Friday, April 03, 2015

Review: Madzzle Mysteries of the Amazon

Have you seen the new Madrat games in the toyshops? Rahul has been gifted two in the last six months, one of which went over his head and another, the Ultimate Tic Tac Toe, which he quite enjoyed even though I strongly suspect he and I fudged the rules quite a bit. ;) I was intrigued by the company's approach to board games, because it's been quite some years since I found games that weren't just trying to capitalise on old favourites. Well, you can say the Tic Tac Toe does just that, but trying playing by the game's actual rules and then we'll discuss it... Anyway, so I was intrigued enough to say yes when the company approached me to try out one of their newest games: Mysteries of the Amazon from the Madzzle series.

Madzzles, going by this game, are based on jigsaw puzzles which you solve to be able to start a game based on the puzzle itself. Confused? I was, a little, but it's actually great fun.

This is what reached us. A game in a handy-dandy tube, which is a vast improvement over the unwieldy boxes of the other two games that we already had.

These don't come cheap. This particular Madzzle, for instance, is priced at Rs 750.

It's classified as being suitable for kids in the 8-12 years category but I confess Rahul and I laughed ourselves silly playing it. We shouted so loud we actually frightened poor Puchke.

See the back here. You can click on the photo to see a larger, clearer image.

At this point Rahul was already hopping up and down in excitement.

The tube opened to reveal a rolled up mat and another, narrower, tube within.

See the excitement? I wasn't allowed to do the opening!

The second tube held a 120-piece jigsaw puzzle -- they claim each piece is unique and fits without a gap -- a deck of data cards in a bag, a reference picture for the puzzle and a pamphlet with the rules of play.

Even better, inside the lid of the smaller tube was a small packet of marigold seeds, Madrat's attempt to give back to the environment.

I appreciated these little touches, as I did the playfulness of the whole package, the direct yet non-condescending communication with the child.

The puzzle mat is another interesting innovation though I don't know that I would call it a roaring success. The idea is to have a pliable surface on which the puzzle can be pieced together and stored. One should be able to roll the puzzle up in the mat and it stays safely held in place with the magnetic strip on the edge of the mat. I tried it a few times and the puzzle fell apart sometimes as I rolled and sometimes as I opened the mat up. It didn't fall completely apart though, just partially, so piecing it back together was rather less work than starting again from scratch.

Here is a look at the entire game: the black puzzle mat, the smaller tube container, the puzzle pieces and their reference image and the deck of cards with their little green bag.

Now here's the thing that we couldn't photograph -- the puzzle glows in the dark! If you piece it together and ensure it gets some strong light (artificial light suffices) and then turn all the lights off, close the curtains and catch the baby before he tries to taste the pieces, you will be rewarded with blinking eyes in the darkness of an Amazonian rainforest. That was great fun, though we had all expected it to lead to something more than just the glow in the dark experience. We were a little crestfallen to find that is all there was to it, but I have to say, it was pretty cool even then.

The cards allow different plays once the puzzle is ready. The most basic, hunting objects in the densely packed picture, led to a riotous hour in our home, and there are further variations as players hunt or challenge each other based on creature specifications instead of just names.

Our verdict? We loved it. The price would have made me pause before buying but having tasted one Madzzle, I would rather buy this for a child than overpriced movie merchandise. Rahul, an eight year old who hasn't been interested in jigsaws in many years, commented that this was "the best game ever, can we play it again?" 'Nuff said?

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