When you go into your local big box store and walk over to the tabletop game section, the options have improved dramatically in the past few years. Big box retailers have awakened to the booming tabletop industry and stepped up their offerings in a big way. While you won’t find quite the selection that you would at a dedicated LGS, there are decent options now. However, the same can’t be said for kids games, especially when it comes to very young kids. You will be stuck choosing between the same drab memory match game over and over again, Candy Land (every parent’s FAVORITE game) or the one where a literal plastic turd shoots out of a tiny toilet. In steps HABA. You won’t find their games at your local Walmart but peruse their website and you will find beautifully made games for kids of all ages with smart designs and quality wooden pieces. Check out some of our other reviews on their catalog, but this will focus on Forest Friends, a game with a charming woodland creature theme, and appropriate for kids as young as two years old.
If you’re reading this and made it this far, then I think it is safe to assume that you have a kid around the age of two and want to hear more. After that introduction I am sure you are expecting me to describe an amazing game, but surprise, it’s not really even a game. If this is your first foray into gaming with toddlers, then welcome, but also you need to temper your expectations. While Forest Friends doesn’t qualify as a “game” by my definition, it is a great activity that will introduce your kid(s) to some early gaming concepts and let them practice all those things two year olds are supposed to be learning anyway.
To set up Forest Friends, you build a 3D forest using the game’s box and some additional forest printed walls. You are left with a forest covered cube that looks like it is straight out of Bambi. The forest cube has various holes in the sides and the top. The top holes let in light to the internal compartments and the side holes are what make up the game. Kids will take turns choosing an animal to search for and look through the holes in the box to try and find that animal inside the forest, remembering which one they are looking for and where they have already looked. There are eight animals to search for and eight holes in the forest. That’s it, that’s the game. Remember, it is for two year olds. If that all sounds horribly boring to you, don’t be too turned off by it. The kids can pretty much play it themselves after a game or two, or if you are facilitating it, it plays fast. Add in some counting, animal recognition, or animal noises and your kid will practically be graduating the 1st grade.
Somebody over at HABA must have a two year old because the pieces for this game are all either wonderfully chunky wood or thick cardboard. You don’t have to worry about bent cards or pieces breaking when dropped on the floor. The artwork is charming and clean and it is all contained in an appropriately sized box.
If you want to introduce your small children to some early gaming concepts, then Forest Friends is a good choice. It’s simple, fast, and packs away nicely. While it won’t maintain a long term place in your game collection, there are not a lot of good options out there for this age group, and I think this is a winner. Don’t worry, you’ll have your kids playing Twilight Imperium with you before you know it.
- Beautiful components
- Small box
- Still pretty boring for the accompanying adult
- Kids will outgrow it fairly quickly