What is it:
Jumanji is a board game loosely based on the 1995 Robin Williams movie. The game has a simple board and a series of physical challenges, such as “cross the room while blindfolded” or “think of twenty animals you might see in the jungle” or “tell a story about escaping from a pack of rhinos”.
There are multiple versions of the game (including ‘Deluxe’, ‘Spin Master’, and ‘Flux’) that have been released over the years, each with slightly different rules.
There is a more detailed description of the Jumanji board game at fandom.com
Who is it for:
The game requires some reading, but younger players can rely on parents to help. The fun of the game is in the silly physical challenges, which appeal mostly to kids aged 5 to 9 or so. Some of the versions of the game are recommended for kids 8 and up, but it’s really mostly fun for younger kids.
What Kids Like:
The kids like the activities, which are often silly and unexpected and may end up with them getting wet, or being unable to speak, having to slither on the floor, or stacking physical objects before the time runs out.
A few times, the kids have gotten out the challenge cards and simply played with them, doing the challenges one after the other, bypassing the game board, the riddles, and other aspects of the game.
What Parents Like:
I like the uniqueness (uniquity?) of the game. I like that on a cold winter’s night, the kids can do something physical inside. It’s a very silly game, the point is about having fun, and not about winning. Whenever we’ve played, there has been a lot of laughs.
Jumanji is not exactly a collaborative game in that there is still, technically, a single winner, but it ultimately is collaborative in that players frequently work together to get through the game, and when one person finally wins, it feels like everyone has one.
What the Critics Think:
Board Game Geek gives it only 4.5 out of 10, which I strongly disagree with.
A review at Geeky Hobbies doesn’t give a numerical rating, but has a long and thorough review
Video reviews at:
Board Game Night,
Cardinal Toys, and
Board Game Museum
The game is only loosely based on the original movie, but it still expresses an implicit bit of a colonialistic attitude toward the ‘uncivilized’ areas in Africa, Southeast Asia, and South America. On one of the cards, the text refers to a monsoon as though it were a rainstorm (like a typhoon) rather than an annual season.
Who Made it / History:
Milton Bradley made the first Jumanji board game to coincide with the 1995 Robin Williams movie, which in turn was loosely based on a picture book from 1981. There have been many versions of the game release to coincide with an animated series and multiple recent movies with the same name (and vaguely similar plots).
The current editions of the game are no longer made by Milton Bradley, but by Cardinal Games and Spin Master.
Where Can I Get it:
Various versions of the new Jumanji board game are available at Amazon, Target, etc. You can find some older Milton Bradley sets (some with with nicer, wooden boards) at Etsy or eBay.