Match Madness: Parallel Puzzling for All Ages
Playing puzzle games with children can be frustrating. If it’s mildly challenging for me, it may be impossible for my 7-year-old; but if it’s the right level for him, it’s far too easy for me. I don’t want to hold back: I want to beat my children fair and square. What to do? Match Madness gives us a possible solution.
Match Madness is an abstract puzzle game spanning multiple difficulty levels. It was designed by Jeppe Norsker and published by FoxMind Games.
The core gameplay of Match Madness is simple. Arrange your five blocks to match the design pictured on a card. Be the first one to successfully make the pattern, and you win the card. Race against other players to collect the most cards.
The blocks are reminiscent of dominoes, with two areas for different colors. Each block contains 4 different combinations, one for each long face. The blocks are a little under three inches long and a little over one inch in width and depth. (The two short faces show a number from 1-5. Players need one of each number to be able to complete the puzzles.)
The pattern cards come in five difficulty levels, allowing for variation in gameplay. You could all compete to complete the top card of a single stack or give each player their own stack to work from. Our favorite variation is “Total Madness”: multiple stacks available simultaneously, each showing a different difficulty level. Each player chooses secretly which puzzle to attempt, and points are awarded for complete puzzles based on difficulty.
There’s something undeniably satisfying about a physical puzzle. Moving the pieces around in your hands and looking at them from different angles is different than rotating them on a screen. The blocks for Match Madness are lightweight plastic, but the colors are vibrant and inviting. We constantly pick them up and turn them around in our hands to see all the patterns.
We loved being able to customize the difficulty level of the game. The hard puzzles are quite challenging: they have exactly one solution, and you must get every block in the perfectly correct orientation (many blocks have similar sides). The easy puzzles are certainly much easier, but still very challenging for my seven-year-old.
We used these difficulty levels to achieve a certain level of balance across players of different ages. The adults would race to complete the more difficult puzzles while the kids would race to complete the easier ones.
If the speed and competition factor get you frustrated, Match Madness can also be played as a satisfying solo puzzle.
Match Madness is the most universally approachable puzzle game we’ve ever played. We’re always looking for games that allow adults and kids to play together, and Match Madness hits the target perfectly because of the multiple difficulty levels.
Our only issue is that once an adult has played with the blocks for 20 minutes or so, they begin to intuit how the puzzles work, putting them at a distinct advantage. Our best solution for this was to put the game away until another day.
Match Madness has four complete sets of blocks, which allows for four player simultaneous play. Because of the large block size and the box containing twenty of them, it isn’t a small game.
The Family Gamers received a promotional copy of Match Madness for review from FoxMind Games.
Age Range: 7+
Number of Players: 1-4
Playtime: 20 minutes (or less)