The set comes with one game board, instruction set, game notebook, and 16 wooden animals. The game notebook gives layout directions for 60 different puzzles, increasing in difficult as the puzzles are completed.
As heavy rains have flooded the area, the animals need help getting across the river safely. Moving animals off the board happens in one of two ways: Either animals are moved by matching the color to the piece moved previously, or matching to the animal species moved previously. Example:
If a blue lion was just moved off the board, then the next piece has to either be any animal that is blue, or a lion of any color.
The rules are similar to the card game, Uno, in which cards can be matched by number or color.
Players set up the board according to one of the 60 puzzles included in the game notebook. The notebook shows how to arrange the animal pieces in order to start the game. Starting at a very easy level, the puzzles will increase in their difficulty as the player progress through the notebook.
The puzzle starts with four animals already facing the edge of the river, putting them in the front row. Any of these four animals can be moved off the board first, followed by any animal that has no other animals in front of it. These animals can’t jump over each other like a game of checkers. The puzzle progress as more and more animals are taken off the board.
Completing these puzzles requires the ability to think ahead a few moves. Each animal taken off the board has to match the previous animal in either color or animal type, but also has to allow for another animal to be taken off after that.
Reviewers have given mostly very positive feedback, saying that not only do children enjoy playing this game, but that the adults also have fun trying to solve the puzzles.
A few have complained that the children became easily bored with the game, and that seems to be more about the child’s temperament than the game itself. Not all children, or adults, like solving puzzles.
This might not be an appropriate toy for a child who has a hard time focusing on a single goal for extended periods of time, or is rarely able to sit still.
As previously stated, this game can be enjoyed by a single player or several players working together. Many reviewers described how the whole family liked to tackle the higher level puzzles as a team. Some adults sat down and played a few rounds with the children after dinner as a kind of quiet-time before bed.
A few reviewers explained that having their child watch the adults struggle with a particularly difficult puzzle demonstrated to the child how to have patience and keep calm while working through frustration.
We go into more depth regarding the benefits of solving puzzles on our site, here:
- Wipe off with a damp cloth.
- Avoid spills on game board since it is made of thick cardboard.
For more in-depth information on how to clean this type of toy, please see our blog, The Cleaning Guide for Toys.
Parts and Pieces
Losing an animal may make the game difficult, and we have not found a place to buy replacement animals. However, painting an animal made of salt-dough may suffice.
If you know of a place where replacement parts can be purchased, please send us a link.
Though some reviewers were upset that the child they bought to the toy for showed no interest whatsoever, we believe that is a chance for any toy. Children have varying personalities, and some just do not enjoy sitting down to solve puzzles.
Due to the size of the wooded animals, this toy could be a choking hazard to children who still put objects into their mouth. Supervision should be given to children under the age of five.
We did note a few customers purchasing the game and finding they did not have the correct animal pieces. There are supposed to be four of each animal, and each of those is one of the four colors. For example, there are four lions: a blue lion, a green lion, a red lion, and a yellow lion.
If the correct pieces are not in the box when opened, the manufacturer, FatBrain Toy Co., will happily send what is needed. This has only been noted by a few of the people who purchased the toy, with the vast majority receiving exactly what is expected.
If a wooden animal is lost, the game may seem unplayable. However, we suggest finding a plastic animal to replace the lost piece, and painting it to match the color of the lost piece. If a plastic animal of the right type cannot be found, making an animal out of salt-dough or modeling clay may be a fun activity.