Put the phone down this holiday season while you are gathered with your family. No iPad, Nintendo DS or any other device. Yes, great games are to be found on those, but where is the family bonding?
What you need is a good old-fashioned board game. Some are actually not so old-fashioned at all, employing an iPad or other electronic devices. But all bring a group of people of different ages, beliefs and opinions together for a little family fun.
This year, we took a look at seven new board games, just in time for your holiday get-together.
FUNNY OR DIE ($16.99)
Who • 3 to 6 players, ages 13 and up
What • Based on the hit comedy website, this Hasbro game has players vote on what’s funny and what’s not as they match captions with photos to create the funniest joke.
What we thought • Oh, it’s definitely funny and the more creative you are, the better. But you know which player laid down each card, so it’s easy to sabotage someone or to turn it into a popularity contest. Still, we had a big group playing of all ages (the 13 and up guideline may be due to a few rear-end baring cards), and everyone was amused.
Rating • ★★★ ½
DRAW SOMETHING PARTY GAME ($24.99)
Who • 4 or more players, ages 8 and up
What • Based on the popular app, this Hasbro game is more like a high-tech version of Pictionary. You have an electronic timer instead of an hourglass and the drawing board has moved beyond paper. Instead, you draw with a stylus on a light-up screen that erases with the push of a button.
What we thought • A super-fun party game. We loved everything about this except for the unnecessarily difficult way to get the game cards in and out of the device.
Rating • ★★★
THE TRIVIA COUNTDOWN GAME ($9.95)
Who • 2 or more players,
ages 7 to 12
What • Each Kwizniac Kidz card has five clues in decreasing order of difficulty (like the game they have on the screens at Buffalo Wild Wings). You get more points if you guess after one hard clue than you do after five easy clues. For example, you may get this clue: “It originally launched in Japan in 1996,” which would get you 5 points if you knew the answer. But you may get down to the fifth clue (for 1 point): “The first one of these was a Pikachu.” (It’s Pokémon.) The game is geared toward kids with questions on space, animals, music, TV, movies and games.
What we thought • We loved this game — the first few times we played. But with only 100 cards, we were through it after just a few games.
Rating • ★★
THE GAME OF LIFE: ZAPPED EDITION ($24.99)
Who • 2-4 players, ages 8 and up
What • Use a free app you download on your iPad to create a virtual you who can spin the wheel while the real you plays with your piece on a gameboard. Land on an app square, hit the button on your iPad and watch a short clip from “America’s Funniest Videos.”
What we thought • A lot more fun than a plain old board game, and though I didn’t really get the connection, the “AFV” videos provided lots of laughs for the kids. But the game still takes too long (more than an hour for three of us) to complete.
Rating • ★★★
• See a video of this game in action at stltoday.com/holidays.
Who • 2 to 4 teams, ages 13 and up
What • Another new version of an old classic, Scattergories requires quick thinking. Team up to come up with answers that fit the categories listed on your card that start with the letter rolled on the die. You only score points if your answers are different from the other teams’ answers.
What we thought • It seems just like the old Scattergories game, except for the suggestion of teams. However, there is no reason you can’t play as individuals. That said, it’s a fun game that requires some brain power.
JEEPERS PEEPERS ($29.95)
Who • 2-6 players, ages 5 and up
What • A player takes a card, and without looking at it puts it in the slot of his Jeepers Peepers glasses, so the other players can see the picture on the card but he cannot. The player tries to guess what is on the card after asking a series of yes or no questions.
What we thought • The silly glasses are the most entertaining part of Jeepers Peepers, which is similar to 20 Questions. Like 20 Questions, it gets dull pretty quickly.
Rating • ★★
Who • 2 or more players, ages 4 and up
What • Drawing from a stack of cards with different clues (“Look in your hat” or “Search in the pillow on your bed”), players create a treasure hunt that ends with a Surprise card. The clues are categorized in three levels to suit players’ reading abilities. Players can also write their own clues on the blank cards provided.
What we thought • The rare card game that makes kids move, uKloo also gets kids to practice reading. My three children loved not only finding the clues but also hiding them for their parents. For an added bonus, I put a few little prizes with the Surprise card. This game would be great on a rainy day or on a family vacation.
Rating • ★★★ ½
Note: All of these games can be found on Amazon.com, and many are stocked at most mass-market retailers that sell board games.
★ Don’t bother buying it.
★★ Not horrible to play, but we wouldn’t do it again.
★★★ Fun. We’d play it again.
★★★★ It’s a keeper, and one we’d recommend to our friends.