Nikoms' Children's Game Disclaimer:
First off, I have noticed that many children's games are lacking much information aside from a basic image and perhaps some of the "side of the box" info. This is too bad, as many of us geeks have children and like to play games with them.
Secondly, many children's games have a two-fold goal, or at least accomplish many goals. That is, they are not only fun for the child, but teach some skill For example, many young children's games might teach counting, colors, fine motor skills, etc., while games aimed at older children might teach memory, problem solving, cooperation, etc. This is not entirely different from adult games - indeed, many games we asults like make us think and use our minds/dexterity as well. However in children's games these skills that are "taught by the game" are usually a little more obvious. As such, in all of my reviews of children's games I will try to have a section on "Skills Developed"
On to the review.
AGES: As can be clearly seen on the box front (at least on the "ThinkFun" version pictured above on the lower left hand corner), the recommended ages is 4-8. I would actually drop this down a little (3-6 perhaps). My 7 year old has moved on to other games, but enjoyed this offering quite regularly, even before his 4th birthday.
COMPONENTS: This is where this particular adaptation of Bingo really starts to shine:
First off, the box! Now, that may seem a small matter to some, but one issue with many children's games (especially ones for kids in the 4-6 year old range - when they want to play by themselves) is a flimsy or poorly designed box. Why? Because flimsy box = lost pieces. Not with Zingo. A sturdy, top-opening box was a nice design idea:
The second component which is well done is the tile dispenser:
Notice two things:
1) It's easy to work for small hands.
2) The "chutes" for the tiles are easy for even young players to help reload the dispenser ("the machine" as it is called in our house)
The tiles are a nice sturdy plastic and a colorful bright yellow.
The cards themselves are a thick, sturdy cardboard with an outer coating (think "game box" material). They are also two-sided, but I'll explain why in "game play".
ThinkFun wisely went with sturdy as a defauly for all the components - sometimes a budgetary oversight in children's games.
GAME PLAY: Again, this is a well-thought out rendition of Bingo and it shows in the game play. First, everyone gets a card - but which side to play? Red or green? Well, it depends on how "competetive" you want this game to be. The green side is for younger players - the green cards have fewer items in common with one another. The red is for older kids who want to be a little more competitive. Okay, that's a nice touch.
But how do we play? Well simple really, the dealer slides the dispenser forward, then back to reveal two tiles. You simply say the name of one of the tiles, but only if it matches one on your card. Now, here is one part of the game that is nice - the tile itself becomes the marker on your card. You pick up the tile and place it on your card directly. No small markers to lose! And there are duplicate tiles, so if you and another player both have the same items, you can still get one later.
The game states that one player is the "dealer" for the whole round, but we like to alternate - just to give everyone a chance to use "the machine".
SKILLS DEVELOPED: I know what you're thinking - it's Bingo - what skills can actually be developed playing Bingo? Well a few actually:
* Taking turns with the "machine" (any game does this, really)
* Fine motor skills (sliding the machine, as well as picking up and placing the tiles and reloading the machine)
* Word association/spelling (the tiles have the words for the object they represent on them as well)
* Counting/numbers ("How many more tiles do you need to win?" or "Who needs more to win, you or Daddy?)
CONCLUSION: This particular version of Bingo is better for young children than traditional Bingo in a few different ways. First off, it actually teaches things as mentioned above. Because it is possible for two players to have the same item, quick recognition is also a goal. Secondly, it plays more quickly than traditional Bingo (and some variations I've seen). And finally, it has a cool contraption that makes tiles "magically" appear. This has been quite popular with our youngest and he even plays it with his younger cousins. A good time is had by all and the components have held up well over time.