Skill games are weird; they are silly, whimsical, and often look more like toys than games. Thus, these days, I have learned that while you can make some educated guesses about a lot of games based upon the cover art and components, the same is not true for skill games. For example, look at Shake N’ Take. Who would have ever thought that a game with a plastic easter egg and alien dice would be fun for adults? I know I didn’t. So, when I saw all of the goofy toy pieces in Spotcha, I tried to reserve my opinion. but this is one time where the box and cover art was spot on. This is a children’s game.
Now don’t get me wrong, children’s games are great, as long as you have the right audience playing it. However, for a group of adults, this game is not going to be thrilling. My advice, leave this one for the kids to have fun with. But, as reviewers, we certainly did not want to shirk our duties, so it was to the DeLorean and a trip back to our childhoods.
Putting yourself in the mindset of an eight year old is hard, or at least it is for me. Do you remember what you were doing and thinking at eight? Heck, I’m lucky if I remember what I was doing and thinking a week ago! In trying to step back into our child like world views, two distinct ideas came to mind about this game: The pros for adults become the cons for children, and the pros for children were the cons for adults.
This game is about quick pattern recognition. At the beginning of a round, players toss out a handful of what I can only describe as “junk toys”, little plastic cars, boxes, play food, etc., then the round begins. One player flips over a card that shows four of the potential items on the table, as well as how they might have landed. If you believe that the picture of the item on the card matches the way the same item landed on the table, than you grab a colored flag token associated with that object. Correctly grabbing flags gets you points, incorrectly grabbing flags makes you lose you points.
These cards are played very quickly. Just a couple of seconds go by before all of the flags that match have been taken and it’s time to award points. Points are rewarded by taking the junk toy out of the center of the table and giving it to that player as a trophy. The ratio of “game play” to “evaluation” was maddening to me. We would all play for 2-3 seconds, and then spent the next minute or two evaluating pieces to see if people scored. This made the game play far too short to be considered satisfying. Con for adults!
I have younger brothers, I’ve seen them play many little kids games together. This style of game play perfectly mimics the kind of interaction they have together when they game. They like to get points continually, to stop and evaluate together how the game is going. Not to mention the quick game play is perfect for their attention spans. So, pro for the kids!
Evaluating if a player receives points is a bit more thought provoking of an exercise. The toy does not have to be laying exactly like what is on the card, but it must be laying on the same side as what is on the card. For instance, there is a guitar player toy, she is on her knees as if she is doing a slide on stage. It doesn’t matter if the guitarist is facing towards you, or away from you. What matters is whether she is on her knees (upright), or on her back, turned on her left side, or turned on her right side. Does that make sense? Can you get your head around that distinction? We, as adults, had to stop and talk about that distinction on more than one occasion, as people argued that pieces did not match. While our adult brains and logic skills managed to come to decisions about the correctness of the piece, this could prove to be very difficult for children; A.K.A., con for the kids. This more thought provoking idea made the game slightly more bearable for adults, because logic is interesting. So, pro for the parents.
As I said earlier, this game would be good for kids. It’s fast paced, simple, but requires some thought. It would be a great learning tool to teach their young minds about spacial relationships. But because of the more difficult time of judging if a piece is correct or not, this is a game that certainly needs a parent close at hand to play referee.