Friday, September 9, 2016

Shopkins and matching games, gotta catch them all!

I am coming to the conclusion that matching games are even more common then roll-and-move games when it comes to board games that are aimed at the under five set.

Not that I am really complaining, seeing as how matching games still offer some real choices, as opposed rolling a die and doing whatever it tells you. And I figure that learning matching skills and memory skills is at least as educational as learning how to count spaces.
But, wow, are there a lot of them out there. Every single licensed product under the sun has one, which makes sense. All you need is the artwork and you are ready to go. No further game development necessary.

So every time I find a matching game that has some kind of twist build into it, it's kind of interesting for me.

We recently picked up the Shopkins Make A Deal Matching game, based on the chibi Shopkins toys. Those are cute little anthropomorphized things you buy in stores. Seriously, it's that general. Food, jewelry, wheelbarrels, tennis rackets. If you can buy it with cold hard currency, they will make a cute little figurine of it.

The game follows the general matching game formula, building a grid of facedown tiles and flipping them over to find matches. You know the drill.

Where the twist comes in is that you get one point for each unique tile that you have. If you make a successful match, you can choose to take another turn or to make a deal.

If you make a deal, you get two choices. You can swap a tile with another player, netting you reach a point. Or you can flip a coin with heads letting you steal a tile from another player. It has to be one that they have two of, though. You don't get to steal points.

Mind you, that still not enough to make it really that interesting a game. The swap action only works if you have more than two players and with more than two players, it means that the people not involved in the swap are the ones actually taking a loss. More than that, the entire make a deal series of actions only works once people have got a collection of tiles.

For actual playing purposes, it still doesn't thrill me the way Spot It or Animal Upon Animal do. There are clearly more interesting games for toddlers out there. I still find it interesting to find an additional mechanic and one that fits the theme of got to catch them all.

Huh. Wonder if the mechanic was first developed for a Pokemon matching game.

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