Written By Summer:
Everywhere we go, we bring games. When the kids and I leave the house, I get an arm full of things like this:
If we’re waiting anywhere the kids ask, “What can we play?” I’ve reviewed Blue Orange’s Battle Sheep and Niya, and now they’ve offered me Puzzle Battle which comes in three different varieties – Jungle, Dragon and Princess, and the sample I received for this review was Pirates.
Puzzle battle is designed for players age 6+ and can only have two players. The game time is approximated at 15 minutes. Each Puzzle Battle includes a model for each player (so 2 models), and two puzzles have 30 pieces each. The concept is easy: mix up the pieces, then players simultaneously take pieces to “battle” by completing their own puzzle. The first player to assemble their puzzle is the winner.
Unfortunately, I have to be very honest. I worried about taking this game when the chance to review Puzzle Battle was offered to me, but I’m a huge Blue Orange fan, so I thought I’d give Puzzle Battle a try. And so I began my research.
Test Game (1) me vs. my younger child, (2) me vs. my older child (3) older vs. younger child, (4) older child vs. friend, (5) older vs. his BFF. And the verdict all around – FAIL! So sorry Blue Orange because I do love your games, but Puzzle Battle is not one I’d recommend.
(1) When I played my younger son, I could’ve given him a 15 minute head start and it wouldn’t have mattered. I was going slowly. To his credit it stressed him out, and he kept wanting to see my progress. I couldn’t go slow enough!
(2) I don’t let my kids win when we play games. I may give them the illusion they could win, but I don’t let them win. If they win, they earn it. I was surprised, though, how slow my older son was compared to me. I gave him a bit of a head start, and then started. For every 3-4 pieces I got in, he got one. I had to slow down significantly to my already snail-like pace, BUT then it wasn’t fun for either of us. My older doesn’t like to feel that he has the handicap in a game.
(3) My older son also tried to give his brother the advantage. Older noticed he would win and was intentionally going slow. In the end, my older finished his puzzle and then helped younger. Mix-matched age games don’t seem to work. Older and younger are 2½ year apart in age.
(4) With the previous “mix-matched age” statement out there … A family friend’s daughter, 1½ years younger than my older, came over to play. I thought they might be a better match for playing Puzzle Battle. They both hit the game hard, but she quickly fell behind. She ended up giving up as older began to smoke her. Older, age 7, was playing Puzzle Battle for the third time and he already had the game down and “memorized” the puzzle (even though there are two different puzzle styles – there is one puzzle and the other is the inverted picture with some minor color differences).
(5) Older played his BFF, despite my previous memorization discovery. BFF is from another big gaming family, so I thought the game would be a little closer between the winner and the loser, but it wasn’t. BFF had the same problem as situation #4. Older has the puzzle down.
Older and I could now play Puzzle Battle, but repeating a 30 piece puzzle over and over again doesn’t appeal to him. He would rather play a different game OR build a larger piece puzzle. With the sample provided for this review, I’m going to ask my younger’s Kindergarten teacher if she would like it. My thought is it could be a puzzle (not a battle) for kids to complete. My children are beyond 30 pieces (even younger at 5yo), but not everyone in younger’s class are beyond puzzles this size.
One other thing I don’t really like about Puzzle Battle is all the pieces; 64 in total. If you lose one, you’re out of luck. Other games, for example Blue Orange’s Spot It has a bunch of cards, but if you miss one, no big deal as you can still “Spot It” on every card as they all match up. Another example is Blue Orange’s Yamslam, which has coins you collect and dice; if you lose a dice you can get another easily from another game or dice don’t cost much at any gaming store. Also in Yamslam, if you’re missing a points coin it’s no big deal as it’s just points and doesn’t set any player off as all players can collect any coin. If you’re missing a puzzle piece from Puzzle Battle, then you really have an incomplete game.