Monday, June 02, 2008

#100: Balloon Lagoon

Balloon Lagoon
  • designer: Forrest-Pruzan Creative
  • publisher: Cranium
  • date: 2004
  • BoardGameGeek rank/rating: 3833/5.3
  • age: 5+
  • # of players: 1-4
  • print status: in print
  • cost: $19.99 (often goes on sale at Target & Toys'R'Us)
And so the Kid Games 100 begins... with, oddly enough, a company that started out by producing one of the most overrated trivia games ever made - Cranium. (This is me, shuddering at the thought of having to play again.) But this is not about my hatred of Cranium, it's about my love of the games for kids they've released.

Balloon Lagoon is not going to knock your socks off - it doesn't contain any brilliant new mechanics or clever scoring systems. What it does contain is a whole lot of fun in a well-built package that entertains the heck out of kids.

Balloon Lagoon is essentially 4 carnival games with an aquatic amusement park theme:
  • a frog-flicking dexterity game
  • a word-creating puzzle using a fishing pole & magnetic letters
  • a pattern recognition game using a 4 spinner machine
  • and a game where you roll 6 dice attempting to get four of a kind
All of these games are timed by a music box/spinner in the shape of a carousel at the center of the board. (Adults: you will grow to hate the music. I promise.) However many elements of a game you finish (each game has a maximum of 4) is the number of balloon markers you get to stick into your vehicle - fill your vehicle & win. That's it.

The games were well-chosen... a smart 5 year old can play them at nearly the same skill level as the average adult, making this one a lot of fun for adults & kids together. As well, Cranium does their usual stellar job of creating a box for the game (alright, Jam Pack Jam is an exception to this rule) and all of the pieces fit snugly into place between games.

My boys go in waves (yes, inadvertent aquatic metaphor) about playing this one - it stays in the closet for 4-6 weeks & then comes out on a regular basis for 2-3 weeks. My oldest (who is almost 7) will occasionally pull it out & play with it on his own... so it has a pretty high "toy factor" as well as being an enjoyable game.

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