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Where to begin? How about the board design and its effect on the game objectives. The game requires the completion of two conditions for a win: you must have collected four separate tokens and placed four plastic monkeys on top of the large bed in the center of the board. You accomplish this by spinning a dial on a cardboard wheel and advancing 1-6 spaces along a rectangular track, landing on either an image featuring one of the four tokens or a "monkey space" which allows you to place 1-3 monkeys on the bed. There are a couple of issues here - the board is designed in such a way that, with one or two exceptions, you will always land on the same space every time you spin a '5.' In other words, if you just collected the "teeth brushing" token, spinning a '5' on your next turn will bring you to the next "teeth brushing" token on the board. If you spin another 5 on the following turn, the same thing will happen...and so on and so forth. This doesn't sound like too big of a problem, until someone spins '5' four times in a row, effectively missing three consecutive turns, as advancement in and of itself doesn't really achieve much.
This is further compounded by the fact that monkeys can be knocked off the bed, in a manner similar to some other classic games. At the end of each player's turn, that player must press a button on the bed, and every few turns the mattress will bounce up, knocking a few monkeys back off the bed. This can be very frustrating under the right conditions, and can greatly extend the length of the game if it manages to keep victory out of reach that much longer for all players. It gets worse the more players you add to the game (up to a maximum of 4). It isn't much fun for anyone when a player spins 5 a couple of times in a row and then proceeds to knock all of his or her own monkeys off the bed (happens more often than you might think).
Perhaps the worst part of the game for younger players is keeping them on track throughout their turn. Most games for very young children are set up so that a turn has two steps...three at most. Generally speaking, you roll something or spin something, and then either move your piece and react to that movement or simply react to the result of the spin/roll. In Five Little Monkeys, the child must spin the wheel, move the monkey, place monkeys on the bed OR collect a token, press the button on the bed, and then collect any of their own monkeys that have fallen if the bed sprang up this turn.
on Jan 29, 2011