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If you are at all familiar with any of the myriad of I Spy games, you could very well leap to the uninformed conclusion that Pictureka is yet another variation of this familiar and most definitely playworthy theme. Fortunately, you'd be at least partially wrong.

With Parker Bros. Pictureka, designer Arne Lauwers has brought us a what might be easily considered a whole new twist, or spin, or flip on the game.

The game comes with 9 boards, three decks of cards, a colored die, a numbered die, and a sand timer. Players begin the game by putting the 9 boards together in a 3x3 array, and the 3 decks of cards somewhere on the side of the boards. Each of the boards is scattered with illustrations many different cartoon figures, positioned in all possible directions.

Each deck of cards is a different color, and each a different kind of game.

If you pick a card from the "Mission" deck, you'll find the name of some object written on the card. You roll the number die. This determines how many of those objects you have to find on the 9-board array. You then turn the timer over and look, really, really hard. If you succeed, you get to keep that card.

The Outbid deck contains more general descriptions of objects ("Things that fly" "Head coverings"). Before you turn a card over, you and your partners bid for how many you think you'll be able to find during the time limit. The highest bidder then turns the card and the timer over, and engages in focused scrutiny, pointing to each object that she thinks meets the description on the card.

The "Find it First" deck contains actual images of things to look for. All players compete to be the first player to find an instance of the pictured object.

On the back of some of the cards you'll find three different kinds of arrows. One arrow directs you to switch any two cards in the array. Another to flip over any card. And the third to rotate any card. These make the challenge just new enough to refresh the interest and excitement of the game.

When playing as a family, it is remarkably easy to tailor the game to meet the abilities of any player, the 6 year old, and, even though the game is not specifically recommended for preschoolers, with a little help from an older sibling or informed parent, using one deck or two or all three, everyone can be included.

For a more immediate feel of the game, you can find a sample online.

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