| Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Travel games

We pick the best travel games to try for your kids. Here are the top picks

1 Who’s Who Travelling Game: Who’s Who is a portable, less descript version of Guess Who (if we were to wager a guess, we’d say it’s licensing laws that led to the name change). This version makes a good travel companion partly because, once you put it together, there are no pieces to lose. It’s an easy enough game to understand (which is a plus, given it doesn’t come with directions): basically, each player chooses a character and both players, by posing deductive ‘yes ‘and ‘no’ questions, try to figure out who the other has picked. While the pictures are less cartoonish – and therefore a bit more dull – than the original, it’s a solid game that can easily fill up an hour or two before losing its novelty.
Available at Hamleys, The Dubai Mall (04 339 8889), Dhs29.

2 Magnetic Sodoku 3-in-1 Games: It’s easy to get nervous about this game. After all, Sodoku can get pretty complex. Is there really any way to make it suitable for kids? Well, the folks at goplay do a pretty good job of it. There’s an adult, nine-by-nine grid, and a children’s six-by-six grid that can either be played with numbers or little coloured tokens. With a little help from mum and dad who, using an included booklet, have to set up the puzzle, we reckon most kids could handle the Sodoku brain teasers, especially if they use the handy erasable pen that comes with the set for making notes. The game does have a couple of problems, however. For starters, the erasable pen runs out of ink pretty quickly (it didn’t last through a third puzzle for us). Also, the game has so many pieces, losing some is inevitable. Finally, it’s not for groups of kids. While it says it can handle three players, Sodoku remains a solitary venture.
Available at Toys R Us, Dubai Festival City (04 206 6552), Dhs59.

3 Magnetic Hangman: There’s a good chance you’re wondering, just as we did, why you need to buy hangman when you can play it for free using pen and paper. The answer: you don’t. This Hamley’s version comes with a set number of letters, which we imagine would prove irritating if you wanted to trounce your competition with a really long word. Amusingly, they’ve replaced the doomed prisoner (or whomever it is at the end of that rope) with a more kid-friendly smiling robot. Still, this alone doesn’t explain why you would need to pay money for this game.
Available at Hamleys, The Dubai Mall (04 339 8889), Dhs69.

4 Magnetic Snakes & Ladders: You can’t really go wrong with this classic. The premise is super simple: roll a dice, advance pieces, and either move up if you land on a ladder or backwards if you land on a snake. It’s not a particularly exciting game, but for young kids (though not so young that they can swallow the pieces), it could amuse for an hour or so. Maybe. It is small and quite compact, making it an easy product to pack (it could even fit in mum’s handbag). There are six game pieces, so large families can play together.
Available at Hamleys, The Dubai Mall (04 339 8889), Dhs69.

5 Magnetic football: With this one, you may think you’ve finally stumbled across a board game that can keep the boys interested. Alas, even solid football fans would lose patience with the nine-page instruction manual. The problem is that someone tried to make this mini-children’s game a little too close to life – there are six pieces, or ‘players’, per team, and each can pass, dribble or shoot. We got lost at the rules for penalty shots. Also, this product has so many bits that it’s very likely some will get lost. The one we played with had some defective pieces, too.
Available at Hamleys , The Dubai Mall (04 339 8889), Dhs69.

6 Magnetic basketball: For a kids’ travel game, this product is unbearably complicated. It beats the football game with a whopping 12 pages of instructions (by the time you’re halfway through reading them, your kids will have moved on to something else). There are also 19 pieces, including the spinner, so losing a piece is all but guaranteed. Like the magnetic football, the inventors of this product tried too hard to make it mimic physical basketball and it just doesn’t work, meaning it’s a pretty dull way to pass the time even for basketball fans.
Available at Toys R Us, Dubai Festival City (04 206 6552), Dhs39.

7 Join 4 Travelling Game: It’s hard to find fault with a game like Join 4 (basically a bootleg version of Connect Four). It’s got strategy, and enough entertainment value to last for hours. It’s even rumoured that Beyoncé got addicted to it, and used to perch in a corner of the VIP room to play it (if that doesn’t get the kids interested, we don’t know what will). However, this isn’t the most durable set, and it’s easy to imagine it breaking, or some pieces getting lost, after only a few games. Still, it’s not expensive, it’s portable, and it’s probably one of the more intellectually engaging games you can offer to your youngster.
Available at Hamleys, The Dubai Mall (04 339 8889), Dhs22.

By Karen Iley
Time Out Dubai,

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