Each year, Activision prods avid Skylanders fans with the unique figures found in the 3DS Starter bundle. Last year, it was Punch Pop Fizz, a red variant of the Bobcat Goldthwaite-voiced character. This year, all three of the packed-in figures with the portable Skylanders: Swap Force are different than those found in the console version bundles.

The 3DS version, under development at n-Space, will come with Swap Force characters Rattle Shake and Free Ranger. A special version of Eruptor (Volcanic Eruptor) is also included.

The portable version of Swap Force features a completely different story than the console version. Players will join Flynn to rescue Cali from Count Moneybone, a brand new villain.

The console versions of the game come with Ninja Stealth Elf and two Swap Force characters: Wash Buckler and Blast Zone. There is also a GameStop exclusive version that comes with five "dark" variants of characters. They are: Dark Spyro, Dark Ninja Stealth Elf, Dark Wash Buckler, Dark Blast Zone, and Dark Slobber Tooth. (Disclosure: GameStop is Game Informer's parent company.)

Skylanders: Swap Force arrives on October 13, 2013 on Wii U, Wii, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and 3DS. The current-generation console versions are being developed by Vicarious Visions. The Wii version is being handled by Beenox. Xbox One and PlayStation 4 versions are planned as well for release at launch of both of those consoles.


Our Take
My kids love Skylanders, and one of the bummers of getting the 3DS version in past years was that only one character was different (leaving us with duplicates). This year's packed-in figures won't cause that problem. It's also great to see that the portable version is taking a different direction, with a unique story and a new villain.