To appeal to a poker obsessed nation, Trivial Pursuit will have a gambling/betting component for 2010. You can bet on whether someone will know the answer. Seems like an unnecessary complication–but may really make this classic more appealing to some.
We just tried out the new Cir*kis from Hasbro. Much like the strategy game Blokus (originally with Educational Insights but now distributed by Mattel), Cir*kis has a grid platform and you play with plastic pieces. Blokus is much more straightforward and fun to play. See our full review. Cir*kis is more complicated–you’re not blocking your opponent but making your own circles and stars and keeping track with pegs. It’s just not as elegant a game.
Last night at eleven o’clock democracy was in action. The House took a historic vote on health care reform–broadcast on all the cable shows. For a brief moment, the procedure of law making had spilled over from CSPAN to a larger audience. No matter how you come out on health care reform, the picture of all of our law makers battling it out all day and finally taking the vote has to make you pause. Warts and all, it’s a pretty amazing country to live in.
I’m not just feeling patriotic today–there is a toy connection here, I promise.
Consensus Junior Edition by Mindlogic is a fun, engaging game that is all about consensus building (with a little language thrown in). How’s that for a concept in a nation that usually trumpets individuality? Read our complete review of this newly award winning (Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal Award) game.
Here are six great games to think about for the holidays. The complete reviews of these award winners are on our site, www.toyportfolio.com
Active Fun Games
Dr. Seuss Super Stretchy ABC Game (I Can Do That Games)
Pure silly fun
Feeding Frenzy (International Playthings)
Ring-0 Flamingo (Gamewright)
Concepts and Strategy Games
eeBoo Color Dominoes (eeBoo)
Double Shutter (Blue Orange)
We got an email from a family that bought the Great States! Game from International Playthings…in large part because our award seal was on the package (always nice to hear). We were really concerned that the family had a whole host of issues with this board game. There was a mechanical problem with the timer (which was replaced by the company). But the family also brought to my attention some concerns about the accuracy of some of the questions.
So we asked the company to send us another set–we first reviewed the game in 2004 and thought it was possible that it had been changed. We found that out of the 400 question cards there were six that were not completely correct.
The question: Name the three states that board the Pacific Coast? Answer: California, Oregon and Washington. Obviously Alaska and Hawaii have been omitted.
Where’s Alcatraz? Answer: On a small island off the coast of California. Not really, really in the Bay.
The question: Close your eyes and name 7 states that Border Canada. Answer: Correctly includes 13 states but excludes Alaska.
Question: Which is the most Northwestern state? Answer: Washington. Again…we’d go with Alaska.
Most of the questions have to do with a starting point that players are only supposed to include the 48 contiguous states. We agree with the family that complained that these questions should be adjusted.
We still think, after some debate here, that this is an engaging game that helps teach and reinforce American Geography and trivia.
We hope the company will address the questions we’ve identified (the family also took issue with the color of some of the state birds).
Perhaps because I grew up with many maps on my wall and a Dad that loved chronicling all of our journeys in the family Atlas…I have always liked games that work on these skills in a way that’s fun, not mean.
Chickyboom from Blue Orange Games is a fun balancing game that appealed to our school age testers (and their parents). Most balancing toys like this ask players to add pieces – here you take away chicks, bales of hay and wagon wheels…they all have different weights and will affect the balance of the perch. Points are assigned for each of the play pieces–the players with the greatest point value (when the rail finally falls over) wins. Easy to learn –and fun to play. The company says that each round takes about 1o minutes. Our parent testers gave this one a thumbs up. We’re giving this one an Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal Award. A solid gender free choice for kids 4 & up.
Hooray! We have a new silly fun game to tell you about! Ring-o Flamingo from Gamewright is really lots of fun to play. The first thing that our testers loved was the game board. You lock in the pink flamingoes and the two alligators into the board that fits into the box. The game play involves the concept that one of the flamingoes has gone overboard and you have to fling the flamingo a lifesaver as quickly as possible before the alligators get the flamingo! Watch out, you don’t want to get a lifesaver around the neck of one of the alligators. Now here’s the really fun part, each player has a life boat that is loaded with lifesavers–that you “fling” onto the game board. So it’s sort of like play ring toss…but you’re all playing at once. The key is learning how to be far enough away from the board so that you hit the flamingoes repeatedly. The more flamingoes you save the more points you get…and win. Points are deducted if you save the alligators. Fast paced and fun for all ages. We’re giving this one an Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal Award!
The Curious George Discovery Beach Game is great fun (and even looking at a beach on a cold January day made us feel better). The board is really innovative. The board shows a seascape with puzzle like pieces that lift off. Now here’s the really cool part–below the puzzle pieces there is “blue sand” that is safely behind clear panels. Players actually shake the whole board (box) and when they do they redistribute the sand and the hidden treasures. We found that shaking the box was a great hit with players.
The object is to collect six cards representing hidden treasure that you look for on your turn (the spinner tells you where you may look on your turn). So it’s a really fun visual discrimination game that moves pretty quickly (also a plus with this age group).
The other GREAT aspect of this game are the directions…which are much clearer than my explanation I think….kudos to the team at I Can Do That! Games for making the directions so easy we only had to read them once and we were good to go.
Curious George Discovery Beach Game is the type of game your older preschooler and early school age kids will want to play again and again. ($16.95). We have given the game an Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal Award–but we can already tell it will be a strong contender for our year end Platinum Awards.