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Subject: [Review] Monkey Memory rss

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Tom Vasel
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As I've stated in other reviews, I really enjoy the "Bright Idea Games" line from Playroom Entertainment. The games, most of them designed by Reinhard Staupe, are tremendous games for children, simple and easy to play, yet often entertaining for adults. Monkey Memory (Playroom Entertainment, 2005 - Reinhard Staupe), a reissue of Wo ist die Kokosnuss by Amigo, is my favorite of the lot.

Monkey Memory is one of the hardest memory games I've played yet is astoundingly simple. When I teach the game to people - and I've taught it to dozens, they initially think that the game will be extremely simplistic and easy. They're right on the first count, but most people guess wrong during playing. This makes the game a lot of fun, and it's amusing to watch a four year old beat a group of adults, when they KNOW they should win!

Each player (up to eight can play) takes a solution card, that has a picture of ten different items on it (banana, popsicle, cell phone, backpack, keys, shoe, travel bag, watch, coconut, and book). A pile of 22 point cards are placed on the table (+1 on one side, +5 on the other.) One player is chosen to go first and picks seven of the ten objects to use. Each object has a matching pair of cards that goes with it, and one of each card is laid in the middle of the table for all to see. The other card in each pair is shuffled, with one of the cards removed and set aside (no one knows what card it is).

The dealer then shows each card from the shuffled cards, one at a time, placing each card on top of the last, and flipping the whole stack over when they are done. Everyone then must simultaneously point to the picture on their solution card that matches the missing card. The set aside card is revealed, and everyone who is correct gets a point, taking one "+1" card, flipping one of them over if they get five. The next player becomes the dealer, and the game continues. Once everyone has been the dealer twice, the game ends, and the player with the most points is the winner!

Some comments on the game…

1.) Components: The game comes in a small box (illustrated by monkeys) with a cardboard insert that holds the cards in the game well. The cards are of extremely thick cardboard and are incredibly durable. My set has seen heavy (15+ times) play, and I can't tell that the cards are used at all thanks to their sturdiness and white borders. The choice of objects are well done, and it's not possible to mix them up, as none of them remotely look like the others. Using double-sided point cards is a nice touch, as it helps my daughter learn to convert numbers to five, which is very helpful.

2.) Rules: The rules, which come in several languages, take only four pages in a little rules booklet. They are fully illustrated and colored with some examples of how to play. The game is remarkably easy to teach - my daughter brought some friends over to the house who didn't speak any English; yet using simply pantomime, I was able to teach the game, which they then played and had a blast!

3.) Memory: Some people don't like memory games, and I don't think this one will change their minds; but it's the best memory game I've played, because it's fast, simple, and everyone has a chance. Have you ever played Memory Match with someone who guesses all the matches before you have a chance to go? Here that problem is solved by having everyone go simultaneously. Players also have a choice at how fast they reveal the cards, which makes the game easier or harder. I personally like to deal the cards as fast as possible, making the game more of a challenge.

4.) Difficulty: The difficulty of the game can easily be increased or decreased by changing the number of objects on the table. Try the game with all ten cards - you'll be surprised at how hard it can be! I personally like playing with eight or nine - harder than the normal game, but not quite as hard as ten. My five year old daughter and I are about equal in the game; I'm a little better, but she's gaining fast.

5.) Fun Factor: Monkey Memory is one of those games where I can pull it out and teach it (in about thirty seconds), play the game, and put it away before anyone really knows what happens. Everyone has fun for a bit, and then the game's gone, leaving a good taste in everyone's minds. The game is a lot of fun because it challenges so much. Everyone I've taught the game to always assumes they've gotten it right on the first try; but invariably they don't, which makes them try even harder on subsequent deals. In this way, Monkey Memory hooks them in.

If you only get one game from the Bright Idea Games line, Monkey Memory is the one to snag. It's a good, short, memory game that's perfect for groups of adults, groups of adults and children, and groups of children. Even with the twenty-three year age gap between my daughter and me, we still had a tremendous time, and I even played the game with a bunch of pre-schoolers and kindergarteners, and they all had fun and did well. There are very few games that appeal to young children and still work well with adults. Monkey Memory is one of the best.

Tom Vasel
"Real men play board games."
www.tomvasel.com
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We are big fans of the Bright Idea line as well. I only have one minor complaint with Monkey Memory. The themes in these games are obviously, necessarily, quite thin. Here though this is doubly so. If your three year old is expecting Monkeys, the game is called Monkey Memory, and there are Monkeys all the hell over the box, there really ought to be some monkeys IN THE BOX.

Victory point cards do not cut it.

Apparently neither does Dad Dad explaining, "Well, see, the dealer sort of IS the monkey!"
 
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