Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978



Spring 2012 Games
Ages: 6 & Up
Manufacturer: Maranda Enterprises
Price: $29.99

This beautiful game may make you think it is designed to sit on a coffee table or bookcase, destined to puzzle great adult minds, but don't let it confuse you: it is great for kids. We took this game easily out of the package and set the pieces into a cube and set it on our own coffee table, and waited for our kids to take an interest. During the first week, every guest to our house commented on it, and felt compelled to pick up one of the perfectly weighted pieces, or smooth their hand over the finish. I didn't ask my kids to play it, or give them the instructions - I just waited, and after about a week, they both asked to play it. Now they are hooked. The game play is very simple: each of two players (one with light pieces, one with dark) take turns placing a Tetris-like block on the board, trying to make a 4x4 block cube. The last person to place a piece without going out of the cube area wins. Game play is quick, about five to fifteen minutes per round, and can be easy for younger kids, or more strategic as they get older. We usually play two to three rounds per sitting, and we have played it again and again.

In addition to the original game, the packaging suggests three different puzzles to complete. These require placing the shaped blocks to make different patterns in the cube. My son has asked to play with us, and we talk about strategy. He will also sit with it himself, placing the pieces into different shapes. My four-year old also enjoys it, and plays with me on a team. We enjoy having a toy that is easy to begin play and easy to complete a short game, but that also has a lot of potential either when playing with another person, or challenging yourself. Most interestingly, this isn't a toy that will be dropped into our toy bin, or mixed in with the other games. This toy will stay out on our coffee table, inviting players of all ages to tinker, strategize, play, and solve.

Barbara Chamberlin   ©2012 Parents' Choice
Barbara Chamberlin researches and develops educational software and media at New Mexico State University's Learning Games Lab. She and her husband have two boys.

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