Pros: fun, teaches hand-eye coordination and reinforces physics (really!)
Cons: no ball storage
Ho! Just what I wanted for Christmas: a trampoline! Except that this trampoline's only about two inches across. It's not a trampoline to bounce on, it's a trampoline to bounce off! My new trampoline is the center point of Hasbro's Bulls-Eye Ball Platinum, one of a series of three such games.
The concept of the game is pretty simple - it's a desktop version of one of the bulls-eye game you've probably seen (or wasted some change on) at a carnival booth. Your task is to get a steel ball bearing into a tilted target in the shape of a three-ring bulls-eye, except that instead of lobbing the ball at the target you bounce it off the trampoline. Hitting the bulls-eye's smallest ring earns three points; the next ring, two; and the outer ring, one. The game comes with a packet of twelve balls, which the game returns to a tray at the front of the game when (and if) they pass through one of the three scoring holes on the target.
Now, this thing wouldn't be much fun if that were all the game did, right? Since it's electronic, though, you'd guess there the game has score-keeping and timing functions, a voice to cheer you on, and a selection of different modes. You'd be correct. This version of Bulls-Eye Ball has four playing modes:
Thirty-Second Blitz: Who can score the most points in thirty seconds?
Twenty-Five Point Rush: Who can score twenty-five points in the shortest time?
Bulls-Eye Ace: Who can score the most bulls-eyes before missing ten times?
Practice Mode: Toss a few - or a few hundred - balls to hone your skills as a Bulls-Eye Ball hustler.
The Platinum Edition of Bulls-Eye Ball differs from the other two versions in that it has an electronic scoreboard/timer, which they do not. Not only does the synthesized voice keep you informed as to your score, there's a small liquid-crystal timer built into the top of the game. The contrast on this screen can be adjusted if need be. Next to the digital display is a blue light that flashes whenever a player scores a bulls-eye.
Electronic features include a welcoming growl from Tiger Games and announcement of the current game mode and high scores. An endless loop of exciting electronic music plays in the background from the moment the game's turned on. After each round, the voice announces the player's score and says nice, encouraging things like "you're improving," "not bad," "you can do better," and so forth. Unlike some games (e.g., Bop It) the announcer makes no disparaging remarks even if you have a really, really, really bad game.
Four buttons along the side control choice of game mode, announce the current high score (or reset it), toggle between two volume settings and sound off, and turn off the game. It also goes to "sleep" if left alone for more than two minutes.
Other editions of Bulls-Eye Ball differ in lacking the scoreboard, and they're decorated differently - this version is silver, black, and blue; the others are more colorful. Bulls-Eye Ball 2, however, has a fourth game mode that's not available on the Platinum edition.
Bulls-Eye Ball comes almost completely assembled. You'll need to snap the ball tray into the front of the console and install three AA batteries. Getting into the battery compartment requires a Phillips-head screwdriver.
The game comes with twelve balls in a little zipper plastic bag. There's no storage when the game's not in use, so assume that your kids will lose them over time. A bag of ten replacement balls can be ordered from Hasbro for the sum of $2.00 US; there's even a toll-free number if you're in a hurry.
Fun and Education Quotients
Hasbro places this game in the age seven and up category. I'm on the "up" end, and I find it fun. The stirring electronic music and the element of competition are great entertainment, at least for everyone in this house. Each of the three games has its moments, and the endless loop of electronic music in the background adds a bit of tension. All that encouragement from the talking console doesn't hurt, either.
The game is a good one for improving hand-eye coordination - it's basically target practice with the twist of bouncing off the little trampoline, otherwise it'd be too easy. Educationally, it reinforces the concepts of angles: too steep or too gentle and angle, and you'll miss the board entirely (angle of incidence = angle of reflection). It also teaches how too much or too little force changes your results. Drop from too high or too low, and you'll miss the board, too. Players also practice performing under time pressure, and even multi-tasking - scooping the balls out of the tray with one hand while tossing with the other.
You'll probably also find out how level your floors are, as a lot of balls will be going awry. I'd recommend playing this one on the floor, especially if the players are at the lower end of the age range. Make certain to keep track of the count of ball bearings, since they have a tendency to "wander off."
Plusses and Minuses
Storage for those ball bearings would be nice, but Ziploks are cheap. The ball tray is a little awkward for adult hands, too. I appreciate the options for quiet mode and sound off - as will, I assume, any parents whose kids have one. There's no multiple-player mode, so if more than one player is active they'll either have to remember their scores or reset the console's high score before each round. No biggie.
Overall, loads of fun for kids and adults alike.
More from my toybox:
BopIt Extreme II