I love tech', I love anything 'i' (you will rarely see me without my iPhone) and I love board games, so you can imagine my delight when I was assigned these Jumbo Games iPieces for the iPad to review!
I also happen to have a youngest son who is a HUGE iPad fan - he's totally marketing, to his dad, the notion of upgrading to an iPad2 when the 3 comes out, "...because then they'll be cheaper, dad, and I can have this iPad can't I! That's a good idea isn't it!" He's only five-and-a-half, I really don't know where he gets it from.
Anyway, last Friday we threw ourselves into reviewing the Jumbo iPieces Game of Goose and Jumbo iPieces Snakes and Ladders.
Jumbo iPieces Game of Goose
Neither me, Edward or his dad had ever heard of, or played, Game of Goose before so we decided to play this first. The Jumbo iPieces Game of Goose comes in a small hard-shell plastic box containing the pieces, called 'iPawns', instructions on how best to hold and store your iPawns, along with where to find and download the free Game of Goose app.
There are six iPawn pieces, which are very loosely goose-shaped, and each one has a different coloured tummy; I had orange, Edward had red and his dad had purple.
Whilst the Game of Goose app took less than three minutes to download, this was too long for Edward - he wanted to get playing straight away and recommends you download the app first, before you tell your child you have an iPieces game for them to play (he'll ask me if I've told you his little tip!).
With the app duly downloaded, it was time to read the on-screen game instructions. The object of the game is simple - you roll the dice and have to be the first player to get your iPawn iPieces goose to the end.
There were other rules to take note of too - if you landed on the geese follow them to the square they take you to, if you land on a well you miss a turn, if you land on this then this happens etc. By the time we got to the end of the instructions and had tried to remember everything we figured we'd just play and figure out the rest as we went along!
When you put your iPawns on the board it comes to life - geese fly across in the background, frogs are jumping around, there's quacking, birds chirping and frogs croaking; all in all it's very 'cute'.
The board looks very old fashioned so I'm assuming Game of Goose is an old board game from yesteryear (I'm really guessing here, I don't know) and the fact it could be considered quite girly, with the old-fashioned looking girl in the middle, didn't even seem to register in Edward's boy brain; I was quite surprised.
The die is on the screen and you have to 'flick' it to make it roll - can I just say, I. LOVE. THIS! Never again will you be searching for the die that comes with this game; I long for the day when all games have dice you don't have to scrabble under the table, sofa or TV for it when kids get carried away with rolling them.
So you flick the die and move your iPawn the corresponding number of spaces on the board, if you land on a space where there is an action or consequence (like missing a turn or going back/forward a number of spaces) then the board will spring to life and tell you, so you don't have to remember all those instructions at the beginning.
However, you do need to be holding your iPawn properly - on either side of its head, between your thumb and forefinger - and have it flat on the board for this to happen.
Total game play for the three of us around seven minutes and most pleasant and gentile, it made a nice change not to have to fight any bad guys or shoot anything!
Jumbo iPieces Snakes and Ladders
After the success and enjoyment of the Jumbo iPieces Game of Goose, we were all looking forward to seeing what Snakes and Ladders was like. We downloaded the app, took out the iPawns, two metal bridges - we were intrigued by these! - and were ready to play.
By all accounts you can use the bridges to ladder up to squares that don't have a ladder finish, as long as you are on a ladder square. I know that doesn't make much sense, it didn't to us either.
We weren't able to find out whether the metal bridge to ladder squares made more sense during game play because whilst we could tap and access all the instruction and option screens, every time we hit 'Play' the app crashed and closed down.
We tried it in all languages - Edward now knows 'play' in French, German and Dutch - we closed down all other applications running in the background. We uninstalled and reinstalled too, but nothing made any difference.
So your guess is still as good as ours as to whether Jumbo iPieces Snakes and Ladders is fun to play and what on earth those metal ladders are really for!
The Jumbo iPieces games retail for £9.99 and are available from WHSmith Travel, The Entertainer and online at Amazon, Firebox and Play.com.
Edward has subsequently played Game of Goose with some of his little friends - the parents joined in too, as you can play with up to six players - and Edward's dad sent me these additional thoughts this morning.
"Having to throw again, if your original throw would mean landing on an occupied square, is cumbersome when you're playing with the maximum six people and game play gets predictable rather quickly, as the same squares simply repeat the same 'go back four spaces' or 'move forward three spaces' - I feel this could be mixed up and extended."
The name iPawn also raised a few amused eyebrows among the parents and most agreed they would probably buy the Jumbo iPieces games for travelling and when away on holiday, but not for general use at home.
There are two other iPieces games currently available too: Air Hockey and Fishing, which looks rather fun!
Pros, Cons and Final Score
I can't rate Snakes and Ladders, but if I'd paid £9.99 for it and discovered the app didn't work I'd have been very unhappy and would have had my money back by now. So this is purely for Game of Goose...
Pros: you'll never lose the die! Quick game play which is great for younger ones with shorter attention spans. A great travel game and for taking away on holiday; gentle, innocent game without bad guys, guns or shooting - hurrah!
Cons: The iPawn geese are only compatible with the Game of Goose (you can't use the same iPawns for different games), short game play which is not so good for older children who can get their teeth into longer games, gets a bit cumbersome with the maximum number of players.
Final Score: 7 out of 10
(You can find out about iPad 3 rumours here on our sister site, Mobot.net.)