A team-up of unforseen and epic proportions will launch later this month. Activision and Nintendo are colluding on NFC figures with Skylanders SuperChargers , with the Wii U starter pack including Donkey Kong and his car, and the 3DS and Wii starter packs including Bowser and his plane. I caught up with Vicarious Visions’ Rob Gallerani, Lead Character and Vehicle Designer, to learn more about the exclusive characters.
While Bowser and Donkey Kong were the characters that made it in to Skylanders SuperChargers , other residents of the Mushroom Kingdom were considered. At one point, Gallerani said the team wondered what a warrior princess version of Princess Peach would be like in the game. However, such a thing never came to pass. After discussions with Nintendo representatives from all areas of the company, it was the king of the koopas and the big ape that were picked to appear in the game. Gallerani also talked about how initially Vicarious Visions was being conservative with characters, but Nintendo encouraged the developer to be creative.
Bowser is a good example of the effect input from Nintendo had on the character. Vicarious Visions liked the idea of Molten Bowser from Super Smash Bros , but Nintendo said that version of the character was unique to Smash , and Skylanders SuperChargers would have to have its own thing. In another case, the team learned from Nintendo the nuances of green and red Koopa shells, and how to have their properties in existing Mario games like Mario Kart influence their performance in Skylanders .
One of Gallerani’s most interesting anecdotes had to do with those very koopas. Bowser summons them for one attack, at which point he hits them with a hammer and their shells go spinning. Vicarious Visions had to delay the time it would take before they would go into their shells, so people could get a better look at the koopas. Also, initially there was a joke animation where koopas that weren’t in their shells when Bowser swung his hammer would dodge in a joking fashion. Nintendo representatives came back and said that couldn’t happen, because it seemed like the koopas were getting the better of Bowser, and they were supposed to be terrified of their boss. The change is reflected in the final game.
When it came to Donkey Kong, Vicarious Visions had two things to deal with. When it came to the Dark version of the character, they were concerned about additional color schemes, given how the only thing that changes shade in some games is Donkey Kong’s tie. However, Nintendo gave the company the freedom to go further, resulting in a figure and character with darker colored fur and black jacket, as opposed to the standard brown fur and yellow jacket of the more traditional character.
The appearance of Diddy Kong posed a challenge for Vicarious Visions as well. Gallerani referenced all of Donkey Kong’s friends in his games, and how the team wanted to capture that with Diddy and perhaps even a Rambi rhino. However, Diddy’s cameo appearances were greatly reduced, primarily occuring when Donkey Kong’s Barrel Blaster car appears, so as to keep the focus on the bigger ape.
As this comes to a close, let’s bring in some reassuring news about the figures themselves. While Donkey Kong and his Barrel Blaster and Bowser and his Clown Cruiser come with the Wii U, 3DS, and Wii starter packs, people may not have to worry as much about not finding these amiibo/Skylander hybrids in stores. Activision will be handling the creation and distribution of the figures, so hopefully they’ll prove less rare than characters like the Wii Fit Trainer and Marth.
Skylanders SuperChargers will be released on September 20. Only the Nintendo versions will be compatible with the Bowser and Donkey Kong amiibo/Skylanders, as other systems won’t even recognize the figures. These two will also be forward compatible with future Skylanders games, according to Guha Bala, President of Vicarious Visions.