new thing in our hands. That’s why I think Super Mario Maker deserves the near-perfect score I gave it.  Now, if Nintendo launches Super Mario Maker 2 and adds nothing upon this model… then we have a lot to complain about.

I think this is only the beginning for this model. I predict Nintendo will run with this idea and create a Mario Kart variation, as well as a version to introduce Mario 64 / the 3D model. This has generated an enormous amount of buzz for them around something that has been out for 30 years… it’s incredible.

Disney Infinity 3.0: Twilight of the Republic Review

I finished my play-through of Disney Infinity 3.0’s Twilight of the Republic play set last night! As I detailed in my review of Disney Infinity 3.0 as a whole, these play sets are just one “game” within a game, comprising story-driven quests, objectives, collectibles, and challenges.Twilight of the Republic Review


Story and Setting

Twilight of the Republic GeonosisTwilight of the Republic takes place chronologically between the second and third movies smack dab in the middle of the Clone Wars era. The basic story (no spoilers) has you traveling through various planets to identify a new threat to the Republic. This threat will introduce you to familiar locations such as Geonosis and Tatooine, as well as many legendary figures from the entire Star Wars series. While the story is good, there are definitely some liberties taken. As long as you’re not a purist you should be fine. My only true critique is that I wish it was longer.

There are a total of 4 planets you traverse as you advance the story, but only 3 of them count in my opinion. The final planet is pretty much the final boss fight only. Each planet offers about an hour or two of gameplay not including collectibles and challenges. Gameplay on these planets consists mostly of side quests with a few main story quests pushing you through. The side quests are silly and aimed at the younger audience, but the core story will keep you engaged and wanting to progress to see more. I rather enjoyed when the game departed from just combat and presented me with obstacles to try and navigate.

Disney Infinity YodaI played on the second to last difficulty and found the game actually too difficult in many spots. Boss battles had nice mechanics as well as a learning curve. The final boss was actually very challenging and had I not had Anakin, Ahsoka, Yoda, Ezra, and Sabine I would have been in deep trouble. I ended up cycling through them and even had to wait for one to recharge during a phase of the encounter.

TotR Characters

The play set comes with Anakin Skywalker and Ahsoka Tano. Combined with Yoda and Obi-wan (with Darth Maul release later this year) these are the only current characters you’ll be able to play in TotR until you unlock more character tokens — you’ll still need to purchase those characters to use them as well. For the purpose of scoring this review, I am only going to review what is included in the play set. [Read more…]

Introducing ‘Keen Plays’

I mentioned a while back that I would start to introduce more video content here on the blog to enhance, augment, or extend our gaming coverage. I’m pleased to say that I finally have things ironed out enough that I can start making these videos somewhat regularly. My first foray into video coverage will be in the form of “Keen Plays.”

As you might have guessed, these are my own personal take on the “Let’s Play” video style. Keen Plays will essentially be video coverage of me playing the games. I might use them to introduce or do an overview of a game to go along with one of my reviews, or simply record what I’m playing that day with a microphone going in the background. I want these to be less ‘produced’ and more ‘Hey guys, I’m playing a game so come watch.”

Video production is still very new to me. I have some tools like Sony Vegas HD and Adobe Premiere Pro. I have a Live Gamer HD Portable that I use to record consoles, and I’m using OBS Broadcaster or simply Windows 10’s new Game DVR to record PC stuff. So far recording is really easy, and I can do it all in 1080p 60FPS. Where I struggle is post production, but I’ll get there eventually. Since I’m not doing this to garner 100,000’s of views and make a living, I feel like as long as my videos enhance the blog coverage then I have met my goal.

The two Keen Plays series up so far are Disney Infinity 3.0 and Super Mario Maker. I’ll go ahead and link the playlists below.

Super Mario Maker

Disney Infinity 3.0

If you looking to stay current on all of my Keen Plays videos you can visit the Keen Plays page, or visit the Keen and Graev Youtube Page where you’ll find all of our videos. Oh, and let me clarify that Keen Plays are just one of several types of videos we’ll be doing. I’m going to try my hand at formal video reviews for games (to go along with my written reviews and essentially be the same content but with video), as well as other video coverage. We’ll see how it goes, but for now Keen Plays are the for sure thing.

I hope you enjoy!