Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Forbidden Island

Forbidden Island

Fall 2010 Games
Ages: 10 & Up
Manufacturer: Gamewright
Price: $15.99

Forbidden Island requires two to four players to work together to keep an island from sinking before they can gather four sacred treasures and escape by helicopter to win. The game is stored in a well-designed, painted tin and contains all cards, tokens, playing pieces, and treasure figures used to play. On every turn the island sinks further, and players must use their three actions per turn to save sinking areas, move toward treasures, and assist fellow players. Many obstacles arise throughout the game. If the card for a flooded tile is turned over a second time (before the tile can be shored up), the tile sinks and is lost forever. If all tiles representing a specific treasure sink, or if the helicopter launch pad floods, the game ends. If a player's token is on a lost tile and there is no adjacent tile to swim, play also ends, as all must escape the island together. Ultimately, the dreaded water level meter rules the game. Every time someone draws a "water rise" card, the meter moves up one notch and more and more flood cards are revealed on each turn.

Our testers played Forbidden Island three times before winning. During this initiation period they learned the rules and some strategy, and they learned that there are endless conditions to encounter and no one formula to win the game. They became completely wrapped up in the game.

The cooperative play aspect of this game received mixed levels of appreciation and enjoyment with testers. With our testers, this variation reflected whether each player tended to be more competitive or more cooperative. For the former group, this game will help develop strategic teamwork skills and patience with other players.

Ellie and Don Homce   ©2010 Parents' Choice
Don and Ellie Homce are the parents of two sons. Ellie is a former chemistry and physical science teacher and trainer in the hazardous materials field. Currently a professional volunteer at local schools and a thrift shop, Ellie continues to pursue her interests in art. Don is a health and safety and environmental science professional who enjoys building and fixing things. He has been a Boy Scout Leader for the past ten years.

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