As you may or may not know, we are a family of board game enthusiasts and frequently share reviews of games here on the blog. Recently we go sent a game to test which stood out for being a little bit different, and I am excited to share it with you today.
Disclosure: We were sent a free sample of The Color Monster game in return for an honest review. However, all views and opinions are our own.
The Color Monster game is based on a book of the same name, written and illustrated by Anna Llenas. The book features a monster who feels all mixed up and confused and doesn’t know why. His feelings are all jumbled up, just like his colours, and his friend – a little girl – tries to help him to separate and sort them out. The book has been beautifully translated in to a collaborative game that gets kids and grown-ups talking about *their* emotions. We’ve actually read this book at the library in the past, but you don’t need to be familiar with it to understand or enjoy the game.
What’s in the box? In the box, you will find a game board, a wooden Color Monster and a girl playing piece, a die, 5 coloured emotion counters, 8 cardboard ‘jars’, and two shelves for the jars. Before you play the game for the first time, you need to separate the jars and counters and put together the shelves. There were no instructions for the shelves, but it was fairly intuitive how they fitted together. Both the wooden playing pieces and the cardboard jars are nice and chunky, perfect for little hands.
To set the game up for play, place the game board in the middle and the place the jars on the shelves alongside the board, with the blank sides facing outwards. Finally, place the emotion counters on the corresponding colour spaces, and the monster and girl playing pieces on the pink starting space (which doesn’t have a counter).
When it is your turn, you roll the die and carry out the corresponding action. If you roll a 1 or a 2, you move the Color Monster playing piece forward one or two spaces. If you roll a spiral, you can move the Color Monster to any space you want. And if you roll the girl, you move the girl playing piece to wherever the Color Monster is.
So far, so good. But here’s what makes the game so different and special. Each of the colours represents an emotion. Yellow is happiness, green is calm, pink is love, black is fear, red is anger, and blue is sadness. When you move the monster on to a new coloured space, you have to share something that make you feel that emotion, e.g. an event, a memory, an object, or a moment in time. I was a bit unsure whether my boys would open up to this or whether they would think it’s silly, but they seemed to take it seriously, especially my youngest, who is just about to turn 5. Once we moved on too quickly with the game and he shouted “Wait! I haven’t shared my emotion yet!”
In the first couple of rounds, we started off with things like people who litter make us angry, or Brexit makes us angry. My youngest shared that mummy cuddling him makes him feel calm. And there was daddy, being the joker, who said “Playing the Color Monster Game with my family makes me happy.”
But as the game went on, we all started to dig a big deeper. Daddy shared how afraid he had been when the big cast iron radiator fell on our youngest a few weeks back (good Lord, that boy had a guardian angel looking over him!) Or when Oskar, our eldest, disappeared from a shopping mall age 2 (the longest and scariest ten minutes of my life!) Oskar himself shared that he felt sad when daddy went to Japan for work and he didn’t get to see him for a long time (he was away for 2.5 months). And our youngest said he felt happy when his brother plays with him, or when he feels angry he likes to be on his own so he can calm down.
As well as a tool to sharing and talking about emotions, there is also another game play element to the game. When the Color Monster lands on a space with a counter, you have to pick one of the jars on the shelf to see if it matches. If the colour on the back of the jar is a match, you can pop the counter inside and put it colour side up back on the shelf. The boys really loved doing this, and it’s great that the jar has an actual opening you can push the counter through.
If the colour of the counter and the jar don’t match, the counter goes back on the board and the jar goes back on the shelf blank side up. But if the back of the jar shows a mix of colours (i.e mixed emotions), it goes back on the shelf colour side up, the counter goes back on the board, and you also switch around two of the empty jars. There are three mixed colour jars in total, and the aim of the game is to try and help the Color Monster separate his emotions by matching up the five colour counters before all three mixed jars are revealed, otherwise the Color Monster is left feeling confused.
If during the game you land on a space that doesn’t have a counter left on it, you still need to share an emption but then you get to roll the die again. An extra little twist to the game, is the girl. She is the Color Monster’s friend, and any time she moves to the same space as him, or the Color Monster lands on the same space as her, you can turn one of the mixed colour jars back to blank. If there are no mixed colour jars showing, you can just have another turn. My boys worked out pretty quickly, that the best thing to do when rolling the spiral – which lets you choose where to move – is to move the monster on to the same space as the girl!
We loved this game on several levels. Firstly, the design of it is really lovely. It’s bright and colourful and beautifully illustrated; the playing pieces are nice and chunky and made from wood and cardboard, not plastic; and the boys really liked the action of pushing the emotion counters in to the jars. Secondly, it’s a great game to talk to your kids about feelings and emotions, and get them to open up. The game aspect feels less confrontational to them than asking them about their feelings directly. Thirdly, it’s a collaborative game, which means everyone is playing together, everyone wins or looses together. And, finally, there is also an element of memory training in it, as you have to remember where the different colours of jars are, especially when they get switched around.
The Color Monster game is recommended for ages 4+ for 2 to 5 players. It’s estimated to take around 20 minutes, which on average seems about right but be aware that it can take longer depending on your luck in matching colours to jars. The game is available to buy on Amazon.
Disclosure: We received a free sample game for the purposes of writing an honest review. However, all thoughts and opinions remain our own. This post contains an Amazon affiliate link. If you shop via this link I will receive a small percentage of the revenue, without any extra cost to you, which helps to keep this blog running. Thank you.