In the time-honored preschool age board game Don’t Wake Daddy, children seeking a midnight snack try to sneak past a sleeping father to a refrigerator chock full of goodies. This seems like an incredibly simple task even for children, right? Not so fast, bucko. In the kids’ way are all manner of noise making obstacles. What if you wake up the baby, or step on the cat’s tail? There’s just no way Daddy sleeps through all these annoying sounds. If the titular Daddy wakes up, mashing the “snooze” button on his alarm clock may send him back to sleep. If the old snooze button doesn’t work and Daddy doesn’t “five more minutes” it with his slumber he will awaken completely. Then, he’ll send the offender back to bed (the starting point of the game) with no snacks. No cookies, warm milk or other fattening treats for you, young one.
Players 2-4 | Game Time: 20 min. | Complexity: Low | Age Range: 3+ | Release Year: 1992
In this family game, the younger player gets to go first, which will grant them some fun bragging rights. Players take turns using a spinner to move between corresponding colored spaces. If you get a purple star, you move all the way to the front of the line. If the color matches a card you’re holding, everything is fine. But if not, you’ll make a noise such arousing a sleeping baby, barking dog or tripping over rollerblades. The offending player must then press a button on Daddy’s alarm clock a certain number of times. If he stays asleep you’re safe. But if he springs to life the kid who woke him up goes back to the beginning.
The theme of kids getting one over on the adults is as old as children’s entertainment itself. Players in the target age range will pick up the easy-to-understand theme. This isn’t wizards, aliens or anything too fanciful. Some of the players have probably tried to do something just like this at home, especially when the fridge is stocked with holiday goodies. Children will also enjoy watching the wide-eyed daddy toy spring from his bed, nightcap flying off in shock. You can have even more fun by counting the alarm presses loudly, or acting out noises such as the crying baby or screeching cat. This one is not meant to be taken too seriously.
The good and bad news of this revolves around dear old Daddy himself. The game doesn’t require any batteries, as it has no electric parts. But your mileage on how long the Daddy toy lasts may vary. Some players have been unlucky and had their spring-loaded Daddy creation break. Then he may become either too hard or too easy to rouse from bed. Since he’s the whole point of the game, an injury to him would seriously dampen the replayability. If that doesn’t happen to you, your kids may get quite a few plays out of this.
3. Player Interaction
It’s not always easy to keep small children occupied. Don’t Wake Daddy accomplishes this tasks with a number of tricks. There’s a lot for tiny hands to do on their turn, including counting, matching the proper colors and numbers as well as possibly mashing Daddy’s snooze button. Even for the players watching, there’s a fair amount of suspense as Daddy could spring into action at a moment’s notice.
Having been on the board game scene since 1992, it’s perfectly fair to call Don’t Wake Daddy a classic. Don’t Wake Daddy was an instant hit with kids and critics after its 1992 debut. It would go on to be one of the best selling games of that Christmas season. Hasbro cited it as one of the major reasons its fourth quarter profits went up 46 percent that year. Don’t Wake Daddy is definitely a game that has stood the test of time. Daddy has been around long enough for an entire generation of parents to grow up on the game. There are apparently even books based on the game. Can a movie can be far behind? Don’t laugh at that idea too hard. Nobody would have predicted Battleship: The Movie either. Yet a bunch of highly paid executives once thought that was the best use of $300 million.
5. Art And Style
Don’t Wake Daddy’s eternally harried father has become the stuff of memes. Both on the box art and in toy form, this poor guy looks as if he hasn’t had a decent night’s sleep since 1992. The animals have that same wild-eyed look. One might almost be mad at the minions that have driven them to this state. But the children and their little cherubic faces strike that perfect balance of innocent and mischievous. Who would be waking Daddy and the pets at all hours of the night? Not these adorable little tykes, they’re probably somewhere saying their bedtime prayers, I tell ya!
Don’t Wake Daddy is a controversial topic in some gaming circles. Sure, the thing can break right of the box in some unfortunate cases. The same is true of PlayStation and iPhones and we pay hundreds of dollars for those things. Don’t Wake Daddy can be had for around $20 or less, or in buy one, get one free sales on board games. But hundreds of boardgames are released every single year. Most are lucky if anyone is talking about them five or six weeks afterwards. Don’t Wake Daddy has decades under his belt, or his well-worn pajamas. He has inspired memes, books, YouTube videos and more than a few imitators. It’s no easy feat to become a profitable and long-running game for a company like Hasbro, which has brands such as GI Joe, My Little Pony and Magic: The Gathering in its stable.
All these years later, Don’t Wake Daddy still appears on countless lists of the best toys and board games for the preschooler age group. If your kids enjoy this game, other similar games in the genre include Pop The Pig and Mouse Trap.
Rating: 8 out of 10