Out of the box, the components of Jenga Max do not bear any resemblance to the by now iconic rectangular blocks that made up the original game. But do not let the bright colors and strange plastic pieces scare you away! Jenga Max retains the same tension and thrill of Jenga, with the addition of a unique visual flair.
It’s still a stacking game. Manual dexterity is a must. Unlike the original which unnerved players by slowly destabilizing the base of a tower, Jenga Max challenges players to load colorful plastic pieces onto a ring that is held above the table by a magnet. In the end, the effect is the same. Unbalance the structure, mishandle a piece, or just be the sorry sap to overload the magnet’s attraction and (say it with me) JENGA!! It all comes crashing down.
Building stuff up is fun but bringing it to ruins is satisfying on a disturbingly universal level.
As you’ve probably noticed if you have visited this site more than once, visual design is an important component of Major Fun games. Jenga Max not only works as a great stacking game, but it also attracts your attention with the way the pieces fit together. The game comes with 36 plastic blocks in three colors: yellow, orange, and red. Each block has two holes on one end and a rectangular notch on the opposite side. Players stack the pieces by hooking the notch into the holes. By virtue of the piece design, the resulting chains form intriguing arcs and surprising angles. As players add more and more pieces, the entire contraption looks like a translucent, alien flower or sea creature.
Jenga Max captivates children and adults. The unique patterns and designs that arise through play give players reason to pause before each move, just to admire the beautiful principles of the lever and counter-balance. From the experience of my family, my eight-year-old loved the more competitive side of the game while my five-year-old just wanted to see if we could get all the pieces off the ground.
And there are few things that evoke the spirit of Major Fun more than yelling JENGA when your work of art smashes into the table and you have to gather the pieces up for round two.
Jenga Max is a product of Parker Brothers and Hasbro Games, © 2009. You can find more pictures, a video and an animated demo of the game in action on their site.
Will Bain, Games Taster