Toy Test: Games
MetroKids Toy Test 2013 game reviews
The following games were tested by MK readers and their kids, then rated on a scale of 0-10, with 10 being the highest grade. Tester comments follow each rating. Games will be added as reviews roll in, so check back often.
The game: A brainteaser puzzle game that has players covering "condiment" toppings with holey "cheese" cards. It can be played by a group or solo, and is meant to encourage visual-spatial thinking, reaction time and interaction. (6+)
The testers: Carlita (8) and mom Licinia, Wilmington, DE
Game appeal: 6. "At first, Carlita was very excited to learn a new card game. The package was attractive and it looked like lots of fun. But once we figured out how to play it was rather frustrating, since you had to keep trying to find a 'cheese slice' that would cover the condiments on the playing cards. The idea of the game is to win 5 slides of 'bread' and you are declared a winner. Unfortunately, it was rather frustrating trying to find the right 'cheese slice.' Neither of us could win more than 1 'slice of bread' before giving up, and that was after 10 minutes. The package looked like the game would be played differently, and I was surprised once I read the directions on how this game should be played."
Educational value: 4. "I think the concept of the game is good and could have educational components, such as analytical reasoning. However, that is lost when the game takes a while to play. Carlita learned more about being frustrated than about problem-solving. There is no way this game can be played by a 6-year-old. My daughter is 8 and she struggled."
Functionality: 10."This was an easy game to set up right out of the box, just one deck of 'bread slices' and different cheese shapes. I kept the cheese in the box to keep it organized as we played the game. The directions were simple and easy to follow. The size of the game allows it to be easily taken along on road trips or visits to other places."
Durability: 9. The deck of cards and cheese are constructed in cardstock and foam. They will endure years of play by children and adults of all ages.
The upshot: "I was quite disappointed in this game. We love to play card games and when Carlita saw the game box she was very excited to learn it. However, once we tried playing it (and we tried several times), the level of frustration for the players to find the right cheese slice diminished the enjoyment of the game. Maybe if there were more people playing it might help decrease the time spent finding the right cheese slice (we had 3 players). However, for an 8-year-old who can play more complex card games, this game was disappointing. We never could get to have a winner of our game, and the amount of time spent seeking for the right cheese slice to cover the 'condiments' of the 'bread' playing cards was ridiculous. This game would be better if there were numbers embedded on the cheese slice that corresponded to the correct playing card. If a guide or numbers were included, it would make this game easier to conclude."
Carlita's take: “I liked the picture on the box. The flea is silly. I like the cheese because I feel like I can eat it." And, “I did not like this game. It was not easy. I couldn’t figure out which cheese slice covered my bread. If you have the ketchup on your bread it’s really hard to cover with a cheese slice. It was not fun. I didn’t like starting all over and over again with the cheese when I couldn’t find the right cheese. I didn’t like not winning.”
The game: A pass-and-play drawing guessing game on a different platform – an illuminated tabled with "click-and-clear" technology. Based on the popular Draw Something app. (8+)
Testers: Nelson (9), Elijah (7) and mom Christine, Palmyra, NJ
Appeal: 9. "My children were very curious to see what it was and eager to play. The game matched the photo on the package."
Educational value: 7. "It keeps you thinking, trying to connect the drawing with a person, place or thing. It introduces them to new vocabulary they might not have known before. They get to practice their drawing skills."
Functionality: 9. There is nothing to assemble. The directions were easy to understand. The kids didn’t know the meaning of every word, but each card has three choices to draw. It was hard for them to hold the card and draw, so I found it easier if you sat at a table or held the tablet on a TV tray. Also, I think the timer could be a little longer.
Durability: 4. "The quality of the drawing screen could be better. Sometimes when you were drawing it would not take and disappear. Also, you could not write on the bottom half-inch of the screen."
Recommendation: I would buy this toy for my child. "It is a simple, compact, fun game that the whole family could play together. It is exciting and gets everybody to interact."
Kid's take: Elijah said,”I like drawing fun things” and “I don’t like that the timer went too fast.” Nelson said, “I liked drawing” and “I didn’t like when I couldn’t guess what other people were drawing.”
The game: A symbol-matching, color-coordinated dice game. Encourages focus, fine motor skills, visual perception. (7+)
Testers: Sean (9), Cole (7), Liam (5) and mom Christina, Glenside, PA
Appeal: 9. "Right away this seemed like a simple game – I was initially worried it would be boring, but on the contrary, it immediately brought out a lot of energy from the kids as they raced to find matches."
Educational value: 5. "There is nothing particularly educational about this game. It's simply about making careful but quick visual decisions. It definitely requires the players to pay attention."
Functionality: 10. "This is a game that comes in its own travel bag, requires no setup and can be played anywhere. Great to just stow in the car. After quickly reading the directions, the kids jumped right in."
Durability: 10. "Assuming we don't lose the die, this game will be around for a long time. High quality and long-lasting."
Recommendation: I would buy this toy for my child. "They had a great time with it – I might even buy two, one to keep on me for those times when we need something to do on the go. I would definitely recommend this toy to other parents who are looking for a new game for their kids to play. Competitive and lively but easy for all ages."
Kid's take: Sean said, “I like finding matches but I don't like it when my brother beats me.”
The game: Set marble trios on the gameboard according to patterns in the shaker. Encourages spatial relations, fine motor skills, visual discrimination. (8+)
Testers: Sean (9), Cole (7), Liam (5) and mom Christina, Glenside, PA
Appeal: 8. "The boys were immediately drawn to this game because it contains colorful marbles. They were excited to play with it, and it the game definitely matched the description."
Educational value: 6. "This is a game geared for ages 8 and up, probably due to the inclusion of marbles, but my 5-year-old was able to jump right in and play along with the big kids. Requires both strategy and spatial awareness skills but just enough chance to make it fun for multi-age play. Quick and easy to play but one the kids want to play over and over."
Functionality: 10. "Very simple and easy to set up. Marble 'dice' are contained in a shaker. The kids checked the directions quickly and jumped right in. The only disappointment is that it's just a two-player game."
Durability: 10. "High-quality game. We just need to make sure we hang on to the marbles."
Recommendation: I would buy this toy for my child. "Although I try to avoid toys with marbles, my kids are big game players and I'm always searching for games that they can play together despite their age differences. This is definitely a game that fits that description. I would definitely recommend this game to other parents because it's different than the traditional board and card games. It's engaging yet easy."
Kid's take: Cole and Liam said, “It has a lot of marbles!” “It's cool and real fun.”
The game: Place a card in your head band, but don't look at what it says. Then guess the word as other players act out the description. (8+)
Testers: Adeline (11) and Abigail (8), Ambler, PA
Appeal: 8. "The children were excited to open it, read the instructions and play. The contents matched the description and box photos."
Educational value: 7. "Good for would-be actors; helps with vocabulary."
Functionality: 9. "It was easy to get started and play flowed along well."
Durability: 7. "The plastic head bands seemd a little flimsy."
Recommendation: I would buy this toy for my child. "Good whole family fun; it's good for different ages."
Kid's take: "Acting out the words is not always easy for children, especailly if they're not quite sure what the word means."
The game: How many juggling balls can KeeKee balance without rocking off the banana at his feet? Encourages manual dexterity, balance awareness and risk assessment. (3+)
The testers: Karly (7) and Garret (5), Garnet Valley, PA
Appeal: "Their first impression was interested. They wanted to take it out of the box and see how to put it together. The description was accurate to the toy, although the box didn't give much detail of what the toy does or its educational value. I think it could have been marketed as a more educational toy or promote the many ways it can be used."
Educational value: "It was educational and promoted interest in balancing, weight and math. They learned that more than one attribute can determine the object (example: color didn't always determine size/weight, etc.).
Functionality: "No assembly required. It was self-explanatory. No matter what children do with the toy, they are learning. They can stack, roll, sort, even if they are not using it to balance."
Durability: "The solid wood pieces are very durable. It does not appear that the paint would chip or the pieces will break."
Recommendation: I would buy this toy for my child. "It has many different ways to play with it. It promotes independent thinking and can be used with one child or many."
Kid's take: Karly said, "What I really like is that you can have as many people you play with you and no one wins or loses." Garrett said, "You have to balance it and if it falls you start over again."