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For a little while as I first started playing Coinx, I was thinking that the most difficult part of the game was pronouncing its name; then I double-checked the age range, saw it was for 5+ years and adjusted my expectations accordingly.

Coinx, by designer Guy Jeandel, with cute art by Vakki, is a straight-up puzzle game aimed primarily at younger kids. The big chunky L- and snake-shaped polyomino pieces are made of colourful and durable plastic, with a hole or two in each piece. (While this feature is actually part of the game play I guess it also doubles as a breathe-hole should a mouthy minor accidentally swallow a piece.)

Into the thick insert, you are tasked with inserting one of the 38 puzzles and placing the pieces so that all the critters show through the holes, with each coloured piece placed on a Coinx of the matching colour or a grey. What signifies this strongly as an introductory puzzler, is that the first sheet tells you where to place every piece like a video game walkthrough; a sensibly instructional start. As the puzzles progress, more pieces remain undrawn or greyed out on the puzzle sheet, gently increasing the cognitive demand. By the last sheets, all you've got to go on are the learned heuristics and some dedication.

As a grizzled old gamer of 50 years, I started being challenged by this around sheet 30 but, as I said, the game is not aimed at me. My 10-year old son started having to think and re-work his solutions around the halfway mark. This progression makes me think Happy Baobab has got the target age just about right.

Inevitable comparison must be made to Rush Hour (ThinkFun), which remains the archetype of this kind of repeatable puzzle with variable sheets and has a similar quantity of puzzles (plus expansions), but the age range starts at 8 years and the difficulty level ramps up quickly (there is also a Junior version aimed at 6+). Coinx feels like a much more deliberately rewarding pastime for younger puzzlers without being condescending.

And, to be honest, I'm still trying to solve puzzle 38...

(Review by David Fox)

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