Well, “Freeze Up” certainly takes me back. The last electronic handheld game I remember playing as a kid (besides my Nintendo Game Boy) involved Tiger Electronics and a number of incredibly unplayable licensed games like “Double Dragon” and “Simon’s Quest”. Further back we had those infamous “Speak & Spells” that you just couldn’t believe were (*GASP*) actually talking to you. Long story short, it’s been a while since I’ve held something like “Freeze Up” in my hands. No, seriously…I had to Google what a Double-A battery looked like. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit, but you get the idea. Having reviewed so many board games and video games within the past year, I’ve almost forgotten what these things look like. Before we take a look at what “Freeze Up” is all about, I’d like to thank Nancy Davies, the Vice President of Salmon Borre Group, for providing me with a free press copy.
Handheld Device – This is the only component that comes in the box (besides the three Double-A batteries that the game requires). Think of it as a “Gamecube” or “Playstation” controller in that it has buttons on both the front and the top. Along the top are buttons for volume, power, number of players, and game modes. On the front are buttons for prompting new categories & new letters, freezing the timer, challenging other players, accepting or rejecting words, and moving on to the next player.
Setup & Gameplay
Setting up the game is fairly simple in that you’ll turn the device on, decide on the number of players, and choose a game mode. It’s important that all of the players are sitting close to each other, as part of the gameplay requires you to quickly pass the unit to the next person after your turn is over. The two game modes, auto and manual, dictate how hectic the game will be. Auto mode will start the next player’s turn automatically, requiring players to be quick and pass it on when their turn is over. Manual is slower-paced in that the game won’t start the next turn until the appropriate player has the device in hand and hits the GO button.
To sum up gameplay, each player starts with sixty seconds. The game will announce a question for the current player, who must then announce an answer out loud. The game relies on other players to challenge the answer, rather than accepting the answer itself. In other words, there’s no manual or voice input that the game processes when players give their answer. Once the current player says an answer, they’ll hit the FREEZE button to stop the timer and then pass the device off to the next player. Whether or not the timer for the next person starts automatically depends on what mode (auto or manual) was chosen.
If a player is unable to come up with an answer, they can hit the NEW CATEGORY or NEW LETTER button instead to prompt the game to give them a different question. It’s important to note that pressing either button results in a three-second penalty. The questions themselves fall under the same general format: “Name an ‘X’, letter ‘Y'”. To translate, and as an example, the system might ask the player to name a sport that starts with the letter F or to name a flower that starts with the letter T.
The next player is permitted to challenge the answer of the previous person by making use of the CHALLENGE button. The other players will then vote to see who is actually right. Depending on who is wrong (ACCEPT/REJECT buttons), time will be docked for that individual accordingly (five seconds). ACCEPT favors the original answer, while REJECT favors the challenger.
Play continues until there is only one person left standing, who wins the game!
The above doesn’t cover all of the rules found in the manual, but should give you an idea as to how the game is played. For more information, please refer to the manual, linked below for your convenience.
We all found the unit easy to handle and use. There are quite a few buttons on the device, though the four page manual does a good job explaining the rules and provided a ton of pictures to help players out in learning the interface. It’s also worth pointing out that batteries came included in the game itself…back in my day (presumably before the wheel was invented), this was a rarity, sort of like winning the lottery.
I appreciate the addition of the manual mode, especially since my reflexes are slowing down in my old age. The high-strung may also get stressed out playing on auto, making manual mode a great alternative. I myself prefer the manual mode, only because I get too tempted on auto to hit the FREEZE button and then run from the table with the device in hand while the next player’s time falls to zero. Playing “Keep Away” has never been so fun.
The game itself has a lot of potential in the classroom, since it’s designed to accommodate anywhere from two to eight players. It would serve as a great educational tool on a grade school level, especially in the areas of vocabulary. Teachers could take the game a step further by placing the game on manual and requiring the students to spell the word after hitting the FREEZE button.
With that said, we found the game to be pretty challenging. Even as an adult, I found myself “freezing up” (hence the name) on a regular basis to the point where the NEW CATEGORY and NEW LETTER buttons began to form a union. Individuals like myself who don’t operate well under pressure may have a difficult time with “Freeze Up”, but those who keep the atmosphere casual will more than likely still find the game enjoyable.
Based on the game’s simplicity, there’s not much else to say except that the game was well received by our family. “Freeze Up” is not only fun to play, but is educational to boot. It’s for this reason that I recommend the game to both families and schools alike, especially if you have or are teaching kids who are struggling in their Language Arts classes.
Final Verdict: 9/10
You can learn more about and purchase “Freeze Up” by visiting the following websites: