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3-4 KIDS: A QUICK LOOK AT 3 GAMES FOR THE YOUNGER GENERATION

reviewed by Herb Levy

Kids are people too! And games can provide the same kind of entertainment and learning that we adults manage to take from our own gaming experiences. Here is a quick look at games kids can play with their friends or maybe even their parents! Remember: the kids that play games today are the adult gamers of tomorrow!

 
BUZZWORD JUNIOR (Patch Products, 4 or more players or teams, ages 7 and up, 30 minutes; $20)

 
There’s a huge market for adult party games. With Buzzword Junior, Patch Products has adapted its successful Buzzword adult party game with an eye towards a younger audience.

Buzzword Junior contains 144 two-sided “Buzzword” cards, 5 scoring cards, a 45 second timer, scoreboard and marker. The “buzzword” is printed in the right hand corner of the card and this means that EVERY answer on that card has that word as a part of it. So, for example, if the buzzword is “Butter”, clues on the card might result in answers ranging from Peanut Butter to Butterfly to Butterscotch.

Players divide into teams and someone from the opposing team announces the buzzword and reads, in order, the five clues on the card, moving on to the next clue when the first is answered correctly or the team passes. (If there is time remaining, the team can go back to a passed clue to try to come up with the correct answer.) Answers missed by a team gives the opposing team a chance to steal some extra points and answer. Each team gets 1 point for each correct answer. First team to reach 30 points (or, alternatively, once each team has had an equal number of chances, the team with the most points) wins.

In keeping with its audience, the number of clues on a card has been reduced from ten (in the original game) to five. The rules also offer an alternate play mode where you turn the timer over twice (increasing the time allotted for answers to a minute and a half) to make things easier. And, if there was any doubt as to whom the game is marketed for, our copy of the game comes with a coupon for a FREE Kid’s Meal at Red Robin.

Buzzword Junior is the kind of party game that parents can play with their kids – without getting dirty!

 
SENET: THE ANCIENT TOMB TREASURE GAME

(Mazeology, 2 players, ages 5 and up, about 20 minutes; $19.99)

 
The ancient Egyptians had a remarkable culture, advanced for its time in many ways. Part of this culture was gaming and the most famous relic from that time is Senet, a copy of which was found in the tomb of King Tutankhamen. With Senet: The Ancient Tomb Treasure Game, that ancient game is brought back for a modern audience in a design by Elizabeth Carpenter.

Senet has been published many times. Parker Brothers did a version back in 1946 and Selchow & Righter in 1977 (as did others) to capitalize on the first exhibition of artifacts from the tomb of King Tut when it traveled throughout the United States in the mid-1970s. But the thing about Senet is that the “true” rules to the game have long been lost. Modern editions have tried to fill the gap with their own speculations on how the game should be played. Ms. Carpenter offers her own set of rules to try to give the old game a modern flavor.

The game comes with a mounted board consisting of three tracks of 10 squares each, numbered from 1 to 30. Each player also has five hand-painted pieces (sets of King Tut’s mask highlighted in red and Queen Nefertiti highlighted in blue). Players roll the die and the player rolling the highest number begins by placing one of his pieces on one of the first 10 squares of the board. Play alternates until all of the first 10 spaces are occupied. Now, high roller goes first.

On a turn, you roll the die and move one of your pieces the full amount of the roll. If you roll an odd number, your turn is over once the piece is moved. An even roll extends your turn so you can roll again and move the same or a different piece. This continues until you roll an odd number.

If a player’s piece lands on an opponent’s piece, the pieces CHANGE places with the opponent’s piece moving back to the place from which the attacker started! In addition, if a player manages to get three of his pieces on three spaces in a row, a block is created preventing movement by either player over that block. Spaces 26, 27 and 29 are “safe”; pieces sitting there are immune from attack. On the other hand, space 28 is a “trap”; a piece landing there is forced back to space 15. (This trap can actually force you back to start if 15 is occupied!) Pieces are removed from the board by EXACT number. (So, for example, if you’re on space 30, you need a roll of 1 to get out.) The first player to bear off all five of his pieces wins.

Game production is a mixed bag. The board eschews the traditional wood look of the game, instead opting for a bright day-glo effect. A bit busy and distracting but appealing to younger players who appreciate the strong and vibrant colors. However, there is no quarreling with the exquisite nature of the game pieces. They are gorgeous and heavy to the touch, exceptional in truly capturing the ambiance of ancient Egypt. The game play itself incorporates elements of backgammon (die rolls and bearing off your pieces) with a bit of Parcheesi (blocks and piece position switches). This rules in this version of Senet start with an emphasis on strategy but tend to break down into a die roll luck fest. As play become increasingly dependent on chance, this game becomes less suited for adult players who love to strategize but rather for younger gamers who enjoy the luck element. And, of course, for those who love beautiful playing pieces.

 
TASTES LIKE CHICKEN (Patch Products, 3-6 players, ages 6 and up, about 15 minutes; $7)

 
“Tastes like chicken” is the catch-all phrase used by less discriminating diners (and possibly chefs) when stumped for matching a taste to a new dining experience. In Tastes Like Chicken, matching is the key in this cute game of weird animals.

The game comes packaged in a plastic KETCHUP bottle! (Now, if that doesn’t attract the kids, what will?) The “bottle” flips open to reveal 58 large cards, 54 of these “wacky animals” and 4 Wild Rooster cards. (Rules are in both English and Spanish.)

The wacky animals in the game are animal combinations you’ve never seen in the local zoo. There are eight basic animals: alligator, chicken, cow, frog, lobster, pig, shark and snake. But they have somehow mutated. You have your alligator-snake, your frog-shark, your lobster-pig, well, you get the idea.

All players are dealt a hand of 7 cards with remaining cards forming a draw deck. Turn over the first draw deck card and the race is one. Starting with the youngest player, you must play ONE card that matches either of the two animals shown on the card. If you can, great. Then the next player goes trying to match either animal on the card YOU played. But if you can’t, you say “Tastes Like….” whatever disgusting thing you can think of and draw a card. If that drawn card can be played immediately, play it. Otherwise, your hand grows in size.

A couple of twists. If you play a card featuring a chicken, you say “Tastes Like Chicken” and the NEXT player draws a card and loses his or her turn! A card with a pig requires you to say “Tastes Like Pig” and you get to play another card in a double-turn. The Wild Rooster will match anything and the player placing that card gets to decide WHICH animal it represents but not only that. Turn order REVERSES with the player going previously having to match the card.

The first player to get rid of all the cards he or she is holding wins the game.

If you think Tastes Like Chicken is a lot like UNO, you’re right. But the oversized cards make card handling easy for kids and both the roleplaying elements (calling out “Tastes Like…”) and wacky animals are fun for younger players. Combine all that with that ketchup bottle packaging and you have a charming game sure to delight the younger members of your gaming family and, if you happen to be in the right mood, YOU!


SUMMER 2008 GAMERS ALLIANCE REPORT

 

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