Saturday, 24 May 2014

GeoPuzzle Series

Whilst not strictly speaking a board, party or card game, this gem of a puzzle series is close enough and certainly warrants a mention!

It's a well-crafted, albeit child-like, pastime for those who love their geography.



Name: GeoPuzzle series (unknown date -- let me check. I believe the new edition is as of 2012)

Publisher: GeoToys

Players: Solo + more if you want help

Age: 4+

Time to play: Quite fast - 20 minutes? More or less depending on your knowledge and whether you use the map given on the front box.

Versions/Regions:

Note that there is a newer edition and an older one - you can easily tell which is which by the style of the "GeoPuzzle" logo. The newer editions are more updated as that they contain new countries as indicated in the below list. However, it probably won't hurt to purchase an old edition of GeoPuzzle for a region which hasn't had a new country in recent times as the puzzle is likely to be more or less the same.

New version of Africa & Middle East - has South Sudan
Notice that all the new puzzles have the kid-like scribbly style to the text.

[I will insert a picture of the new box with South Sudan]

From my understanding there appear to be 6 regions in total [known new countries in square brackets - perhaps borderlines have slightly changed since the old editions?]:

GeoPuzzle Europe [newer version contains Kosovo, which hasn't as such been fully recognised as a country at the time of writing]
GeoPuzzle Africa and Middle East [newer version has South Sudan]
GeoPuzzle Asia
GeoPuzzle United States and Canada
GeoPuzzle Latin America
GeoPuzzle World [Presumably this too is also updated to reflect the above changes]

You can buy all of these as one pack, but I'm not sure if it's worth it if you are only after a particular region (For me Africa and the Middle East seems to be good value)



Price Range (AUD): $18 to 50 including shipping. However, it depends on which version of the game you purchase. 

The older outdated editions cost between $4.95 to $30 whereas the newer editions cost between $35 to $50 including shipping. It thus may be worth it to purchase an older edition for a region where the countries in that region have largely stayed the same.

For example, the old edition of GeoPuzzle Latin America, apart from slight stylistic box and content alterations, should not be too different to the new version as Latin America hasn't had a new country in more than 50 years (I think!). The cheapest price for the old GeoPuzzle Latin America is currently $4.95 INCLUDING SHIPPING at the time of writing!!**

** NB, on the 29/5/2014 I received my copy and it wasn't an old version but a new one - what a pleasant surprise; I suspect the website displayed the wrong edition picture.

Availability:  Quite widely available online.

Genres
  • Kids
  • Geographic/Maps
  • Puzzle

Andre Lim's Rating and Brief Summary:

7.4+* out of 10. (Good to Great geographic puzzle - See my Rating Scale)

Being a puzzle, this doesn't really require an explanation and by reading this far and the points below, you'll have a good taste of what it's about. However I will say that the puzzle is well-made and (from my limited understanding of geography) accurately portrays the borderlines and shapes of each respective country and is well up-to-date with newly formed countries.

The key feature of this puzzle, and it's a very cool one at that, is that the majority of pieces (apart from the border pieces and those that are too small or inconveniently located for that to happen) are shaped like countries.

*July and September 2014: Revised down from 8.1+. This is still a great puzzle to do but the infuriating thing is that it is extremely difficult to put all the pieces together without them jutting up or protruding (especially when you do all the border pieces first and then you start fitting in the countries - particularly for the African and Middle East Map). Perhaps a flat surface would help, but it's still hard to do it - but I suppose that is the nature of the beast given that the pieces are cut to match the exact dimensions of each country (hence, some pieces are jagged and hard to put together evenly).


The Good:
  • Pieces shaped like countries is the biggest plus for me
  • Colourful maps and capital cities detailed
  • Real-scale dimensions (as far as I can tell - though I'm obviously no expert)
The Bad:
  • Boxes are probably too big given the contents
  • Not all geographical features and landmarks are stated
  • Some pieces are hard to put together because of how precisely shaped they are - hence this causes the whole puzzle, when completed, to sometimes "jut out" or become unbalanced in some areas
  • Some pieces are fragile because they are shaped thinly (this occurs where the countries are thin)

What makes this puzzle fun? 

Testing and increasing your knowledge of countries (in a quick manner) is a great feature of this game if you love geography or are a fan of cultural awareness in general.






- This concludes the basic overview of the game.
If you are interested in reading about the components & rules to the game, please read on -









Rules & Components (Photos courtesy of my mum, Joanne)




As you can see, the box is quite big.

The pieces are in fact shaped like countries - but as you can see below, some pieces are not strictly based on the borderlines of countries. For example some countries may be joined together to form one piece whilst one other piece may only feature half of a country (this is understandable as presumably this is to help fit the puzzle together - if all the small countries had their own shape it might be hard to piece everything together)

Note that Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo are all joined together to form one piece
Belgium is connected to Netherlands to form another piece

Once you assemble the edges you can begin to fit in each country piece by piece



And this is what the completed puzzle looks like:


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