Customer Reviews: Mastermind for Kids -- Codebreaking Game Plays on Three Levels
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VINE VOICEon June 18, 2002
Okay, who designs and tests these games?? I don't get it. I also loved Mastermind as a child and bought this one for my 6 year old, figuring it would be easier to learn and play than the 4 peg version. Also it looks really neat in a picture. We opened it up yesterday and she loves it, but it is driving me crazy already. Granted, it is cute, all the pieces are bright colors and of animals, but they are small and they have shallow holes to fit into on the board, so they fall over a lot. A lot! Especially when you have a kid that can't refrain from squirming around for more than 20 seconds. Then, after one falls over, when you try to put it back in its spot, your big fingers knock over their neighbors. Any bump to the board and they all go toppling. Same thing with the red and white pegs. I feel like I am a giant trying to play a little kiddie game. Plus, I really expected it to be harder, more challenging. It took a few rounds for my daughter to get the hang of it, but now the 'secret codes' seem pretty easy to break. There are two different ways they say you can play, and we skipped right over the easy one because it was way too easy. Another minor pet peeve is the little 'cave-like' space you put the hidden color code in. You have to lift that part on and off the board each time you play a game, and in doing so you spill the red and white pegs out of their holder. My daughter always has me lift it off for her as she can't do it gently. AND (I know I am picky, but why don't the designers see these things?) the 'cave-like' space for the secret code gets dark because it is covered, so it is hard to differentiate between colors when you put the pegs in there, the pink, purple and red start to look the same in the cave.
So, if I could go back and do it again, I would just go for the regular Mastermind. In all, my daughter thinks it is great and I like the way it makes her think (flawed logic and all), I just wish it wasn't so clumsy to play though. My rating is high as it is fun (for her), educational and durable because the plastic will last a long time. I just think someone should have seen how unstable the pieces are on the board, and just made it a little more user friendly.
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on March 18, 2002
...and go straight to the original Mastermind. I know I wish I had.
We picked this up for our 9yo son, with an eye toward our 6yo & 7yo nephews. I have fond memories of playing Mastermind as a kid and stumping my brother. The original wasn't available at Christmas, so I ordered this for kids who hadn't seen anything like it before. My son figured out his first pattern in 5 rounds. After that, he never went more than 4 rounds (or moves?) without solving it. We took turns playing with him for about an hour. Once we put it up, we never got it back out. It's just too easy. Our nephews (6 & 7) have since played Mastermind, and enjoy it immensely. It's tough for them, but not too tough. So this set won't get much use from them either.
If your child is younger than 8 or new to this type of game, Mastermind for Kids won't hurt. It might be fun. But you'll soon want to move up. The pieces are a little too easy to knock over, but no more than one should expect. As they are small and plentiful, they also seem easy to lose.
If your game collection is small and limited to essentials, skip this one. If it's large, if you like to have the perfect something for any situation, or you just collect games, then go for it.
It's not a bad game, but it's not a must-have, either.
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on December 3, 2006
Recently received this for our 5 year old and I really cannot recommend it to anyone. Master Mind is a terrific game concept for developing logic, but this version of the game has a few problems. The most important is that, at the slightest bump of furniture or board, the game pieces do not stay in the shallow indentations on the board. Game over. It's really that simple and pretty much that inevitable. Also the scoring peg tray overflows into the secret code location so that every time one digs out a scoring peg a wave of pegs flood the secret code cave. Other comments: the pegs for scoring and the pegs for color coding are not too different in size, and both come in red. The pink is light purple and there is also another purple - confusing to small kids.

If you know original Master Mind, you'll know there's a 4-peg code, and scoring it is such that the "code breaker" doesn't know *which* of his colored pegs is in the correct spot or the correct color. Kid's MM has 3 peg codes, but the scoring indicats *which* peg is in the correct spot and which is the correct color. Thus after a few plays it is close to impossible for a child who "gets" the trick to not guess in about 3 rounds, and it seems to discourage the logic exercise since the feedback from any old guess will do just as well.

What I'm trying to say is that even if the gameboard were well designed I wouldn't recommend the game for kids over 5. But given the tendency for pieces to fall over, I would send the manufacturers back to the drawing board.
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on March 4, 2010
Buy the regular Mastermind instead of this "special" one for kids
This is not easier to use and is poorly made.
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on November 12, 2010
The idea of a simpler version of Mastermind for younger players is sound. BUT... the execution here is extremely poor. The pieces don't fit in the slots so they constantly fall over. While it might be cute to make the pegs animal shapes, that just makes them harder to handle. A better version would have been slightly larger and easier to handle, with the pegs fitting into the slots more firmly. I'm an adult and I find the pieces frustrating, so you can imagine how my 6 yos feel about it. You can essentially turn regular Mastermind into a children's version by eliminating one or more of the color choices (just set them aside before play) and/or one of the slots (just stick a line of masking tape over it until your kid is ready for the more challenging version). Voila! Something that will last longer and that actually works.
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on December 23, 2010
I have long been a passionate owner and user of the Mastermind game. I bought my first one in about 1977 or 1978. I rate it as an absolutely great game. Simple, challenging, just wonderful. So when it recently became time to get a gift for my nine year old grandson, and I ran across the "Mastermind for Kids" I leapt at the chance to get a mental game and purchased it.

I can tell you that few things I have ever purchased have been so badly designed as this piece of crap. I believe that I have a sound basis for the statement, as I have more than forty years experience as a design engineer. Let me explain.

Whereas the original game was entirely "functional" the current kids' version is anything but. First the shape of the pieces. Ok, I "get" that mere pegs like the original used which, although ABSOLUTELY functional simply would NOT work with a kids' version... I mean the pieces have to look like animals or something - otherwise simply too boring and the kid will be back at the video game before the wrapping is in the garbage. Not that it is possible unless foretold to recognize the wacky shapes as animals. But here is the thing.... those silly shapes offer NO opportunity to actually hold them in the hand and place them on the board. That applies to both the larger pieces and the "answer" pieces. No tactile grip is possible. Second, the whole thing is too small to place a piece on the board without knocking over the adjacent pieces. This is all made the worse because of ... Third.. and worst yet... the placement "cavities" on the board are not deep enough to retain the pieces once placed on the board. They fall willy-nilly upon placement.

I simply cannot understand how and why such insane crappy ideas ever get into production. It reeks of inexperienced marketing idiots controlling design. It could not have cost an additional seven cents to make the product usable.

Except for the emotional aspects of the gift I would have take the whole crappy thing and put it in the garbage.
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on January 23, 2014
I originally bought this game for my daughter 20 yrs ago. We still play it to this day and she is 25, we pull it out for fun every once and awhile. This past Christmas I purchased it for my grandson. We played a few games at Christmas, he liked the bright colors and fun animals. There are two different skill levels so he was able to play with me on the easiest level. I hope he enjoys it for as many years as my daughter and I have.
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on August 13, 2011
I loved Mastermind as a kid and was thrilled to see "Mastermind for Kids" come as a gift to my son's 6th birthday. The only problem is that the makers clearly over-thought it. Because the kids version has a ton of small parts and they are no longer "pegs" like the original. Instead they just "sit" on the board which are easily knocked over by young excited hands. AND, the cover for the "solution" is almost impossible for a young kid to pull off without spilling pieces.

We are TIRED of picking up the pieces of this game.

I would go with the REGULAR version of mastermind and save yourself the hassle of constantly picking up these pieces. (the game is the same!)
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on October 2, 2005
This game, with a three-color code, and using zoo animals, is great for kids. (The regular mastermind is four colors). Everyone from my four year old to ten year old and their friends love playing it. It is great for teaching logical deduction. Even if some pieces get lost, as long as you don't lose too many you can still play the game. Highly recommended, along with "Rush Hour for Kids," which builds on the same skills.
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on January 7, 2013
I am so disappointed with this game that I would return it if my dog hadn't chewed up a bunch of the game pieces. The pieces are frustrating to use-- they fall over very easily. I don't know why they didn't stick with pegs. These are little flat-bottomed pieces that are supposed to stay put but do not. And the codemaker's pieces are also tricky to set up-- very difficult for a young child to do alone. Mastermind can easily be altered to play with young kids and it's a great game. I wish I had bought regular Mastermind and simply altered our play rules by using only 3 pieces and/or attempting only to guess colors and not positions. I thought the little animal pieces would be cute, but they are too small and indistinct to make much impact. It is hard for me to understand how this product made it through market-testing, but it appears that many people were satisfied with the product so maybe I and my children are unusually klutzy with the little pieces or something.
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