SNAP Review – Cupcake Academy: Are you the Star Baker?

Cupcake Academy
Cupcake Academy

Game

Cupcake Academy is a speedy cooperative puzzle game for 2-4 players. It was designed by Erwan Morin and it’s published by Blue Orange Games. It’s best for kids ages 8 and up.

Cupcake Academy works like a cooperative Towers of Hanoi logic puzzle where you and your companions are challenged to match the pictures on a stack of puzzle cards with your cupcake tins as fast as possible.

Listen to our five-minute SNAP review, or read on below.

Blue, pink, and green Cupcake Academy assignment cards
Assignment cards for each player combination are color-coded.

Art

There’s not a lot of art in the game beyond the puzzle pictures you’re trying to match. The pictures on the cards are clear and easy to understand. The cupcake tins themselves are colorful and beg to be handled.

This is good for most kids but might be a little troublesome for anyone who has trouble distinguishing colors. With five different sizes of cupcake cup, the size differences aren’t always obvious on the cards.

No textures were used on the cards or the tins which might have made it a little easier. They’re a slick, hard plastic, so it’s not always easy to pick them up!

Hand lifting a green cupcake liner

Mechanics

All players work together as a team to organize the cupcake cups in front of them to match the current card. The cups stay face-down. A player can only pick up one cup at a time, and can never place a smaller cup on top of a larger one. There is one “shared plate” card that any player can use to rest a cupcake cup (or put there for another player to take).

The goal is to get through all the cards in the stack before the time runs out.

The basic game requires only that each player has the correct colors showing. For an Expert Pastry Chef, players try to match the positions pictured for each cup too!

Still not enough of a challenge? Try the achievement checklist to track just how many assignment cards you can finish in the allotted time, to get a bronze, silver, gold, or Star Baker award. Then try using only your non-dominant hand. Or see if you can complete the assignments without speaking!

Cupcake Academy achievement card
Track your achievements at 2, 3, and 4 players

Expectations

Like many math & computer nerds, we’re fans of the Towers of Hanoi puzzle, which certainly is one of the inspirations for Cupcake Academy. We hoped that the brightly colored cupcakes and teamwork would lure our children in to play the game. (Especially Claire, age 12, who is very interested in food and baking themes.)

Surprises

Of all the Blue Orange games that we’ve played, Cupcake Academy feels the most like a successor to Dr. Eureka, even though it is cooperative and is not really a dexterity game. Like Dr. Eureka, you’re stacking pieces in order to make specific patterns. But since the larger cups fully cover the smaller ones, you can’t see what you’ve already stacked – you’ll need to remember what’s hiding under each cup.

Hectic at More Players

At two players, Cupcake Academy was pretty much as we expected – a cooperative puzzle, that involved some trading back and forth using the shared plate. But at three players, things got a bit more hectic; and at four, there was so much happening that the adults could no longer (unintentionally) “quarterback” the game. We couldn’t tell the kids what to do because no one person could keep track of it all.

three player game. Hand lifting a green cupcake liner off the shared plate in the middle
A three player game

A Learning Experience

It was tough for our kids to balance the need to be assertive (“no, I need that cup over here!”) while collaborating towards a common goal. It was also very difficult for our kids to stop focusing on their own personal puzzle long enough to realize their pieces might affect someone else. But when they could do both, it was very rewarding.

We found playing Cupcake Academy helped our kids realize that there are things they can control, and things they can’t.

We agree with the recommended age range of 8+, and would not recommend playing with younger kids. Mistakes and misunderstandings are going to happen, but younger kids will not be able to recover quickly and keep the game going. For our 6 year old, it led to a lot of frustration because he simply could not understand what to do, and the other players are not allowed to do it for him. It was hard to communicate quickly, and this led to additional frustration.

Puzzles for All

Our older kids didn’t take to Cupcake Academy right away, but once they started to see how the patterns worked, they were ready to try again. Ultimately our oldest didn’t love the game, but we think that’s because she is much more into art and music than puzzles. Our burgeoning programmer (age 9), on the other hand, definitely enjoyed himself.

The sad thing about Cupcake Academy is – there’s no cake!

Claire

Find Cupcake Academy on Amazon for about $20, or ask for it at your local toy & game store.

Cupcake Academy

The Family Gamers received a copy of Cupcake Academy from Blue Orange Games for this review.

This post contains Amazon affiliate links, which do not change your price, but help support The Family Gamers.

SNAP review music is Avalanche, provided courtesy of You Bred Raptors?

Cupcake Academy
  • Cupcake Tins
3

Summary

Age Range: 8+

Number of Players: 2-4

Playtime: 10 minutes

2 comments

  • Michael Rosner

    Regarding the issue of larger cups completely covering smaller ones: would it otherwise change the game mechanics if you always put a smaller cup on a larger one? More true to Towers of Hanoi style.

    • Andrew Smith

      This is an interesting idea. I think you might end up with balancing issues since they aren’t designed to stand on top of each other, but it’s certainly worth a try!

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