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Walk the Dogs

Walk the Dogs is probably one of the most beautiful, most playable, and most original family game (8 and up) on the market. How's that for an enthusiastic review?

The game consists of 63 plastic dogs (colorful, carefully detailed, and highly covetable by anyone older than 3) and a deck of cards. The dogs, as this thoroughly instructional video shows, are arranged in a spiral on the center of the table. The cards are cleverly illustrated to indicate how many dogs a player can take from either the front, the back, or both ends of the spiral. Players then take turns, hoping to collect dogs of the same breed. Collected dogs must be placed in back or front of the player's own doggy line. This complicates things just enough, because in order to win, you have to get five dogs of the same breed in a row.

There are also special cards that, true to the spirit of any good competitive game, can be used to increase your chances of winning, or decrease someone else's. One of my first game design mentors, Julie Cooper of the Ideal Toy Company, used to call this the "screw you factor." At least, that's the gist of what he called it.

At $32.00, the game is pricey, but you get a lot of dogs, and, far more importantly, a lot of play value. The one, uh, bone I had to pick was that the Doggy Bag (cute, huh?), though made of a thickly feltish cloth, is a little too small to hold all the dogs, or be put back in the box when full (slated for change when the current supply is exhausted).

In all likelihood, this is not the only game from this company (SimplyFun) to be getting a coveted Major FUN award. The company itself is uniquely notable, Major FUN-wise. Launched in January, 2005, SimplyFun is "a direct selling party plan company offering games and other entertainment play products... (whose)... products are sold in the comfort of your own home, exclusively through a SimplyFun Independent Consultant." SimplyFascinating.




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