By Matt Peckham
June 16, 2015

Crazy, but true: Nintendo’s Amiibo figurines are about to join hands with Activision’s new Skylanders game in a deal no one saw coming, but in hindsight makes perfect sense.

Activision unveiled its latest Skylanders installment, Skylanders: SuperChargers, a few weeks ago, but breathed not a word about Nintendo’s involvement. Instead, we learned that the pioneering toy-to-life series’ fifth outing would see vehicles hit the franchise for the first time, paired with new Skylanders (the series’ quirky fantasy characters) to conjure “supercharged” versions of said characters and vehicles capable of more deftly navigating mammoth new land, sea and sky-based levels.

As of Tuesday, you can add two completely new and technologically singular Nintendo Amiibo figurines, with their own matching vehicles, to the dossier of Skylanders: SuperChargers derring-doers. Pick your jaws up off the floor and meet Hammer Slam Bowser and Turbo Charge Donkey Kong.

Activision
Activision

Yep, we’re talking bona fide Nintendo icons in a not-Nintendo-made game. What’s more, they work in both Skylanders and Nintendo Amiibo-supported games. How? With a twist of the base, you can cycle from Amiibo to Skylanders mode. It’s that simple.

In my demo with Skylanders developer (and Activision subsidiary) Vicarious Visions, the company illustrated how both figures are going to work in Skylanders: SuperChargers, which is to say, pretty much like all the other Skylanders characters, albeit with distinctively Nintendo-ish DNA.

Take Hammer Slam Bowser, who lumbers around meting out destruction with a giant hammer, a pair of flaming fists, and the ability to spit fire. But he can also summon koopas (the Mario-series turtle-thingies) which then operate as either minions or deadly pinballing weapons if you whack them with your hammer or stomp on their backs Super Mario Bros. style.

Pair Bowser with his de facto vehicle, the plane-like Clown Cruiser, which by default sports a koopa clown face (a nod to a Bowser battle in Super Mario World), and you’ll supercharge its abilities, conjuring a wooden version of Bowser’s head on its nose (a nostalgic nod to Super Mario Bros. 3‘s airships).

For Donkey Kong, the character’s dressed in a stunt man jumpsuit, iconic red DK tie and can transform into Super Kong, wielding giant barrels like boxing gloves on each hand. You can throw those barrels, of course, but you can also pound on a bongo to unsettle enemies, turn into a giant steamrolling barrel, or rain down girders and ladders (bright blue and red) modeled after Donkey Kong’s original arcade appearance.

Activision

Marry Donkey Kong with his optimal vehicle, the Barrel Blaster, and you get a souped up motorbike that looks a little like the fat-tired Batcycle from Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight sporting a cannon-saddled sidecar. And who’s in that sidecar? Diddy Kong, of course.

Both characters come in their own starter packs, which include the game, either Donkey Kong or Bowser, their corresponding supercharger vehicle and a Skylanders figurine for $74.99. The only catch: You’ll need a Wii U, Wii, or 3DS to use the special Amiibo with the game.

The new Nintendo figures will be available when Skylanders: SuperChargers launches on September 20 in North America.

Write to Matt Peckham at matt.peckham@time.com.

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