Suspend Balancing Game Review (Melissa & Doug)

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Suspend is an award-winning dexterity and balancing game, in which 1 to 4 players attempt to balance notched metal sticks on top of each other in some kind of deranged mess. Your goal is to put up all of your sticks before another player does, but it's also complete nonsense. To stress, this is a game for children, but that's never stopped us before. Suspend is intended for eight and up -- and is a family-style game -- but I suspect it would be better for children even younger.

Suspend Balancing Game Review

Players: 1 to 4

Game Time: 10 Minutes

Age: 8+

Genre: Kid's / Dexterity

How is Suspend Played?

There are multiple modes for suspend. At the most basic, each player takes a stack of sticks and tries to place them one by one, until complete. At a more intermediate level, players roll a die to choose which color of stick they place (each color of stick is a different length and complexity). Players need to place a stick without dropping any other sticks, which is actually really easy. It looks daunting, but it's no Cuckoo's Nest. 

Looking at the game, you might assume that you need to cross sticks at intersections, but you actually don't. The game's rules are vague enough that you can actually place sticks pretty much anywhere, as long as it isn't in an already occupied notch. You can even place a stick somewhere and let it slide into an already occupied notch.

Who is writing this game for children? We really need to expect more of them if they are going to succeed.

This Game (For Children) Is Too Easy

We are really bad at dexterity games, but we found it pretty hard to fail at Suspend. That's even considering the fact that my manual dexterity operates at a 6 year old level (so I shouldn't even be allowed to play this game). The sticks fit into the notches very securely. Even trying to create the most ridiculous tower we could, we couldn't knock off more than one piece, once.

But there was also something weird about suspend. We were playing the intermediate version of the game. When you place a stick, you first roll a die. If color comes up that you don't have, you have to place a stick from the other person's pile. That means that the game rubberbands; once you're far enough ahead, you end up just placing sticks from the other people.

What kind of socialist nonsense are we teaching these children? Just because I'm ahead in the game, now I've gotta help everyone else with their sticks? And if I fail, I get an extra stick, which means I get punished for helping them. I retract the previous statement: this is clearly capitalist propaganda.

Even after we built our tower, it took a few firm shakes to get anything to actually fall down. I'm hard-pressed to think that children are any less competent than I am at placing metal sticks. I think that the game -- which states that it "develops hand-eye coordination, cognitive skills, and interpersonal skills" -- would actually do better with children even younger than eight. And, it's been awarded the coveted "Best Games of 2012" by Best Toys Guide.

Suspend Balancing Game Review
  • PRO: Will teach children how to place grooved metal sticks in irrational and dangerous patterns.
  • CON: May teach children about the inherent unfairness of life.