Ubongo. Even the name is fun to say, so I had high hopes for the latest To Go edition in the series by KOSMOS. Particularly as we are big fans of the original game.
Ubongo actually means “brains” in Swahili, and you’ll definitely be using yours in this solo focussed version. If you haven’t played any Ubongo games, they’re polyomino based spatial puzzles. Whether it is the Original , Travel, 3D, Extreme , Junior, or this version, you’ll be tessellating shapes like a pro.
Rather than pitting yourself up against others and a timer, however, this To Go version is a portable solo-able game, all tucked neatly into a plastic carry case. And that's because, as the name suggests, it makes it perfect for gaming on the go!
So how does it play? Well, the setup is super easy. You take the 20 cards out of the box and place the puzzle you want to solve at the top. Then you clip the plastic cover down on the Ubongo box securely over it and find the necessary pieces which are all tucked neatly in a pull out drawer underneath.
Using the pieces indicated on the card, your task is to completely fill the grid with no overlaps or gaps. Each card contains multiple challenges (i.e. using different shapes to fill the same grid) and the cards themselves also increase in difficulty from easy to brain bouncingly burny! That’s over 200 opportunities to gnash your teeth and tap the table in the most frustratingly fun way!
Solo Spatial Puzzle
I love solo gaming. And now, having a Ubongo at home that I can take out (or away with me) and play by myself is great! Without the real time pressure of a timer or opponents to beat, it’s just me, my brain and I! But that doesn’t mean that others can’t get in on the action. Indeed, as soon as I have solved a puzzle, my husband and son are right there asking if they can each have a turn!
I am really enjoying Ubongo To Go. And the fact that my spatially gifted husband and son are also enjoying it shows how accessible it is. If you're good at memorising where things go, you might not need to go back to the easier puzzles again. But luckily for me, my memory and polyomino prowess are always sorely lacking. But it doesn't matter. I get a big sense of achievement when I complete a grid even if it's a simple one. And my boys (big and little) like to "show me how it's done", so they push each other to crack the challenges one by one.
But that’s the funny thing. Even if I am scratching my head and really struggling to solve a puzzle, once I have, one is never enough. After a quick “phew” and admiring gaze at the grid, I’m working my way down the card for the next way to make my synapses sweat!
The components in Ubongo To Go are superb – the components are colourful, the case is sturdy, and the little indents on the front of the case keep the little pieces from sliding about. The drawer for keeping the pieces safe is also great – and ours has run in and out pretty smoothly every time.
I would just warn that the polyomino tiles are small so keeping the littlest of gamers (and furry friends!) away from them might be a good idea. Being made from durable plastic also makes it a lot more travel and clumsy friendly. The latter being the more important in my house (and yes, sadly because of me and not my 7 year old! Haha)