Present, in July 2020, were: Granny, The Ant, Panda, Teenage Avenger
Pure fun is in pretty short supply at the moment. So, for our first cautious steps out of lockdown, we were lucky to pick a solid feel-good (and feel-safe) option from our local favourites, Want To Escape. We’ve previously completed their Conspiracist and seasonal Santa’s Stowaway rooms, so now was the turn of their newish (but not newest) confection, the uniquely named Shimmy Shimmy Cocoa Pop. From now on, SSCP, as I’m not writing that out every time…
If Conspiracist is a complex headscratching composition with myriad strands and a slightly sinister edge (think Bohemian Rhapsody) then SSCP is a joyous wodge of bubblegum pop, to get you skipping about, despite yourself, wearing a big goofy grin. A sequel of sorts to the Tom Hanks’ movie Big, it is pure 80s kid-centric nostalgia, beautifully themed with all the puzzles slotting pleasingly into the decor.
Like Santa’s Stowaway, this is a heist. Rather than stealing from Father Christmas, this time you are burglarising a teenage boy’s bedroom. Which is, of course, perfectly fine. (Fortunately he is a much tidier 13 year old than many – looking at you, Teenage Avenger). And the set is a delight, for original 80s kids or just 80s fans – Stranger Things aficionados will love it. You’re stealing a prototype toy that Josh (from Big) has hidden in his room, a neat concept that circumvents many of the problems with Escape Room logic, while indulging in a stack of iconic stuff from the era.
As suggested earlier, this is maybe not the most mentally challenging game, focusing instead on observation (we suck, must be rusty) and action. Some of the puzzles are strongly skills-based, more than is usual for average Escape Rooms, which makes it ideal for younger or beginner groups. Although, beware, this doesn’t mean the physical tasks are easy!
A necessary word about Covid – Want To Escape have taken plenty of advice and precautions. Booking confirmation comes with a full set of information, reassurance and instruction on their hygiene procedures. Handwashing is available before you even enter the venue, masks and social distancing are enforced in the public areas of the building and there is no contact with other visitors (teams must consist of your ‘bubble’). Masks don’t have to be worn in the room itself, which is then thoroughly disinfected between well spaced out groups. Topping up with provided hand sanitiser in the room is also encouraged. This is all well-managed, without affecting gameplay. To be honest, it was lovely to forget about the outside world, lose ourselves in 1988 and be big kids, where our greatest troubles are a misidentified CareBear and a really, really annoying marble. If you are looking for a happy, low-risk activity for the summer holidays, this is a great place to start.
- Storyline: Might help, but not essential, to familiarise yourself with the movie first. Otherwise, basic heist, with a clever non-linear style.
- Theming and Set: Much nostalgic oohing. We all want that duvet.
- Searching: Not a lot, but observation important.
- Puzzles: Nothing too intellectual.
- Physicality: Hand-eye co-ordination very necessary. One section can be skipped (thankfully) for a penalty.
- Scare factor: The movie was 32 years ago. That’s terrifying.
- Company Age Guidance: “We recommend 8+, but wouldn’t restrict anyone from having a go. Children under 16 need to be accompanied by an adult at the venue, but not necessarily in the escape room”
- Age suitability: Very family friendly (bar marble-related swearing) with youngish children able to participate in some of the puzzles.