ToysBulletin.com reviews a new release in the “I Spy” series of games.
“I Spy-Spooky Mansion” is a game from the Briarpatch division of University Games. It is part of their Play’n Learn System, with this game emphasizing Literacy, Coordination and Social Skills. The object of the game is for players to move around the Spooky Mansion spotting unusual objects, allowing them to pick up valuable keys and quickly exit the Spooky Mansion before their opponents.
The game contents include 20 Picture cards, 80 Word cards, 18 Key tokens, 4 Player pieces, 4 Mansion maps, 1 Die, 1-15 second Sand timer and a 3D game board that is used in conjunction with the game box. The game is intended for 2-4 players.
To set things up, the game board is located on the inside of the game box, and covers two-floors and 9 rooms in the Spooky Mansion. Each player selects a different colored Player piece and places it on the start space just inside the entry door on the game board. In addition, each player receives a Mansion Map that highlights all 9 rooms in the Spooky Mansion, and will be used to keep track of any keys collected during game play. Two keys are placed in every room in the Spooky Mansion, and all 80 of the Word cards are shuffled and placed face down near the game board. Most importantly, the 20 Picture cards are arranged face up on the table, so that each player can easily see them all throughout the game.
Players will alternate turns rolling the die and moving around the house from room to room. Each time they land in a room with a key, they have an opportunity to claim a key and place it on their Mansion map. But, in order to grab a key, a player must first take a card from the Word card pile. There is a different, somewhat mysterious image, on each Word card. The player must quickly look at the image, turn over the Sand timer and find that exact image somewhere among the 20 Picture cards spread out on the table. If the player succeeds, he claims the key and puts it on the corresponding room shown on his Mansion map. If he cannot find the image, he gets no key and the next player takes his turn. The game continues until one player collects 5 keys from any of the rooms and moves his Player piece back to the start space and out the door. That player is immediately declared the winner.
It is not as easy as it seems to find the matching images on the Picture cards, especially in only 15 seconds. In fact, for beginners or younger players, the rules suggest turning the Sand timer over a second time, allowing 30 seconds to find a match. Players are also encouraged to study the Picture cards even when it is not their turn. Try to find various objects and memorize the locations based on color or size, as this will help find the matched images faster when it is your turn. Each Word card shows both the image (picture of object) and the word to describe it. Thus, there is no need to be able to read to play “I Spy-Spooky Mansion,” but the game is certain to improve a young child’s language skills.
All kids seem to like scary things these days, so the setting of this game at a Spooky Mansion is very appealing. In fact, the images used in the game, although mostly common things, are all shown as a bit dark and unusual. The Toys Bulletin staff found “I Spy-Spooky Mansion” to be an exciting challenging game, and a perfect fit for those 5 years old and up. A typical game was generally completed in 30 minutes or so.
“I Spy-Spooky Mansion” retails for $21.99 and can be purchase on-line at Amazon.com.