Kids’ Games Quick Reviews – Splish Splash, Candy Land Castle, & Bug Out


As I’ve mentioned before, my 3-year-old daughter (Samantha) and I are beginning to play more and more games together.  And I’ve also been pretty blessed to receive some children’s games from both Gamewright and Out of the Box, so I am trying to catch up a little on doing some reviews for their games as well.  None of these games really need a full review of their own, so I’m going to try out a quick-hit review style to knock out a number of them at a time every so often.

Splish Splash

Heinz Meister (2011)
Gamewright 
2-4 players, Ages 4+
15 minute play time


Game Basics:

Each player is trying to collect enough colored drops of “water” to fill in all the spaces around their player board.  On your turn, you roll a die that will either let you just take any drop from the pool (the splash icon) or let you drop a “pebble” into the pool 2 or 3 times.  When you drop the pebble, you hold it at about a foot above the box and then try to get it to land in the pond and make some of the droplets splash out.  Then you get to take any you need to place on your board.  You basically then take turns rolling and dropping until someone fills up their player board.

Rating:

I like a lot of things about this little game.  First of all, it looks really great, is fantastically colorful, and has a pretty unique mechanic for scoring.  I really like how you use the box to hold the molded plastic “pond” (which would be really flimsy otherwise).  It’s also pretty cool how there is at least a hint of a dexterity element to the game.

The big flaw of the game, however, is that it just doesn’t work very well.  Since the wooden droplet pieces lay down flat on top of each other, after the first few turns of the game, it’s really hard to get any to splash out.  So then you either have to start throwing the pebble with some force into the pond or drop it from a lot higher than 1 foot.  But then the little kids (and their embarrassed dads) just miss the pond altogether and you have to chase the little pebble thingy around the room before the baby picks it up, tries to eat it, and chokes to death.

The end result is that the game just goes on too long and gets too frustrating for young kids (the target audience of the game) to really have much fun with it.  I could see older kids doing a lot better bringing more of a dexterity element to the game (like standing above it and dropping the pebble all the way to the floor), but then there’s not a lot of depth otherwise in the game to hold their attention.  Maybe if the droplets were actually rounded and 3-dimensionally shaped like a droplet it would work better, but as it is, I don’t know that I can really recommend it.  



The “pond”

Candy Land Castle
Uncredited design (2007)
Hasbro
2-4 players, Ages 3+
5 minute play time


Game Basics:
Each player takes a gingerbread man (or lady) board which has spots for 4 colored shapes on its 4 limbs.  You then take turns pulling down the little candycane lever thingy, which makes one shape fall out of the castle.  It it matches a spot on your board, you keep it; otherwise, you put it back into the top of the castle.  Whoever fills their board first, wins. 

Rating:


Obviously, this game is very similar to Splish Splash and Go Away Monster!, in that you’re basically just randomly collecting things to fill up a board in order to win.  What makes it cool, of course, is the gorgeous little castle device that spits out the shape tiles.  And between it, the colorful gingerbread-man player boards, and the chunky, plastic shape tiles, the game looks fantastic and makes children want to play it. 

Clearly, this type of game is aimed at the youngest players and have no real decisions to make.  Where this one succeeds (like Go Away Monster!) where others fail (Splish Splash) is in its theme, appearance, and play time.  Kids will certainly want to play with the castle thingy, and even though the game could get boring pretty quickly, there’s really no way for it to go on longer than 5 or so minutes, which usually leaves my 3-year-old wanting another game or two before her attention span wears out.  



Bug Out
(Unsure of Designer) (2011)
Out of the Box
2-6 players, Ages 5+
5 minute play time

 
Game Basics:
Bug Out comes with two small decks of cards, one round and one square, where each “bug card” (the round ones) has a matching “leaf card” (the square ones).  You then spread the bug cards out all over the table or all around the room or wherever you want to put them, then deal out the leaf cards to everyone, and say “go!”  Whoever can cover matching bug cards with all their leaf cards first is the winner.


Card art
Rating:


There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this game.  It has some great art, a nice theme, and plays quickly.  You can even give younger kids an advantage by dealing them less cards. 

However, two things make me a little cautious about recommending it.  First is the weight of the cards themselves, which are pretty flimsy.  They look great, but especially when handled by excited children running around in a frenzy, I’m really afraid that they won’t last long at all.

The second thing is that this is a game you can play with absolutely any set of Memory cards or tiles (which most of you with kids probably already have).  In fact, since Samantha is still a little young for actual Memory, we normally play it this way (or similarly, anyhow) already.  

I don’t feel bad at all, however, recommending this game to you if you think your kids will like the art and the buggy theme.  For me, though, I would rather have seen this same art on a set of heavier-weight tiles that you could use to either play this game as designed or use to play some Memory variant.



The backs of the leaf cards
     


 = I think that there’s something really special about this game.  It either has rather universal appeal or has been exceptionally fun for me and my family.  Definitely pick it up! 
= This is a solid game, and I would recommend it to most parents, usually with some guidelines about what kind of children I think might enjoy it most.
= There’s something about this game that makes me a little uneasy about it.  It may still be interesting or fun for some children, but be cautious in picking this up unless you’re confident that your child will like it. 
= This game is broken, stupid, and/or boring; do not buy it!

 

1 Comment


  1. The dexterity bit on ‘Splish Splash’ actually sounds neat. Too bad it doesn’t work as great in practice. Wouldn’t be surprised if it ever gets adapted for a more serious hobby game some day…

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