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I don't know about you, but my household became consumed with Skylanders in 2012. It was not just a game, it was an obsession AND a collection. To the tune of hundreds of dollars, we grabbed every character that became available (and that wasn't always easy as Activision didn't do a great job in the supply department). So I was both excited by the prospect of Skylanders Giants and fearful of the financial commitment necessary to supply a whole new chapter of adventures. Despite my love of the game, I wasn't sure I wanted to go down this route again. But when I had an opportunity to get an early copy of the Skylanders Giants Starter Kit, I simply couldn't resist. Let me just cut to the chase before providing a more detailed analysis. If you loved Skylanders, this provides more of the same with some cool new features. More of a continuation than a re-imagining, this won't disappoint fans of the original because it sticks closely to the winning formula that made the original game a cultural phenomenon. Having had the game for a little over a day, we have played it relentlessly and beyond all reason! The game in story mode seems too short, I'll be honest.

The initial offering of the game has been released in two versions:
(1) Skylanders Giants Starter Kit: This includes the game, a portal of power (not necessary to re-purchase, your portal from the original Skylanders works here as well), one new Giant figure Tree Rex (a life element), one regular size new figure Jet Vac (an air element), and one reposed figure Cynder (a death element). There is also the new character poster, the trading cards for the new figures, and some stickers.
(2) Skylanders Giants Portal Owner Pack: This includes the game and Tree Rex only and is designed for those that do not wish to purchase a second portal.

Gameplay: Skylanders Giants operates on the same story mode principles as the first game. You are still battling Kaos who is always good for some great villainous comedy! Vocal talent like Patrick Warburton returns and there are new voices like George Takei and Bobcat Goldthwait. The game, honestly, feels a little skimpy at 16 chapters as opposed to the original's 22 (before expansion packs). Running straight through, you could probably finish this game very quickly. There are, however, more collectibles (soul gems, hats, treasures) and more items to buy. Some of the challenges are a bit more difficult as are the Big Boss battles. But the addition of Giants to these confrontations is a nice boost of power.

Extras: There still exists a Battle mode for those that like to pit their characters against one another in different arenas of chance and skill. And the Heroic Challenges (one of my favorite aspects of the original Skylanders) has some great new twists and challenges.

Giants: The Giants certainly look cool. They are bigger (duh!) and Tree Rex is pretty awesome. They light up on the portal unlike previous characters and are able to smash through things, stomp around creating more havoc and opening up surprising new pathways, and performing other strength maneuvers that help you proceed. In many cases, they can do damage that you previously needed a bomb to accomplish. There will be a total of eight new Giants figures: Swarm, Crusher, Bouncer, Tree Rex (already available) AND Eye Brawl, Ninjini, Thumpback, and Hot Head (yet to be released).

Old Figurines: The new game recognizes all of the progress that you have already earned on your initial figures. I was afraid that they would feel obsolete, but they have also gotten an increase in levels. The initial Skylanders capped them at level ten, now they have been expanded to 15 levels (so you can progress them to new powers).

New Regular-sized Figurines: There are eight new character figures (Pop Fizz, Chill, Flashwing, Sprocket, Hot Dog, Shroom Boom, Jet Vac and Fright Rider) with a couple of new features as well as new reposed characters featured already in the first game (they are distinguished as Series 2 on packaging) that light up (like the Giants) with these same new features and a Smart Bomb attack mode.

I love Skylanders, it's just a fact. I might have hoped that this new incarnation might have taken a few more chances and varied the game play. I might also have hoped it was longer and more intricate. But it is solidly entertaining. Just be cautious, as in the original--the soul gems will convince your kids that they need more, more, and even more. While it doesn't look like the financial commitment will hit as deeply this time around, it is still a sizable investment for avid collectors or completists. KGHarris, 10/12.
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on October 26, 2012
I picked up the game with my five-year-old last week on launch day and we are thoroughly enjoying playing it. It's as much( or more) fun as the first and we love the new levels and characters we've played so far. I'm writing this because of the rampant misinformation in the game stores.

We bought the starter kit because the sales reps at 2 different Gamestops told us the old wireless portal had compatibility issues with the new game and figures. One guy said the Lightcore figures would not illuminate and the other guy affirmed it and added that you cannot play a legacy Skylander figure and a new giant on the old portal. I did some basic review without finding confirmation of this and figured for the small price difference and extra characters, I'd try the new Starter Kit. We currently own around 8 or 9 legacy figures and the old portal.
The Gamestop reps were wrong. I have tried both the new, wired portal, and the old, wireless portal. THERE ARE NO NEGATIVE DIFFERENCES IN NEW GAMEPLAY PERFORMANCE WITH THE OLD PORTAL AND THE NEW GAME. The Gamestop guys were wrong! The new portal, however, is hard-wired to the game system and uses no batteries vs the original which is wirelessly connected and requires 3 AAA batteries. Also the new portal stays illuminated always, even with the Wii turned off as well as the Lightcore character. The old portal seems to have more solid build quality and better detail too. Finally we had many problems switching characters during game play with the new, wired portal and we would get an alert to contact Activision for support. The old portal is not doing this.

Bottom line: If you have the legacy game, characters and portal buy the Portal Owners game, regardless of what the game store rep tells you, unless you want the added characters Jet-Vac and Cynder. Jet-Vac is pretty cool though! (2 extra characters= $15, neither is a Lightcore.) Please post questions below and I will do my best to answer> :)
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My son owns the original Skylanders and a whole host of figures. He bought the Skylanders Giants Portal Owners Pack in the belief that the Portal Owners Pack and the Starter Kit are exactly the same minus a portal, but that's not true. The Starter Kit comes with more figures: one Giant and two regular figures. That's three figures versus the one in the Portal Owners Pack, and the figures are everything in a Skylanders game. Because of that, we are planning to return the Portal Owners Pack and get the Starter Kit.

The original Skylanders figures will work in this game and they remember how far they have leveled up; but they can level up even higher in Giants . . . up to fifteen! Figurines aside, the game levels are easier but last longer.

Can we use the Giants figures in the original Skylanders game? No. We tried that. It didn't work.

My son rates the Owners Portal Pack four stars because it only has one figure, but he loves the game.

UPDATE 10/30/12: My son beat the game in only a few days. Skylanders Giants has only 16 levels compared to the 22 of the old Skylanders game. Because all his old figures were leveled to the maximum possible in the old game, it was easy to beat the new one. He's disappointed he could beat is so quickly, but he still thinks it's a great game.
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on October 23, 2012
Okay, needless to say, the game is great! It'll keep you and the kids entertained for hours.

However, if you plan on collecting all the characters like I did for The first Skylanders game; you'll be disapointed if you buy the Portal Owners pack. First off you only get the disk and one Giant (Tree-Rex) character (boo, hiss, boo!) If you spend an extra $15 bucks and get the starter pack you get the disk, and one Giant (Tree-Rex) and two regular sized characters (Jet Vac & Cynder) *$11.99 each sold separately plus an extra portal of power.

Lets see (for you collectors) the extra two characters you get with the Starter pack run about $12 bucks each separately. Pay an extra $15 bucks on the starter pack, save yourself approximately $9 and the hassle of collecting these two separately. Plus you'll have an extra portal of power in case yours craps out on you. The Starter Pack is the better deal!

Once again, the previous owners of a great game, get screwed over again. More money for less stuff??? Because that's how it works in the long run.
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VINE VOICEon November 20, 2012
Highly recommend the Skylanders Giants game. We got it the day it came out. Even though we could have gotten the Portal Owners game, we were thrilled to buy the one that came WITH a portal because the Skylanders Giants portals PLUG IN to the game console, instead of using batteries (yes, even rechargeables will drive you mad replacing them constantly). Just a side note: In the original Skylanders game, the XBox version had a plug-in portal, but the others all used 3 AA batteries. So we would really suggest getting this one instead: Skylanders Giants Starter Kit

My 8 year old son pointed out that I'd never have to change batteries in the new one, as well as saying we could use our battery one as a backup if the new one broke. (proud mommy)

The Skylanders Giants game: you can use all of the characters from the original game. Of course there are many different types of new characters that your children are convinced they need: ones that light up, the Giants ones, Series 2 ones (which is the same one as in the first game, but modified slightly to make the child want the new one, too!) And there are new regular-sized ones for the Giants game as well.

It's so fun, even for adults, and there are a zillion layers in it. So many different ways to enjoy the game, mini-games, etc. I'm astounded and delighted that there are games like this out for my son and his friends.

It reminded me of when I was young, and got the Final Fantasy game for the first time. And you realized then that there was so much more to do than the basic video games ever prepared you for.

Just my two-cents. It's very fun, the levels, characters, mini-games, even the art in the game, it's all amazing. Besides buying the various characters, you can also buy add on worlds. I've been distressed that my son's 7 and 8 year old friends are playing Call of Duty type games. I'm so glad that there are wholesome games like Skylanders around so my son can enjoy being a kid and killing little bouncy froggies for now, finding gems, doing puzzles, playing a very addictive stone card game, earning money, buying upgrades (that you get to choose from, not just live with, doing battles and hero quests, and so much more that you may get so lost in the game that may or may not stay up late a couple nights "checking the game out." ;-)

Last year we went all out in what we jokingly referred to as the Ultimate Skylanders mini-game, that's when the parents run from store to store, or online site to online site, in order to track down the various just-released or hard-to-find Skylanders, especially when Activision was caught off guard by the HUGE interest that didn't match up the with the inventory.

We set a budget on it this year, though. And whatever we get, we get. But the game itself is so much fun, and has so much to offer, that we would highly recommend it. Hope this helps someone.
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on November 11, 2012
My title says it all. We have almost the entire collection for the original game, which my 8-yr old has played repeatedly. While he enjoyed the edition of the giant figures with this one, his assessment is that the Skylanders Giants game itself is not as interesting and he was disappointed that this game has only 16 levels, while the original has more than 20. He's not sure he will even play this one again-- compared to the original, which he played all last year. A disappointment, considering the price. And for whatever reason, the figures seem to lose energy and need to "rest" more quickly in this game. In short, your die-hard Skylanders fans will enjoy it, but not as much.
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on November 20, 2012
I bought this for my grandson who is 8 and autistic. He already had the original game and portal and all the characters and now he has new figures to get and new adventures to unlock. Ready made gifts for the holidays!!
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on July 18, 2013
This is another example of a manufacturer trying to capitalize on a good product (Spyros Adventure) by getting kids to want the next version. My kids played this for a couple of days and then said they were bored with it.
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on October 27, 2012
The Starter Pack is only $15 more but you get 3 figures. Only 1 figure comes in this pack. Not sure why they priced it like this. The Game is great. This is a very good part II Most (maybe all) of the characters from the first game will work in this game. I think there is 8 new giant characters and maybe 16 new new regular sized characters.

Also another reason to buy the Starter Pack is the new wired portal it does not take batteries. I am not sure if the new light up charters will light up on the old portal.
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on April 2, 2013
As a game my kids really enjoy Skylanders. They can play it for hours without arguing with each other. The portal is a bit large to have sitting with all the other various Wii and Xbox 360 controllers. You get used to it after awhile. The game play isn't graphic and its very kid friendly.

The biggest con for you, as a parent, is that you will be hounded for the additional guys who are sold separately. Plus all the ones that are specials at only certain store. Then the expansion comes out and you need a new game, without portal thankfully, and a whole set of new guys. Although the old ones work the kids want the newer Giants.

So its fun but the spending doesn't stop with the portal owners pack.
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