Blue Orange Games For Preschool: Pass the Ball with Ollie, Hoot or Toot, and Where’s Squeaky?
|Blue Orange Games
|Preschool Games, Toys
|$15 MSRP each, give or take
Hello! Today we’re doing a “triple review” about three games in the same line, all of which are very simple products. These games each come in a small plastic box that houses an electronic anthropomorphic animal, which helps preschool age children play a game. My 5 year old is actually about to start kindergarten, but due to a variety of health issues and minor special needs, she’s a bit behind and at a good age for these products. She’s also got a sensory processing disorder, so I’ll discuss that some as well. I’ll give a score for each of these individually. Here we go!
We will start with the weakest of the bunch, which is Hoot or Toot. This is the one most like an “actual” board game, and includes a bunch of tokens. It is a similar idea to Memory and its many licensed variants. Thirty six face down tokens are laid out, and you shake the owl to make a noise and then try to find a token that corresponds to the noise. It either hoots once, hoots twice, toots once (hahahahaha….) or toots twice (HAHAHA…). My kids certainly loved hearing the fart sounds, but the actual game has two really big problems for this age.
First, 36 tokens is just way too many for my child to try and keep track of at this point. Furthermore, she cannot read yet. The “Hoot” and “Hoot Hoot” tokens have the same “radio/voice” icon on them, and the “Toot” and “Toot Toot” tokens have the same green fart gas on them. I do not understand why the “Hoot Hoot” and “Toot Toot” tokens don’t have two icons each; this would make the game much, much more playable for young children. Amongst her many health issues, Hannah really has trouble with anger and patience, but especially when she’s confused and thought she was doing something correctly. So, telling her “nope, you’re wrong; that’s not the right token” when she thinks it is, makes the game horrible for everyone. I usually just let her have the token if it’s the right type, but at that point, why not have only two sounds and 18 tokens?
The second issue is that you are supposed to “shake” the owl so that it makes noise. However, my daughter’s sensory processing disorder is the sensory-seeking kind; she does everything too heavily and harshly, can’t handle cards without crushing them, doesn’t think pinching hurts, constantly seeks pressure, etc. So anytime she takes the owl, it immediately makes a noise, which makes it more complicated than it should be to figure out how to take turns (something she also is still learning to handle). Even when I hand it over myself, it occasionally makes noise when I don’t want it to yet. So, I’m giving this one a 4/10; I would actively avoid it with younger kids, and older kids will want to play something more interesting by the time they could play this with zero issues.
Next up is Pass the Ball with Ollie, which is exactly what it sounds like. Ollie doesn’t do anything other than play a song that randomly ends; the players are supposed to play “hot potato” with the inflatable ball during the song and when it ends, whoever has the ball is “out”; you play until someone is the last one standing.
This one worked much better, since the activity is pretty easy to understand. At first, my daughter really struggled with the idea of being “out,” particularly since she’s already impatient just to have a turn. However, as an activity just with dad, it worked really well, since there was no downtime for her. She also really hates losing in games or even dying in a video game, but she was eventually able to grasp that she loses if she has the ball, without getting upset. So it was a very positive experience for us in that regard. It also just works well as a toy; even my 18-month-old likes to hold it and dance; and they end up playing the “freeze dance” game with it. You may notice I’m skipping Freeze Dance with Chilly, another toy by Blue Orange; I don’t see why you would need it when you can do the same with Ollie, although the end of Ollie’s music is pretty predictable. I also wish the inflatable ball had a way to be stored with Ollie himself without having to deflate it, but oh well. Technically, you can use any ball laying around the house.
I’m giving this one a 6/10; it accomplishes what it sets out to do and has helped her grow a bit in game-playing, and she enjoys it. We may even take it to occupational therapy to work on playing with peers and getting used to being “out”.
My daughter loves hide-and-seek, or rather loves the idea of it. She really struggles to actually stay hidden, or to take turns hiding and seeking. Where’s Squeaky? is a hide-and-seek toy; you hide Squeaky instead of a person. When you hide it, you push a button, and over time he gives louder and louder hints about where he is. He also plays a happy jingle when you push the button again after finding him. This has been a huge hit in our house, and helped us work on taking turns and getting upset about winning or losing (“everyone wins” when the seeker finds what was hidden, you know).
I do still have two complaints about Where’s Squeaky?. For some really, really dumb reason, every time you want to hide him again, you have to put him back in his box, and he has to be facing the right way. This makes the process much more complicated than necessary, and for a child that struggles with directions and patience, it took us a while to figure this out. A smaller complaint is that Squeaky is just completely unintelligible. It sounds like he’s talking through a tin can. “Hide me!” is about the only thing I can actually understand, and the fact that music plays when he’s found. But trying to confirm we did the box reset thing correctly each time was even more annoying because we couldn’t actually understand what he was saying. Despite these complaints, Where’s Squeaky? gets a 7/10; she absolutely loves playing with it, and more importantly, I don’t have to try and hide my giant body in the tiny pantry anymore.
The Bottom Line
Where's Squeaky? and Pass the Ball with Ollie are worth it; you can pass on Hoot or Toot.