Finding a children's game that our family will enjoy playing is very hard, at least it is for my family. I must admit that most children's games are not even on my radar due to the fact that I enjoy games that fall into the heavier strategy category. On the other side of the same coin I do not expect my kids to pick up Power Grid and enjoy themselves.
So here is my dilemma. Finding a game that will keep my kids attention and be educational at the same time. By educational I mean a game that will allow them to make decisions that challenge their intellect on their current level. In The Suitcase Detectives our family has a game that is both fun and allows my children to be challenged intellectually.
The Suitcase Detectives is a game for 2-4 players ages five and up and plays in about 15 minutes. What follows is a few observations about the game and some concluding thoughts.
1. Solid Components. The game components for The Suitcase Detectives are what one desires in a children's game but is often disappointed with. With the game comes the suitcase, a deck of cards, one sand timer, game board, four character pieces, and the objects to be identified. The components are of high quality.
The neatest object in this game is the suitcase. The suitcase contains a drawer where objects to be identified are placed. Players look through a piece of plastic that blurs the objects underneath. Look at the pictures on this site and Haba's website for more detail. In short the suitcase is the main component of the game and is an awesome piece that kid's will love.
2. Easy to Learn and Explain. The Suitcase Detectives is a game that is relatively simple to teach and to play. The rule book is clear and well written. The game concepts are few, concise, and well within the grasp of the age limit on this game. In fact, my three and four year old comfortably play this game.
3. The game can fluctuate difficulty level. Game play is based on a number of objects being place in the observation chamber of the suitcase. Depending on the age and comprehension of your group you can put different types and amounts of objects in the chamber. Have a younger crowd? Just put two or three objects in the chamber. An older crowd? Then put them all in while choosing the one's that will be missing.
4. Gameplay is fast and keeps the players attention. Many times with children's games players are making decisions one at a time while the other players are waiting their turn. This can be good or bad depending on the game and the age group of those playing. In The Suitcase Detectives players take their turn at the same time while one player is in charge of the suitcase for the round. This keeps the game moving as well as provides a level of intensity.
5. Intellectually stimulating for children. Not much has been said up to this point about gameplay but let me make a comment about that here. The game centres around each player having a matching deck of cards based on the objects selected for the current game. Each round one player controls the suitcase and chooses which objects will remain in the suitcase and which one or more will be removed. Players have roughly 30 seconds to pick from their cards which object(s) are missing. Players score points for each correct answer and mover their marker up the score board. First player to finish wins.
The game challenges youth by challenging object recognition. There are multiple types of objects. Shirt, bear, picture frame make up just a few of the objects. Kids have to pick the objects within a set time from. Kind of like an I Spy in a suitcase.
6. The game plays decent with different age groups. This would be a weak area of the game. Younger kids, for the most part, cannot handle the full complement of objects included in the game. The game plays well with different ages but not necessarily all the different age groups playing at the same time.
Concluding thoughts. The Suitcase Detectives is a good game for children. A couple of negative thoughts about the game. First, the game does not have much re-playability. I must define what I mean by much. This game gets played at least once a week in our house, but not every night and usually not more than two are three times an evening. Finding objects in the suitcase can only be done so many times. Second, there is a limited amount of objects in the suitcase. After awhile, older kids especially, will tire of the objects and be able to find them pretty fast.
The Suitcase Detectives is a great game, struggles with varied age groups and has some limited re-playability, but provides a solid game that parents can enjoy with their children.