I was asked by Help! S-O-S for Parents to be part of a team to review Pajaggle, a new game for ages 3 up. To access all reviews, please visit Pajaggle: A Blogger Review. My review follows below.
Their web site describes it as “Pajaggle™ (pa-jag-gul). The game that thinks it’s a puzzle.” And at one level, that’s essentially all it is. But really it’s a lot more than that, and I thought it was a blast. I was asked to consider particularly whether I thought Pajaggle was appropriate for autistic children. On that point, I’d say “it depends”, with some explanation below. But first, let me answer “What the heck is Pajaggle?” in my own words, especially since it will help me explain how I think it would work with autistic children.
Pajaggle has 61 pieces that you place into their respective slots on the Pajaggle board. That’s really it in a nutshell. But it’s deceptively challenging. Many of the pieces look similar to each other, and the variations between them can be very subtle. The spaces on the board for the pieces to slot into are an exact fit. And I really mean ‘exact’. In many cases, you’ll think you found the correct piece, but you didn’t. It’s not unusual to try to stick a piece into a slot, figure out it’s the wrong one, and then it gets stuck (or ‘Pajiggled’ in game lingo). Thankfully, they provide a separate doohickey that serves to pop pieces out of slots with little fuss (not surprisingly called a ‘Pajiggler’).
Here’s where they kick the complexity up another notch. Some of the pieces have slots within them for another piece to fit into. So some pieces just by themselves don’t actually fit into any slot on the board. They fit within another piece, which then fits into a particular space on the Pajaggle board. When I told my wife that as we were filling in the board together the first time, she said, “Oh, [expletive deleted]. Seriously?” We both laughed.
If you want to time yourself, Pajaggle comes with a digital timer. The first couple of times I solved the board, it took me forever. I was glad I didn’t time myself as I didn’t need that mark against me that day. But you know you’re going to use the timer eventually because you can’t resist, and it’s essential to the competitive, multiplayer games.
Admittedly the sample size of autistic children I considered in thinking about this review is pretty small, but I did talk with a couple of teachers along with some parents and we couldn’t think of any autistic kids we knew under age 7 who would be able or willing to sit and solve an entire Pajaggle board on their own or even with help. That said, if you gave them a partially filled in board and had them fill in the rest, that would be an option for some of them.
Our J-Man (who is 6, by the way), would mostly just stare at the board not really knowing what he’s supposed to do with it, or he might just line up or spin the pieces. We’d need to figure out how to structure it, which is hard to do with that many pieces.
So, its 61 pieces seem like too many for most younger kids. Perhaps if there were versions of the board with half that many pieces, and those pieces differed from each other a bit more than they do now, I think they’d be on to something for the younger kids.
If I could sum up in one sentence which kids I do think would respond well to Pajaggle, it’d be this. If your child enjoys puzzles and has a good attention span for them, has strong recognitions of shapes, can detect subtle differences between similar objects, and can do puzzles of two or three dozen pieces or more, then Pajaggle seems like an obvious choice to me.
This is one of those games that both parents and kids can enjoy, too. I thought it was a blast. If you dislike visual puzzles, then you might not care for Pajaggle, but otherwise I think most people would find it fun. It’s quick enough to do – somewhere between a few and somewhat more than a few minutes – versus spending hours or days working a jigsaw puzzle. Think of it like a quick brain pick-me-up if you play on your own. The possibilities for fast-paced multiplayer games are plentiful. Not surprisingly, we’re not party people, but I can see this being a great game for get togethers.
If you know of a child who likes puzzles (especially if their parents do too!), then I think Pajaggle would make a great gift. At $30, it might be a little spendy for some, but it’s fun and the variety of games and activities you can do with it to me make it a good value. You can purchase Pajaggle on their web site at http://www.pajaggle.com.
Disclosure: I received this game for free for purposes of this review.