Pros: Strategy required, Different.
Cons: Bulky game and hard to get back into box.
Our kids enjoy Cranium brand toys because they're more original than the traditional games. I would have never guessed it when I purchased it but this game actually has some educational value. The player will need a strategy for placing the bumpers on the board to get the balls to go in their direction. The game is recommended for ages 7 and up and takes about 10-20 minutes to play. This game is best for 2 or 3 individual players. Four players can couple up into teams.
It takes a minute to set up the game. Two large pieces of the plastic orange game board are connected then three legs are placed on the bottom. A yellow pin is placed in front of each goal. If two or four players are playing, a goal blocker is inserted in the middle to block off the extra goal. One ball is placed in the middle chute. Arrange the balls and bumpers so that everyone can reach them. The cards should be shuffled and inserted into the card dispenser. Once assembled, this game looks like a pinball game. In our experience, it's best to test run some balls to make sure the board is even and adjust if necessary.
Each player starts the game with 2 cards. The first player will draw their third card and chose one of the three cards to act upon. The cards will have either one or two actions from the following selections: add a bumper, add a ball, move a ball, move a bumper, or release the balls.
The player will want to direct the balls to their goal by placing the bumpers to block the opponent's goal or to direct the ball to their own. The game can quickly change when the opponent uses their card to change the direction of the bumper on the board or to relocate the ball. The game board keeps building with bumpers and balls until someone gets the release the balls card. At that point, the balls will roll down the slope. The marker on the goal is moved for each ball that goes into a player's goal. The first player to get 6 balls into their goal is the winner.
The box recommends this for ages 7 and up. Although the concept looks pretty simple and reading is not required, the 5 & 6 year-old children that I know have had problems playing the game. They love playing it but need assistance to grasp the strategy of where to place the bumpers. Eventually, they catch on.
There's something fun and exciting about watching balls race. Even the adults like watching the game. We are never at a shortage for participants to play.
There are 8 bouncy balls which which could be a choking hazard for a young child. Days later we sometimes find a stray ball that we didn't notice had bounced away while playing the game. A baby could choke on the ball or someone could slip on the ball as they are clear. I just make sure that we have all 8 balls when I put the game away.
The game must be placed on a flat sturdy surface. Everyone will need to have access to this long plastic board. It will be impossible for short arms to reach the ball chute or release the balls while sitting correctly in a chair at the table. It may be a better choice to play it on a coffee table or at a table where the kids can stand.
No batteries are required for this game. The game itself doesn't produce much noise other than bouncy balls rolling down the plastic. Kids get a little excited and cheer. There may be some occasional fighting with cheating accusations.
I hate how difficult it is to get the product back into the box. The game needs to be disassembled and the parts need to be placed strategically together with the accessories in the middle in order for it to fit back into the box. Our children can not get get the items back into the box which means that either they stack the extra pieces on top of the game when they put it away or have me put it away.
If the rules are misplaced, a copy can be printed from Cranium's website. Spare parts can also be purchased online.
The game costs approximately $15-$21. We've had this game for a year now and still play it often. There have been lots of smiles and cheering while playing this game so I would consider it a worthwhile purchase. The kids like that there's no reading required. They do have to wait turns but they are watching the other player to make sure they don't get blocked rather than just waiting for their next turn. This is a fun active game that a variety of ages will enjoy playing a few rounds of.