Top critical review
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Cute concept - absolutely dreadful design.
on December 27, 2010
I bought this game sight unseen with great confidence that it would be a winner based on the glowing reviews here and the fact that it had a sticker on it claiming it had won an award for Best Toy. That was a mistake.
As a TOY - it's a cute concept and it does have some interesting possible applications for storytelling, but as a GAME? Arrrrgh. No. It is just insanely aggravating. If you play it as it is designed to be played it's possibly the most tedious "GAME" ever made.
1. Cute looking pieces that will stimulate kids to come up with some entertaining and inventive stories. I would not say that they are HIGH quality as others have suggested, but rather a medium-quality cardboard. They are not as good a quality as you'll find in say a Ravensburger, Rio Grande, or one of those Reiner Knizia games, but they are miles better than the flimsy cardstock stuff you'll find in most kids games.
1. Poorly constructed, useless spinner. The arrow part is made of a transparent flimsy plastic, and straight out of the box, ours was warped downwards and simply did not SPIN, it drags across the cardboard backing and barely moves -- you have to just nudge it around with your finger, you can't spin it at all -- very frustrating for kindergarten aged kids to try to manipulate. Also, since the arrow is made of clear plastic, it's also hard to see at a glance where it points.
2. TRULY TEDIOUS AWFUL GAMEPLAY. There is no actual game here at all. NONE. You spin endlessly until you get the parts you need, and you can't even begin collecting the parts until you have a "place" piece, so it's insanely frustrating for kids in its target age (5 years and up) to actually play.
The youngest player spins and play proceeds clockwise.
You must spin a "place" piece first before you can begin to collect the other components of a story. If you get anything other than a "place" piece you cannot keep it and must just pass your turn to the next player.
Once you have a "place" piece, you take turns spinning trying to collect the remaining 6 story elements, Hero, Rival, Transportation, Treasure, Magical Helper and Magical Object.
If you land on "Lose a Turn" you lose a turn. If you spin a duplicate piece, you pass your turn to the next player.
The first player to get all 7 story elements wins and gets to tell the story.
MY EXPERIENCE WITH IT:
Our maiden voyage with this "game" we spent eight minutes (fourteen rounds) just passing the spinner around and around taking turns, with everyone getting progressively crabbier and no one getting a "place" piece, before I made an executive decision to ignore that rule and decided that EVERYONE would just pick a "place"piece starting with the youngest player, so we could get things started.
Why did that happen? Well it's poorly designed.
There are 8 possible outcomes on the spinner, so the odds of spinning a "place" piece are only 1 in 8. However until you have a place piece, 7 out of 8 spins will result in you ending your turn with nothing. So before you get a "place" piece the spinner is essentially comprised of 7 lose a turn spots and one "place" piece spot.
As such, it is highly likely that you will spend a good period of time just passing the spinner around and around and around endlessly until someone finally gets a "Place" and the game begins.
ALSO - This means that it's entirely possible for at least one player to NOT get a "Place" piece at all before the game ends.
Does that seem fun? Would that be fun for your 5 and up kids? I think not. It's an awful design.
So once we gave up on that rule and each chose our "place" pieces, we then spent another fifteen minutes spinning around and around to try to collect all the parts. NOT FUN IN ANY WAY. It was the most tedious thing we've EVER played. Worse than Cootie.
Finally to salvage the evening and end the game, I just said "Okay who has the most pieces?" And we had the person with the most pieces (5) tell us a story. Then we let everyone else tell a story with the pieces they had accumulated.
So, if you, like me, bought this thing based on those glowing reviews and find yourself saddled with this sucker in your game collection, what can you do with it?
My recommendation is to just use it as a straight storytelling tool with your kid -- it's cute for that. You could do the same thing with pictures you drew with your child together though and save your money, but like I said, the pieces are cute.
So how we "play" this now is this...We just ignore the rules and the spinner. We have kids pick a "Place", then a hero or rival, then a second hero or rival, and then one each of the remaining elements. We have made up some supplemental elements too and pasted them onto cardboard to add to the "storytelling". Then we each take turns telling our stories. That's a heckuva a lot of fun, and really it's just great for that.
In fact Eeboo, we'd actually buy expansion packs of cardboard punch out story elements to use with these if you sold them just to add new levels to this...I would strongly suggest that you redesign this to be used as a straight storytellers tool and scrap the rules you designed, because they clearly weren't playtested.
No one should bother to play it as a game the way Eeboo has designed it. It's not a game -- it's an exercise in maddening, wearisome monotony. But it does work as a storytelling tool, and that's the only reason this thing is getting two stars from me. We do have fun playing with the pieces separate from the game.
As a toy/educational tool? 4 stars.
As a game? 0 stars.
Thus 2 stars.
It's great if you pull the elements out of it and just ignore their rules.