Kids games…lets be honest, a lot of them really are terrible. Too often they are a gimmick with bright colors on the box that are more toy than a game. There are some really good ones out there though. I always say to parents, that it is more important to find a game that they want to play. Don’t worry about the kids; kids love all games and just want to play with you, so if you also like the game they get to play more 🙂
There are some good classics out there. Guess Who, Operation and Battleships all have fond places in my memory. Others like Snakes and Ladders make me want to tear my eyeballs out (incidentally this games origins are in India and were used to teach ideas of Karma, and how good deeds would move you closer to Salvation, and bad deeds towards reincarnation as a lower form of life). Kids often get frustrated with it as they know they have no control over the game and when they lose will get upset because in games of chance we will more often than not focus on the bad breaks rather than the good ones.
Fear not though, those crazy Germans (and a few French) are experts at making kids games that are fun for both adults and kids. In my opinion a good kids game needs the following:
- Decisions. You need to feel that you have some control over what you are doing.
- Luck. A healthy dose as well. Its the great equalizer, meaning that parents don’t have to lose on purpose as they will often just get unlucky.
- Great components. Its needs to have fun bits and a little gimmick will often help, In a lot of cases this will be a magnet…in Kalimambo its miniature turds!
- A story element. If the game has a good theme then kids will get into it and enjoy the story feel of it. If they lose they will often not even care as they enjoyed the process so much.
- Surprise. Some element of the unknown that breaks up the game. Something hidden, somewhere, somehow.
After you’ve put the kids to bed it’d be nice if the game was fun enough to play with grown up kids and by grown up kids I mean slightly sozzled adults. Well I’m an adult and have 2 kids and sometimes get a bit sozzled…I even have a friend or two, so here’s primarily a list of great kids game, with their adaptability rating to turn into a late night stooopid drunk game:
Its kind of like the aforementioned Snakes and Ladders I just roundly dissed, but good. First to the top of the stairs wins. Roll a dice and move that many steps (sounds familiar?). However on two sides of the dice there is a ghost, if you role that you take a ghost piece and plonk him on your pawn. A magnet will lock him in place. Eventually you will all become ghosts and guess what, you get distracted for a second, turn back to the game and….just a second, which was my guy? That’s right they all look the same. Not only that. Once you are all ghosts if you role a ghost, you can switch two players on the board. I know, you think you wont forget, how could you forget? Trust me…YOU WILL FORGET which is your piece. Once one gets to the top, reveal who it is and you have winner.
Its quick, only taking 15 minutes, and simple for little ones. Kids do not care if they win or not, their favorite part is looking under the ghost at the end to see who has won, which they think is hilarious when they find out Mummy was moving their piece by mistake the whole time.
Sozzolometer – You can probably guess that this game works pretty well with silly adults. It even comes with an ‘advanced’ rule where instead of switching ghosts you can switch the player colour markers instead, just for added confusion. The moment when someone says how they will not forget this time and then halfway through the game , pauses and goes ‘**** I totally forgot which one is mine’ is priceless. 7/10.
The Enchanted Tower
The winner of last years Kids Game of the Year. Its like a cross between pop-up pirate and an advent calendar. One player is the Sorcerer, the others jointly control the Robin. The object is to find the key hidden in the board by the Sorcerer and try one the the 6 key holes to free the Princess, who will pop out of her tower if the correct hole is chosen. The Robin gets a head start to start searching, but the Sorcerer knows where the key is hidden. Magnets under each piece will lift out the key if you go to the right spot. The bits in this are awesome. Kids love hiding the key (and will often be quite sneaky by opening numerous holes so you can’t get a hint by hearing where it goes). They love the excitement of putting the key in and hoping the Princess will pop out. The Sorcerer will often pretend to go one way to throw the Robin off the trail and when the keys pops out it looks great.
Sozzolometer – nope sorry, doesn’t work I’m afraid. Its strictly one for the kids, but you’ll also enjoy it with them. 3/10
Huzzah, it has a picture of a blinged out Orangutang smoking a banana on the front, that’s a good start. Its a race to the top of the fruit tree. You play in pairs, one person rolls the 6 fruit dice looking to get sets of fruit (e.g. 3 pineapples, 3 pairs of fruit or a fruit full house), the other rolls three monkey dice trying to get three monkeys. You can roll as fast as you like, setting aside what you want to keep, its a race. As soon as 3 monkeys are rolled or the fruity player is happy, you bash a squeaky banana and the winner moves up the tree. Then the dice are passed one place to the left and a new pair battles. The player rolling the monkey dice only ever move up one spot if they win, whereas the fruit dude can move up to 12, so all other players are cheering for the monkeys. Its a lot of fun and dice will go everywhere. Its only really suitable for 6 year olds and up I would think, as younger children would have a hard time rolling the dice and processing a good roll as quick as an adult.
Sozzolometer – we’ve had post bar people hit the cafe looking for something new, but not in a state to learn anything difficult and this goes down very well. Everyone is cheering for the dice and when those three monkeys hit you’ll hear a big roar and a lot of laughs. 9/10
The Magic Labyrinth
Its a Maze game, where you can’t see the maze! Its hidden under the board. You can add pieces of the maze to make it easier or harder depending on how old the kids playing are. Again a powerful magnet is used, this time to hold a metal ball in place under your wizard piece with the board in-between. You wander through the maze trying to pick up tokens, but when you walk over an ‘invisible’ wall it’ll knock your ball off and you have to go back to the start, remembering not to go that way again. Its quite a thinky game, with a good memory required and kids love the maze aspect with the walls.
Sozzolometer – you probably will have a hard time remembering your own name, never mind where the walls are. Don’t play this one. 2/10
This is it, the ultimate kids/adult game. The plane spins around and you use your lever to knock him over your chickens so they don’t fall down. Last man with chickens wins. Kids love it, adults love it. We all love it.
Sozzolometer – ’nuff said. 10/10