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Pentago CE by MINDTWISTER USAName: Pentago CE
Age: 6 and up
Price: $19.95
Category: Puzzles & Skill

What Is It: Pentago CE is a two-player, portable strategy game in which the goal is to be the first player to create a row of five marbles. The twist is that after a player places a marble, he or she also rotates one of the four squares that make up the game board, 90 degrees in any direction. The game comes with black and white marbles.

What We Thought: Pentago is so intuitive players can begin a game without even reading the directions, and its sleek design and simple concept make it immediately attractive. The more one plays it or watches a game of Pentago, the more its nuances are revealed. One reviewer found it reminiscent of an extended tic-tac-toe game, and a little weak on the defensive end — not as well developed in the area of giving players opportunity to directly interrupt their opponent by, say, knocking out an opponent’s piece or issuing some kind of trump card-like counter attack. He appreciated, however, elements that other players applauded, too: the simple rules, quick play, and opportunity for extended matches. “I like Pentago specifically because it’s not too hard, so it has a wider appeal with non-geeks,” another reviewer commented. One player noted that Pentago features the long-term planning of chess but without the complexity. And, it seems the simplicity of the game gives a novice a greater chance of beating an expert than games like Othello or Tannhauser do.

Why They’ll Want It: As one reviewer noted, “This is one of the most elegant [strategy games] I’ve ever seen.” The sophisticated design, “twist” play, portability and easy-to-learn rules are all pluses for Pentago CE, as is the fact that it can be effectively covered in mid-play so opponents can return to a game later on, if need be. Also, since a game can be played in just five minutes, it maintains a rapid-fire pace that keeps players from getting too discouraged when they make mistakes. — Julie L. Jones, 5/29/09

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