Today’s post follows up on my review of Dinosaur Bingo, with the second of the two games sent to me by Laurence King Publishing. Match These Bones is a memory card game with a bit of a twist. Unlike most memory matching card games in which players match identical cards, in this game players instead match fleshed out dinosaurs to their skeletons.
I like the artwork by James Barker that graces the set. He clearly paid attention when illustrating the skeletons, which all look more or less professional quality. The fleshed out dinosaur reconstructions directly conform to the skeletal dimensions, as one would hope from both a paleoart and gameplay perspective, making the species easier to identify. Most of the life restorations look pretty accurate, even the feathered dinosaurs. I like the coloration used in these illustrations as well, with busy, vibrant patterns which give them a rather unique look.
I applaud the decision to match the dinosaurs to their bones rather than simply matching identical pictures as is more typical of games like this. I think it helps develop a more nuanced form of pattern recognition, and imparts a greater educational quality to the game, encouraging players to think about how bodies relate to the skeletons underneath.
While the dinosaurs are not identified by name on the game cards themselves, Match These Bones doubles its value so to speak by including a relatively detailed fact book called “Meet the Dinos”, written by paleontologist Paul Upchurch, along with Sarah Silver. It provides a basic introduction to each dinosaur in the game, and includes the illustrations of both the skeleton and the life reconstruction side-by-side for easier identification.
My kids and I have all had fun playing Match These Bones together. I consider it overall more solid of a product than Dinosaur Bingo, though my kids seem to enjoy both equally. If you only buy one of the two, I recommend Match These Bones, as it balances the entertainment and the educational value much more effectively. While I wasn’t sure about it at first, having had some time to enjoy it, I think I can comfortably give this game my Dino Dad Stomp of Approval!