Disney Charades: review

RRP £12.99, available from Amazon

Game provided by the distributor

Charades. The age-old family game that everybody understands from birth. Seriously, can you remember anybody teaching you the rules? Do you remember how, where, when or why you learned how to play? Exactly. I rest my case.

One of the joys of charades, of course, is the fact that you need nothing more than a few people and at least two brain cells each in order to get a game going. Why would you want to buy a pack of bits and pieces in order to play? That’s like buying an instruction manual for a spoon. Or it would be, at least, if the makers of the charade accessories didn’t put any effort in. Disney Charades works hard to justify its existence.

It comes packaged in a nice little tin, for which it scores bonus points. The lid displays a slightly disturbing white silhouette family (presumably) enjoying the game within, as well as embossed and fully detailed designs of Sleeping Beauty, Sully, Buzz Lightyear, and Dory. It seems a little odd that Disney haven’t stuck any Frozen characters on the front, as the popularity of that movie shows no signs of abating and, yes, there are a few Frozen stars within. That’s the newest Disney film featured though, with no Inside Out sadly. Especially unfortunate as the anthropomorphised emotions seem custom made for a charades game.

On the base of the tin are concise instructions, the disturbing Aryan family (with one extra member who must have been in the silhouette toilet or something previously), and a list of contents squirrelled away at the bottom. So, guys and gals, it works like this: you get a total of 50 cards – 25 ‘I am’ cards, and 25 ‘who’ cards, each with two possibilities on. The ‘Who’ cards have the name of the relevant movie on the back, visible to those guessing while the actor does their thing. Just as well, because there are a few characters that most kids probably won’t recognise even when told directly. We all know, for example, who the likes of Elsa, The White Rabbit, Tigger, and Tinker Bell are. But Scuttle the seagull? Not so much.

You also get two dice and a one-minute hourglass style timer. When it’s your turn to act, you roll the dice (one landing on either square or circle, the other star or diamond) and take one of each card type. According to how the dice landed, you choose the character you’re acting out from the ‘Who’ card, and what they’re doing from the ‘I am’ card. So for example you might be acting out the fairy godmother being late, or Simba being at the beach. Simple.

Oh, I haven’t mentioned the instruction sheet included in the tin yet, have I? It’s worth having a look through, if only to see the way that the flaws in the game are acknowledged with the implication that this is somehow your fault. For example, while I might say “they should have included only extremely well-known characters”, the instruction sheet says “Before you play, go through all the cards to discover the characters and remember their names”. This is a family game they expect you to bloody revise for.

The instructions also dance around the inherent difficulties that the character selection introduces by saying that sounds are allowed “and so is humming”, just like they aren’t in regular charades. In addition, if it’s an animal character the instructions magnanimously allow you to score a point with the name of the animal if you don’t know the name of the character, and “Answers do not have to be word perfect”. Well, yeah, that’s how playing with young kids works. “I’m sorry little Timmy, I warned you in the last round when you used hideous grammar; you must use correct English when delivering your answer. In addition, your enunciation of ‘Ursula’ was atrocious. I am docking your team three points, and let that be a lesson to you”.

The actions, at least, are mostly easy to understand and mime for adults and children alike (each accompanied by a Disneyfied illustration to help). I should probably at this point again stress the fact that most characters on the cards are well known, even if some of them are arguably difficult to express through mime. Although it might seem glaringly obvious, it’s certainly true that the more your family devours everything Disney, the more enjoyment and ease of use you’ll get out of this. The character selection spans decades right back to their very first film (Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, fact fans), as well as a few of their less successful movies. If you and your kids have been raised on a Disney-heavy diet, however, this is a great way to get everybody away from the TV and into the joy of making fools of themselves.

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Written by Luke K

He plays lots of videogames, now and again stopping to write about them. He's the editor in chief at Critical Gamer, which fools him into thinking his life has some kind of value. He doesn't have a short temper. If you suggest otherwise, he will punch you in the face.

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