Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Toyologist Review Week - Games

Games are great for us, because they tend to be largely gender neutral so they appeal to both Monkey and Missy Woo and they can play (and fight) together. They are normally good value for money and they will often get games out over other toys and are great for rainy days. We have tested 3 games for you today. 

First of all is Zingo (£12.99) which is described as "bingo with a zing". The "zing" seems to come from the Zinger card dispenser, which actually dispenses tiles to go on the cards, not the cards themselves. This sets it apart from other sound and words bingo game you might get (we already have one of those). It claims to help teach shape and pattern recognition but as it's aimed at 4 year olds and upwards, this seems a moot point. However, the words AND the picture are both on both sides of the tiles. This means the children just recognise everything based on the pictures as they are relatively simple images. I think it would be better if the tiles had the words on one side, pictures on the other or the words on the tiles and the pictures on the card as our other game has. This would encourage the children to recognise the word and match it to the relevant picture. 

The children did love this - in particular the Zinger dispenser which they spent a lot of time fiddling with. When tidying up, they insisted on putting the tiles in carefully one at a time, which meant that it took quite a while! Overall, it was a hit with the children and a qualified hit with me. I think it could be improved if it's going to be properly educational for the age group it's aimed at. If it's just going to be a game, just say so. 

Next is the Peppa Pig Tumble and Spin game (£9.99) . It is a memory game that features a spinning Peppa Pig that plays the Peppa Pig theme tune whilst spinning then gives you instructions when it stops. Each player plays as one of the characters and has to collect six cards showing that character. The cards are laid face down and the spinning Peppa tells you how many cards you can turn over or to put one back. If you turn over your character, you can keep that card. The trick is to remember where the cards are as they are turned over by the other players. 

This appealed to Missy Woo more than Monkey as this game is more girly as all the featured characters are girls. What we found was that sometimes the spinning Peppa's music didn't stop so had to be spun again or shaken to get Peppa to "speak". Other than that, it was quite enjoyable and a relatively short game, which can be played with 2-4 players. Apart from the music, that is - listening to the theme tune over and over again gets slightly wearing after a while so I will be suggesting that Monkey and Missy Woo play it well away from me! Other than that, we like this game. It would be perfect if the spinning Peppa worked properly all the time. 

And then, finally, we have the Crazy Chefs game, which is a very reasonably priced £6.99, although there is not a great deal to it. It is another variation on the theme of the memory game - players have a chef board and attempt to collect all the ingredients on their board by turning over cards. Once they have collected them, they must spin a spinner first to get a plate and then to "cook" their meal. It's relatively simple to play (and suitable for 3 years upwards) although Missy Woo seem to get the most pleasure by laying all the cards out by herself and placing all the ingredients in the right place on the boards, like some kind of large jigsaw! The spinning part does seem a bit pointless - the game would be fine stopping once a player had found all the ingredients and to be honest, it would be simple enough to leave that part out. I do however think it is good value and a simple game like this would be a great addition as it's easy to understand, doesn't make huge amounts of mess, and doesn't take ages to play. 

Talking of mess, come back tomorrow and we'll have some reviews of crafty/making type things for you. 

(I was provided with the above toys to review and have received no other compensation. The opinions stated here are my own, and have not been influenced by the aforementioned compensation.)
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