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But when playing a board game - a few screams from dying parents makes it all the more fun.
The box of this board game reads : "Escape the Meteor Monster - The astronauts are racing to escape the alien monster". The idea is to be the first to reach the safety of the rocket ship to escape the doomed meteor before the monster awakes. The problem is - there is only room for one in the rocket ship - meaning you must leave your friends and family to their fate. More than that it's every astronaut for himself here, so if the opportunity arises to blast a family member off the board then by all means blast them.
WHAT'S IN THE BOX?
A small plastic meteor/ game board with molded in craters and a cute purple meteor monster laying directly beneath the rocket. There are two built in spinners and a built in pump to blast the rocket off. There are also 4 coloured plastic astronauts - one for each player - and a small foam rocket ship which actually flies quite well with one astronaut pushed inside.
This is a very simple game to play. My youngest has played this since age 2. No reading is required and only limited counting - up to 6. If a child is too young, a parent or older sibling can help them count. Ideally, 2 - 4 players should play this, but my children have played this now and then on their own, trying to get to the rocket before being blasted off by a puff of air - or volcanic gasses or just sending the rocket off over and over again.
To play the game - players take it in turn to place their astronaut in the first place and then spin the two spinners. The first will give a number from 1 -6. The player moves forward the required number of spaces. The second shows a colour. The player then moves the air pump to the colour shown and gives it a good smack. This will send air through some of the craters, and if anyone's marker happens to be on one of those spaces, it will be blown off the meteor, forcing them to start from the beginning again. The first player to safely reach the rocket moves the pointer on the pump to rocket, gives it an almighty whack and sends the rocket racing for the ceiling. The harder you hit - the higher it goes, but it really does work very well and is something like ELC stomp rockets, and we have in fact used ELC's rockets as well.
The rest of the family is left behind to be eaten by the meteor monster. Unfortunately the meteor monster is molded into the board - but we can still have a melodramatic death scene to add to the children's entertainment. Or to make it more fun - we add a monster puppet who eats the helpless astronauts left behind - complete with screaming and wailing. I suppose normal families likely leave this part of the game out - but we never claimed to be normal :)
For such a simple game, this is a lot of fun. The boys especially love blasting the rocket off. It is a fairly quick game to play, usually taking less than 15 minutes from start to finish, so playing a round or two of this doesn't take up too much time. Two games is usually the boys limit before choosing another game, but this is taken out frequently and still provides plenty of entertainment. The boys both say it is lots of fun and should get 5 stars. I am also giving this 5 stars. It is also sturdy and well made, and I like the fact that the spinners are built in - meaning one less part to lose. It does have some limited educational value for very young children in counting and colours, as well as understanding how air can force the rocket or playing pieces to fly upwards. For the most part though, it is just a fun way to spend time as a family. I do believe that board games are a great way to interact together, and lead to more conversation than a video game. I can't see adults playing this on their own but as a family game I think it is excellent. I recommend from ages 2 -7.
When I first suggested this - Amazon still had some in stock. I have just checked for current prices and they no longer have these at all. This is a very common game though, often seen at boot sales or charity shops, and Ebay has several sets for sale as well. Ours came from a charity shop. If you can find one, I certainly recommend this as a wonderful addition to a family game cupboard.