When we bought this game, the big question we wanted answered was how different was it from the original? We put off buying it, then when we found it on an inexpensive sale, we figured it was worth the risk.
This game will be appreciated by anyone who enjoys the original Cranium and has exhausted the cards of their first game.
The game is played largely the same way as the original. Up to 4 teams move around the board by successfully completing challenges in 4 categories: Data Head, Star Performer, Word Worm and Creative Cat. The board layout is the same, though it's slightly more decorative this time. If memory of the original serves me correctly, the board is also smaller this time around.
All of the original activities from these 4 categories are present. However, they have also added new activities and changed one of the old activities, slightly.
In Data Head, they've added an activity called "Odd Couple," wherein you choose the two items in a list that don't belong with the others.
In Star Performer, they've added an activity called "Slideshow." In this activity one team member moves the arms and legs of another silent team member as you would a marionette. Think of it as charades with a twist. The goal is obviously to get the other players to guess what the puppeteer is trying to demonstrate with the puppet.
In Word Worm, they've changed "Gnilleps" to be a team game, meaning every player on the team takes alternating turns, adding one letter at a time to spell the word in reverse. They've also added "Mindmeld," a word association game where two or more team mates are each given a topic and have to write down 3 words that immediately come to mind when considering the topic. If any of the words between team mates match, the activity is successfully completed.
Club Cranium activities also still exist, but if I remember the original rules correctly, the way Club Craniums are played is slightly different. However, I could just be mistaken in my recollection of the way they were originally played.
We did find in a few instances that we could not complete some of the activities in a 2 person per team game. For example in Slideshow, the puppeteer was someone from the team that drew the card, but the Marionnete was from a different team so that there would still be someone left on the original team to guess what was happening. We just could not play Club Cranium Slideshow.
I found the Data Head questions were much easier than the first game. All of the other activities remained at relatively the same level of difficulty as before.
The addition of character movers with interchangeable hats and hair was cute, though it does not change anything about game play.
Overall, we enjoyed this as much as the original and like the new activities. If you have the original, you might still want to add this to your game collection, especially if you have exhausted all the cards from your first game like we did and especially at this great price of $15.99 (it retails for almost $30 and I'm not sure if I would pay $30 for a duplicate game). If you do not have a Cranium game yet, I would choose this one instead of the first one simply for the added variety.