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Cranium Big Brain Detective Game review — Find your inner child

Seek and find is a classic kids game that I have very fond memories of. Whether it was picking up the Highlights magazine at the dentist office, searching out the ever illusive Waldo, or devouring the latest iSpy book, I spent hours and hours pouring over these detailed works of art as a kid. Now as a parent, I get to do it all over again. Cranium Big Brain Detective is the latest version of this activity to capture my attention.

First off, the name of the game, Cranium Big Brain Detective, is both somewhat misleading and also accurately descriptive of what you are getting. The only thing this game shares with its older cousin Cranium is that it encourages the players to use their brain. Fortunately, the back of the box is pretty clear on what this game is all about, and that is being a Detective.

Found him

The first thing you need to do when playing this game is build the map/board/picture. It’s a giant piece or wacky artwork that assembles from four large puzzle pieces. After that, you select a card from either the regular or advanced difficulty, put on your detective hat, and get to searching.

There are some rules to make it into an actual game with a win/loss condition, but they are entirely unnecessary. If you choose to use them, it’s pretty simple. A sand timer provides a sense of pressure and urgency as the players frantically search the board. If someone finds the answer in time, the players are awarded a randomized token with a point value on the bottom. Then there is an opportunity to get an additional point token via a related bonus question or activity. The bonuses may be a question, something else to find, or even something you have to act out (some tie in to regular Cranium here). At the end of five rounds, if the players have collectively scored 20 or more points, they win. For my family, the fun is in the searching, and we just play until we don’t want to play anymore. It’s your game, do what you want.

The dreaded sand timer

The clues, or Big Brain Mysteries, have a range of complexities and an excellent amount of variety to keep the players engaged and thinking. Some are simple “find this thing” type cards. Others might show you a picture that is linked to the thing you need to find and come with an associated riddle or story hint. Regardless of the difficulty, all of the cards feature a small outline of the board that indicates which section of the board you need to be looking in, ranging between one to three sections of the twelve divided sections.

The board is absolutely covered in wacky and fun artwork that all links together to form a cluttered and chaotic world featuring unique and themed zones. There is an underwater road that exits through a whale’s mouth and then links up to a highway that heads into a volcano, which leads to a cloud world sitting in the middle of the steam rising from the volcano summit. This goes on and on. It’s a lot to take in and does an admirable job of hiding the mystery answers while providing distinct landmarks to ground the clues around key features. There are tons of fun details to discover as you search out the Big Brain Mysteries.

Clue and point tracker

The box tells you that this game is for 1-4 players and for ages 5+. While this game is intended for children, I would be lying if I said I didn’t have a great time playing it myself. Is it going to be a staple of your game nights? Probably not, but as a parent, I love finding kids games that aren’t an absolute chore to play with them. As far as player count goes, only you know your kids. I prefer to play this one on one with my kids. Trying to play it with my son (2) and daughter (4) at the same time just results in one laying on top of the board blocking the picture and fights ensuing. Maybe that’s a teachable moment, but one on one allows for more discussion of the cards and focused play. Older kids would likely have an easier time together or even on their own.

Lead Tabletop Editor | [email protected]

A life long video gamer, Mark caught the Tabletop itch in college and has been hooked ever since. Epic two player strategy games are his favorites but he enjoys pretty much everything on the tabletop, just no Werewolf please. When he gets a break from changing diapers and reading bedtime stories he can usually be found researching new games or day dreaming about maybe one day having time for a ttrpg. Some of Mark's favorite games are Star Wars: Rebellion, A Feast for Odin, and Nemesis.

90

Excellent

Cranium Big Brain Detective

Review Guidelines

Seek and find is as fun as it ever was. It’s a great activity and is fun while also doing great things for brain development. Oddly enough, it seems to be making a resurgence in the tabletop space. For getting kids around the table, or the living room floor, Cranium Big Brain Detective is an exceptional offering.

Mark Julian

Unless otherwise stated, the product in this article was provided for review purposes.

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