Updated: Apr 12
Aimed squarely at younger children, Turtle Splash! is a possibly unique mix of dexterity and memory game from Gigamic and Lucky Duck Games. It's designed by Joel and Rafael Escalante, with charming arm by Maia Zeidan.
Each of the 2-4 players has their own playing board showing three rows of four cute animals. There's also a grid of face-down animal tiles. You're racing against other players to mark off the animals with your beachball markers by turning over the correct animal tiles but you need to turn over the tile for an animal that's the next one in one of your rows: hence the memory element of the game. In a simple but rather clever touch, the playing boards are unique in that tho' all feature the same animals they are in a different order on each board. This means that players aren't likely to all be looking for the same animals at the same time.
You aren't, however, just flipping face-down tiles and trying to memorise what's where. Turtle Splash! is also a dexterity game. There's a cardboard slide (which commendably comes pre-assembled so even quite young children can play this game straight out of the box) and the idea is that you have to flick the Turtle puck down the slide with the aim, ideally, of landing it in the indented area in the centre of the pool board. Do this and you get to turn over three of the face-down tiles. If you land your puck elsewhere in the pool you turn over two tiles. If your flick results in the puck not quite actually reaching the pool or if your puck overshoots the pool completely, you get to turn over just one tile.
Young children can often find it frustrating to take an unsuccessful turn in a game so the fact that you'll always turn over at least one tile delivers some positive reinforcement that helps keep them on board. There's consolation too if a player doesn't turn over any of the animal tiles they are looking for. In that eventuality, you can take a swimming ring token that can be handed back on your next turn for an extra tile pick.
Tho' the game is super simple, Turtle Splash! incorporates a built-in catch-up mechanic. If a player races ahead and completes a row then that automatically reduces the options they have for finding a successful match on their subsequent turns.
Pre-school and nursery children will especially love Turtle Splash! The dexterity element makes the game much more engaging than more traditional Pelmanism 'picking up doubles' games. And don't be surprised if you find older children and adults also sneaking a play of this entertaining flick & pick game.
As with other Gigamic titles, Turtle Splash! is distributed in the UK by Hachette Board Games.