Have you ever wondered how many taxis there are in Hong Kong? And what about the breakdown of red, green and blue ones? What's the legal speed limit for minibuses? Why were lion dances nearly banned here in the past? Such facts are curious enough to pique the interest of both adults and youngsters - at least the ones in this writer's vicinity - when trying out Hong Kong Memory, part game, part SAR information book.
Essentially, the game is an age-old one: pairs. My son of nine was already familiar with this concept. A deck of cards comprises two of each image; they are mixed up and laid out face down. Any number of players then, in a continuous order, turn over two cards per play. If cards are the same, they keep that pair and play again. If not, the cards are turned back over and other players try to remember those images and locations to pair up when it's their turn. The person with the most cards at the end is the winner. This classic memory training game is given a local twist here. Photos of places and things with a distinct Hong Kong identity adorn square cards that are about half the size and thickness of an average coaster.
The accompanying booklet explains each of the 40 images. These range from tourist sights that are also local institutions - such as the Star Ferry, a tram and the seated bronze Buddha at Lantau's Po Lin Monastery - to social and cultural sights, such as mahjong, horse racing and egg tarts. The write-ups are engagingly informative and opinionated - with asides on taxi driver habits and bankers' favourite talking topics, among others. The odd inaccuracy creeps in: birds are most commonly housed in bamboo cages, not the mentioned wrought iron ones, for instance.
I expected the sponge-like quality of a young brain to shamefully obliterate the capabilities of tired, ageing parents when my family played the game. Not so: the adults were sharper. The lad got better as we played more games, but he was noticeably intrigued to be turning over familiar images, such as the ICC Tower and Hong Kong bank notes.
The game is recommended for over threes, and that seems about right, though the booklet's vocabulary and tone seem more suitable for teenagers and upwards. Parents can easily paraphrase or explain new words to younger children, as I did for my son. The set is beautifully packaged. A slight annoyance, however, is the need for grammatical editing - apostrophes and capital letters erroneously appear throughout.
Verdict: an almost perfect family set, this seems a great gift idea for those having a connection with Hong Kong. For adults without children, consider how often you might play the game.
Hong Kong Memory - HK$200 at Bookazine, Dymocks and other outlets (www.thinqhongkong.com )