No, this isn't a Strictly instalment of the game spin-offs from Joss Whedon's cult cancelled TV series. Firefly Dance by Josep M. Allue is a delightful memory game for children that's come all the way over from Korea.
The aim and mechanics are super-simple: find the bug which glows the colour you want, then remember where it is for the future. Each player takes it in turns to be the 'magical student', roll the custom six-sided die and dance around the circle to land on a coloured place. You then take your Harry Potter-style magic wand and zap/zing the firefly to light its bottom (containing a hidden LED). If you remembered correctly and get the right colour, you collect a gem. Just occasionally (ie: one chance in 6) you might roll to draw a card instead of move. The card will require you to find two or three fireflies in the correct order.
This memory game is a lot more difficult that you might expect. There is very little in the way of physical reference points on the board, and each time you find the correct firefly you must swap its position with another (and move up to 2/3/4 if drawing a card). The effect is that the playing field is pretty level for children and adults alike – those who concentrate, win!
The rules expect you to play until all 30 gems are collected, which stretches the game a little too long in my opinion. Also, the drawn cards allow a player to get ahead without a catch-up mechanic for other players, unless they also have luck of the die. These two things combine to sometimes feeling like long-loss for the unfortunate magician, but this is easily mitigated by some house-ruling around number of gems and when/who draws cards.
The big thing that sets this game apart from others is the product itself. The fireflies are large, cute and well made. The magic wand houses the AAA battery which lights the bugs and, as you might expect, my children loved playing with it. Not only did the game hold their attention long after mine was waning, but the wand and bugs fuelled their open play long after I’d packed the rest of the box away. It was almost as if this were an excellent toy with a game thrown in as a bonus.
In addition to this being a great physical product, the illustrations from ZAO are gorgeous. The whole thing is lovely to look at, with a colour pallet that somehow manages to be both subtle and standout. I also appreciated the gender neutrality of the ‘magical student’ character.
Bottom-line, this game is adorable. Children will love it. They will sit and wait their turn to wave the wand and light the firefly’s bum (who wouldn’t?) and they will get hours of fun from it after the game is finished. I give it 4 out 5 colourfully glowing bottoms!
(Review by Michael Harrowing)
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