As much fun as it is to keep up with the latest hotness in complex strategy board games, there are also new kids’ games being released all the time. Many of them are surprisingly fun, even for adults! My 4-year-old daughter and I have had the pleasure of playing a fresh crop of 2018 kids’ games with cooperative rules and happy summer-time themes (provided to us by the publishers). Read on for our thoughts – spoiler alert: we enjoyed them all!
Here’s another game where the box is used in a creative way – a popular trend! Blue Orange Games is quite good at this purposeful box technique. Happy Bunny is a cute game about rolling, moving and plucking carrots. Can you cooperate to help the bunny get more carrots than the farmer? (Only the bitten carrots belong to the bunny.)
As an adult, I’m not wild about the simplistic lack of choices in Happy Bunny, nor the roll-and-move mechanic. However, my daughter really enjoys the game – and this review isn’t just about me. I’m glad that she likes it. For what it’s worth, of these three games, this one has the lowest barrier to entry in terms of age. Also, it’s a fast game, which can be great if bedtime is looming. The game is satisfying in a tactile way, plucking the carrots out of the ground and hoping for the best can be fun. (All the leafy tops look identical, so the carrot length is not apparent until after they’re plucked.) The components are of very good quality. But, unfortunately, there is little to no strategy here.
- Positives: Lovable theme, innovative box, plucking carrots is fun, fast and suitable for young ‘uns.
- Negatives: Mostly randomness, very little strategy.
- [BGG link]
Lemonade Shake Up!
Peaceable Kingdom is the publisher of many games that my family enjoys. Now owned by Mindware their latest offering, Lemonade Shake Up! is a refreshingly sweet and simple game about dice-rolling and recipe-making. In this quick cooperative game, players take turns rolling dice in an effort to make lemonade, strawberry lemonade or limeade. (Keep the dice you like and re-roll the rest.) There are a variety of customers and each one has a specific order and quarters in hand. The more difficult the drink recipe, the bigger the payout! Hopefully, you and your teammates can sell enough lemonade to fill a jar full of quarters!
Setup is a snap. Lemonade Shake Up only takes 15 minutes and it’s easy to teach and understand. The theme of a lemonade stand is evergreen and kids latch onto it. As with most dice-based games, there’s a healthy dose of luck here. Yet, pulling off the tough limeade recipe can still be thrilling, because players always have the choice of which dice to re-roll. We both enjoyed this one a lot! The components are good and the customer illustrations are funny. The limeade can be a really tough recipe, but maybe that difficulty can teach kids to be kind losers. If your kid(s) get burned out on games, this one even has actual recipes you can try. (We did!)
- Positives: Great theme and illustrations, fun mechanics, some exciting (lucky) moments.
- Negatives: Can be tough (especially limeade), bad rolls are a bummer.
- [BGG link] [Mindware]
Where’s Mr. Wolf?
Where’s Mr. Wolf? might have dethroned Monster Chase as my favorite in the memory-game genre. This is coming from someone who doesn’t typically enjoy memory games! First of all, the game box forms the yard-like playing surface, with the help of some sturdy little farm sheds. I always think it’s cool when a box is used to play the game! In Where’s Mr. Wolf? the farm yard is populated with a variety of farm animal tokens – and a few wolves – face down. Then, players work together to find the animals and put them in the correct sheds based on the shed tiles.
I appreciate the two difficulty levels. “Easy” shed tiles require two animals, while the harder tiles require three animals. What separates this game from others in the memory genre – is that players must not only remember the animals in the farm yard and remember where the wolf tokens are, but also remember which animals have already been put in the sheds. This second dimension adds difficulty, whereas most memory games are one-dimensional. My daughter and I both enjoyed this one!
- Positives: Cool box & good components, great memory mechanics, variable difficulty.
- Negatives: Not everyone likes memory games, younger kids might need hints.
- [BGG link]
These three kids’ games have been getting A TON of action at my house. Just in the past few weeks we’ve logged a dozen or more plays. My daughter can’t get enough! While kids’ games may not be MY favorite games in the world, I am more than happy to play one of these delightful games instead of Candy Land. If you’d like more family game suggestions, check out my new recurring feature “Games We Love.” Have a fun summer!