Last week, I Can Do That Games (the same folks who make the Cat in the Hat game Wyatt and I love) kindly sent me a package containing one of their new Curious George games for us to check out. We are big, big fans of Curious George around here — the books, movie, TV show, a quilt and several toys all live in our house — so we were very excited to find the Curious George Hide and Seek Zoo Game inside the FedEx package. The first thing Wyatt spotted was the big, yellow walkie-talkie. What four-year-old doesn’t like a walkie-talkie? None that I know. We were off to a good start. We sat right down and played a couple of games. It was just Wyatt and I for the first round. Dad joined us for the second pass.
The basic game play is really simple and my four year old picked it up in just a couple of turns. The walkie-talkie runs the show. When it’s your turn, you press the button on it and it tells you to do one of three different activities. The most common activity is to turn over a card in one of the four areas of the zoo and match it to the appropriate place on the board. Each card has a “helping” task associated with it — clean, repair, feed or water the animals. You then spin the spinner and pick up any card showing the helping task you get (it doesn’t have to match the card you just drew). The second activity involves moving a school bus across the board along with getting a spin and a chance to pick up another card. The final activity, and by far the most fun, is the hide-and-seek one. When it’s time for hide-and-seek the walkie-talkie makes a siren noise and everyone except the player with the walkie-talkie puts on a mask and hides. After about 30 seconds the music changes and the walkie-talkie instructs you to go to go look for the “animals”. The seeker gets one card for each person he finds and the each hider gets a card if they aren’t located. The game ends when the bus reaches the end of the trail and the person who has the most cards at that point is the winner.
This is a very fun game and there is lots to like about it. A few things in particular that I liked:
- It’s easy for young kids to play. As I said, my four year old picked it up very quickly. Since all the instructions are issued by the walkie-talkie, no reading is required and the concept is simple without being boring.
- The chances to pick up cards are random enough that even the least skilled player can win.
- The hide-and-seek portion of the game gives parents a chance to close the gap if the kids are too far behind. Because really, who wants to soundly beat a preschooler at a board game? I’m not someone who’s going to let her kid win every game he plays, but I also don’t want to devastate him by kicking his booty up and down the zoo. So if he’s too far behind, I can do a really bad job hiding or search and search to no avail. (Of course, it’s pretty hard to keep up the ruse that I can’t find him when he keeps shouting “Try the office Mama!”)
- The game encourages helping and doing chores without being too in-your-face about it.
- The walkie-talkie controls the length of the game and keeps it pretty short. I haven’t timed the games we’ve played, but I’d guess they’ve been about 10-15 minutes. Just about the right amount of time to hold Wyatt’s interest.
- The hide-and-seek part is fun! And the masks make it even sillier.
A few things didn’t go over so well with us:
- Wyatt loves the walkie-talkie. He really, really loves it. While that’s fine during the game, when we’re not playing it can start to grate on my nerves. Several times Wyatt has played with it by pushing the button over and over and over. I can just about handle it until the fourth or fifth time the hide and seek alarm starts to play, then it takes every ounce of self-control I have not to throw the dang thing out the window.
- Some of the pronunciations of words on the walkie-talkie aren’t perfectly clear. Every time it told us to turn over a card in the farm, Wyatt would ask, “Where’s the ‘far’, Mom? I can’t find the ‘far’. Do they mean sa-FAR-i?” Granted, part of the confusion could have been cleared up if Wyatt had clued in that it was saying “farm” sometime before the 20th time I told him, “They’re saying FARM! FARM, Buddy!” but I still had to say it 20 times. Also, when it says “The animals have escaped!” I swear it sounds like it’s saying “The cannibals have escaped!” Hmmm…that’s actually kind of funny.
- I would love to buy this game for birthday party gifts, but at $20, it’s just a bit too expensive. (I’ve set a birthday gift maximum of $15). The price puts it up into niece and nephew gift range.
- Wyatt (and his dad) didn’t really like wearing the masks for hide and seek.
I liked the masks though.
This was definitely a fun game and one that we’ll be playing for awhile, I think. These folks at I Can Do That Games are putting out some really fun games. For the most part, I dread having to play most board games with Wyatt because they’re so freaking boring for grown-ups, but the Curious George Hide and Seek Game and Cat in the Hat – I Can Do That! are fun for both of us.