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Douzanimo is everything you would expect from Djeco - a beautifully illustrated game pitched for young children. The box is inviting and illustrated with some of the animals you have to find...tho' frustrating that it doesn't show all 12 from the game and the game’s title (French douze geddit?).

Designed by Sébastien Decad and advertised as a cooperative hide-and-seek game, Douzanimo is actually best described as an elaborate version of a Memory/Pelmanism game, already familiar to anyone with young children. It has simple instructions that no adult can fail to follow within minutes, and helpful illustrations to allow set up to be swift enough to be done in front of children without complaint or to be carried out independently by older children. Instead of having to put up with horribly themed Memory cards (a certain Paw Patrol set sticks in the memory for my household), this set calms the eyes and the animals' heads appeal with their ‘peek-a-boo’ style to young and older children alike. Kudos here to artist Kate McLelland.

The basic premise is akin to Memory: turn over two animal head parts that match the card you are on, or turn them back over. You can cooperatively remember cards for each other and you take turns trying to reveal the correct cards. The key difference between this game and playing usual memory pairs is that you already have the central piece of your animal showing. It functions as an incentive to find the correct animal by revealing two further cards rather than any pairs, and you have markers moving around a circle to tell you which animal to find. These also act as a timer, with four circuits around the cards making the game end. This makes the game a little more challenging, as you have to find specific rather than random pairs, and it makes Douzanimo a great follow-on game from traditional Memory as it introduces timing and cooperative elements.

Douzanimo then is a great gateway game for when you don’t know what to play next after Memory and Snap - bridging a gap between toddler games and children’s games that involve more rules.

Advertised as for 5-10 year olds, I would agree that the memory element could certainly challenge these ages. However, given that the game can be simplified by removing some animals, and can be played with the cooperation of an adult, and many toddlers have already had enough of simple Memory by age 4, I suspect it would be best pitched at 4-8 year olds. A kind 10-year-old could enjoy it with a younger sibling but I suspect anyone already into board games enough to be reading this review would have far loftier expectations for 10 year olds, as they hope that by then they'd be playing games an adult will enjoy too!

Douzanimo is simple and lovely so I hesitate to criticise something that sits in a niche I love: a gentle entry to board gaming beyond toddler games with just one key element to remember. However, the box is padded out with card so it is larger than it needs to be (and games for younger children are so much better if they are small to easily pack away and travel with!). The turn markers are animals but could easily have numbers on the reverse too to help get them in the same order each time (so that you don’t get told you are wrong by your toddler) and could also help introduce numbers to the very youngest. And pitching of the game as cooperative hide-and-seek was a little misleading. However, that said, Douzanimo is a game I now covet as it will inevitably fill a gap in a toddler/child’s board game collection without being another Orchard Toys vivid cartoony garish affair. It is lovely to see a simple game elevated a tad and, while not exactly revolutionary, it is a welcome addition to the ever increasing array of games out there to introduce children to the hobby.

(Review by Nicola Bridge)

#Douzanimo #memorygame #Memory #childrensgame #animals #Djeco #Pelmanism

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