Fun for young kids
Requires large space to play
Players may memorize the board
With five kids ranging from ages 7 to 15, it can be a challenge to find board games that everyone in my family can play. Recently, my younger kids and I tested out Richard Scarry’s Busytown, Eye Found It!, a board game in the theme of “Busytown,” the famous series by children's author and illustrator Richard Scarry.
Enlisting the help of some preschool-aged pals, we played multiple times to share a true sense of each game, its positive and negative attributes, and the type of person who might like (or dislike) it the most.
Design: Planes, trains, automobiles—and a ferry
This game’s 6-foot-long board lets two to four players dive right into the world of Richard Scarry’s Busytown. The board consists of three folding panels that fit together like a puzzle, which my first grader delighted in figuring out and setting up himself. He was likewise thrilled to be able to decipher the instructions (mostly) on his own.
A winding road stretches across lively scenes, including a city, town, farm, construction area, airport, and harbor. Across the water is Picnic Island. Each player chooses one of four mover pieces depicting one of Scarry’s characters (including Lowly Worm and Huckle Cat), attaches it to a base, and makes his or her way along the route via spins on the game spinner (starting with the youngest player).
Ultimately, the characters are trying to get to a ferry boat (another token piece placed at the end of the road) that will then take them to Picnic Island, where hungry piggies are threatening to devour their food (represented by six food “tiles”). There is also a stack of 20 “Goldbug” cards, 10 magnifying glass tokens, and a sand timer, all of which sit to the side of the board.
The game works great right on the floor or on a long dining room table. You’ll want to be able to move around the board and get your head close. My sons just lie down right next to it to be able to fully immerse themselves into searching the board for the hidden objects (more on that later).
Each flick of the arrow will result in one of the following: a character moving ahead one to four spaces (landing on a shortcut adds to the fun), the pigs eating a picnic item of the group’s choosing, or the opportunity to solve a “Goldbug Mystery.” This is where “I spy” comes in and the game really comes alive.
The player who spins Goldbug draws and flips a card revealing a hidden object to find. Everyone searches the board until the sand timer (about 40 seconds) runs out. Each scene along the road is jam-packed with hidden items, many of which can be a challenge to spot. My youngest child and I still haven’t found a single wrench!
The game goes by in a flash, but it’s conducive to repeated sessions.
Everyone benefits when your teammates find and mark items with the magnifying glass tokens—each player advances the collective number of hidden items found—but you still get to battle the clock and each other to find as many as you can.
This is a collaborative game, so players combine their efforts to win or lose together. Players win if the entire group reaches the feast before the hungry piggies have eaten everything. They lose if the pigs gobble up the picnic. It’s not a given that you will win, making it all the more satisfying when you do.
Entertainment Value: A fun “I spy” element
The game goes by in a flash (I’d say from less than five to about 15 minutes at the longest), but it’s conducive to repeated sessions. Each time my kids and I have taken the game out, we have played four or five times in a row.
My youngest son, 7, has dubbed this ‘the fun game.’
Non-competitive games for the under-10 set sometimes tend to be a bit, shall I say, boring, but that’s not the case here. Sure, since the concept is so simple, some players might memorize the board. I don’t think it would be an issue for most, though, as there are tons of items to find. If anything, I think it gets more fun the more you play. In fact, my youngest son, 7, has dubbed this “the fun game.”
The “I spy” element is definitely this game’s greatest strength. One way to make it even better would be to add more Goldbug sections to the spinner; whenever we play, everyone is hoping for that spin. In one game, when we found all 10 ladders, the round after going nil for the wrenches, we cheered.
Age Range: Perfect for preschoolers on up
My first-grader, his friends, and a few of their preschool siblings loved this game, and I genuinely enjoyed looking for the hidden pictures alongside them. The manufacturer says this game is geared for 3 years and up, but I think 5 and up is ideal. A 3-year-old with a parent or older sibling will do fine, but once kids are a bit older, they’re able to fully navigate the more challenging parts of the game: finding items in 40 seconds and patiently awaiting teammates’ arrival at the ferry.
My first-grader, his friends, and a few of their preschool siblings loved this game, and I genuinely enjoyed looking for the hidden pictures alongside them.
My 7- and 9-year-olds enjoyed the role-playing element of taking on their characters, acting out the picnic at the end, and divvying up the remaining food. I appreciated that the game can naturally extend into imaginative play. During a particularly exciting Goldbug hunt, my 14-year-old, who was in the room reading, even got sucked into the fervor, showing us all the wrenches he could spy.
What’s great is that while little ones can still get in on the action, this is no “baby” game—and your children can grow with it, increasing their enjoyment the more they play.
Ease of Cleaning: A snap
Like most board games, not much, if any, cleaning is required beyond wiping off any crumbs or debris from snacks. Overall, the board is well-constructed and durable, but since we played on the floor, my kiddos (and our dog) did walk on it once or twice; I’d suggest taking off shoes prior to playing. It also comes with a handy plastic bags for keeping the parts organized, so it’s easy to put away.
Price: Well worth it
This game retails for around $25. This might sound steep for a children’s board game, but it’s well worth the investment. You’ll be playing this game for years to come. It’s already heavy in our rotation.
Competition: Other cooperative games on the market
Family Pastimes’ Max, which costs around $15, is another great collaborative game. In this one, players aim to help a baby bird, squirrel, and mouse to their treehouse homes before Max that cat devours them. Shortcuts, the need to strategize which animal to move each time, and the option to use edible enticements to lure Max back to his bed when he gets too close for comfort add to the fun.
Both games remain interesting after repeated play, but Max is less expensive. However, I think Richard Scarry’s Busytown, Eye Found It! has the edge due to the thrill of hidden object-hunting.
- Product Name Richard Scarry’s Busytown, Eye Found It!
- Product Brand Wonder Forge
- Price $26.98
- Weight 3.2 lbs.
- Product Dimensions 15.8 x 2.7 x 10.6 in.
- Manufacturer Recommended Age Range 3+
- Players 2-4
- What’s Included 1 game board, 4 movers and bases, 1 spinner, 1 ferry tile, 10 magnifying glass tokens, 6 food tiles, 20 Goldbug cards, 1 timer, and game instructions