Personally, I think logic is a fairly vital skill for kids to learn. Even going beyond the obvious uses of logic in programming and other computer-related disciplines, a strong sense of logic helps in figuring out day-to-day problems. The trouble is that sometimes logic exercises can be presented in fairly dry or unrelatable situations. Pencil-and-paper exercises are fun for travel, but they can be daunting for anyone still learning how to order their thoughts.
This is where Cat Crimes, a logic game from ThinkFun, shines. It takes the concept of a whodunit and adds a more friendly (and, if you own felonious felines, relatable) face to solving a mystery.
The concept of the game is fairly simple. There are six possible cat suspects. When a certain crime occurred, such as the knocking over of a coffee cup or the unraveling of a ball of yarn, some or all of the cats, including the guilty party, were at specific locations around a rug. It is up to the player to use the clues provided to figure out which is the guilty party, along with which cat was where.
I’ve tried introducing other logic games to my daughter with varying success, but the cat element of this game caught her interest right away. The first couple puzzles required a bit of coaching as she caught onto the idea of the game, as she was brand new to this type of logic puzzle, but soon after she started flying through the challenges.
The game comes with a deck of 40 challenge cards, each of which contains a puzzle ranging in difficulty from Beginner to Expert. This is both good and bad. The four levels of challenges makes it accessible to a wider range of players, but it also means there are fewer challenges for each level. We ended up having to ration the cards appropriate to my daughter’s level, since there’s a bit of a jump in difficulty between the levels. As a first grader, she started struggling after a few cards of the Intermediate level. Meanwhile, I found the Expert-level cards to be wonderfully challenging. It’s nice to have a logic-type game that can be equally challenging to all levels of players. Other ThinkFun games, such as Roller Coaster Challenge (which, while fun, wasn’t terribly challenging to an adult) haven’t always scaled so effectively.
In addition to the cards, the game comes with a figure to represent each cat and a board representing the rug. The figures are fairly sturdy, but the fact that they’re double sided is the source of my only real complaint with the game. Many of the puzzles use clues indicating that one cat was to the right or left of another one—having the same image on both sides of the pieces can make it tricky to track which piece is to the right or left of the other when moving pieces to figure out a puzzle.
Ultimately, despite a few minor complaints, Cat Crimes is a great tool to tempt reluctant logic learners or squeamish would-be detectives into giving some light-hearted crime-solving a try while still being attractive to cat fans who love logic puzzles.