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Over the years, I've developed quite a poor opinion of Hasbro's range of 'Elefun' branded pre-school games, with most proving to be big on hype and low on performance. My expectations of this Hasbro 'Monkey Dunk' board game were pretty low when my kids opened this last Christmas morning. Sadly, despite expecting this game to be pretty poor, even I was surprised by just how bad this game actually is.
First, the good points. (This won't take long, believe me.) The game doesn't require any batteries and the set up needed for game play is minimal. The game also cleverly uses the base of the box itself to form the set for the game, with four plastic cups being slotted inside the bottom to form the landing area. This appears to be the only aspect of the game that has been well thought out, however. The box itself is reasonably sturdy and despite including quite a few plastic and card playing pieces altogether, they are easy to store away safely between uses. Sadly, uses of the game are likely to be few and far between, which takes me neatly to the bad points.
'Monkey Dunk' is, essentially, an over-complicated take on the classic Tiddly Winks game. Whilst Tiddly Wink may not be the most exciting of games, it must be pretty difficult to mess up. Somehow, however, Hasbro have managed to mess up the concept entirely. Instead of simple jumping discs, the game includes differently coloured plastic flattened monkeys, featuring a little lip to press and make them jump into position. Unfortunately, it is pretty impossible to make the monkeys jump high and far enough for them to physically reach the box, let alone fall into one of the four pots which is, give or take a few added extras, the point of the game. This is not difficult in a 'too tricky for the target age group' kind of way or in a 'takes a lot of practice' way - it is just impossible to get the monkeys to land in the box or the pots, even for adults determined not to be beaten by a game supposedly for children aged from four upwards!
There are a few additional elements designed to make the game more exciting but, in all honesty, given the fundamental flaw in the basic design of the game, it's pretty irrelevant. The rather weak 'Elefun' theme is reinforced with the inclusion of an Elefun designed timer which sits in one of the pots. This is supposed to jump up once it reaches the end of its time and cause the monkey tiddly winks to bounce around and end up in different pots. The reality is that the timer makes a rather feeble little bouncing motion that wouldn't move anything at all. (Although this is a pretty moot point given that there there are unlikely to be any monkeys in the box anyway.)
The other (unnecessary) element is that each player is supposed to count up how many monkeys they have managed to get inside any of the four pots and award themselves a banana for each monkey. This added step just seems totally pointless to me but, again, given the flawed nature of the entire game it's really immaterial as you're unlikely to reach that point of the game.
In all, I really can't recommend this game as it just doesn't work. I don't think it would offer much ongoing entertainment even if it did work. I'm reluctant to say that this is one of the worst children's game I've ever come across - just in case I tempt fate this Christmas- but it is. I thought Elefun was pretty poor but this makes Elefun look, well, fun.
Monkey Dunk is currently available for 'just' £7.49 on Amazon, although I've noticed it selling for as little as £5 at times. At any price, I would struggle to see any value in buying this. If this is on your child's Christmas wish list please scratch it off!