Funkeys live in a world of their own
Mattel FunkeysStarter Pack
Only £21.99 from Amazon
Incl. P&P Individual Funkeys
Internet based game worlds are fairly popular these days. My daughter is often to be found travelling various make believe worlds on the Internet, her favourite being Habbo World where she wanders round, buying 'furni' and chatting with friends.
Funkeys inhabit a slightly different kind of world. For a start it isn't based on the Internet, a big plus if you're worried about just who they are talking to on-line! Instead this make believe world is inhabited by automated Funkeys, strange little people that come in a range of colours and facial designs. Each facial design designates certain characteristics or skills. The colours denote rarity.
Rarity is important because unlike other virtual worlds you can visit, Funkeys have a manifestation in our world in the form of small plastic collectable characters. The characters act as keys (hence Funkeys) that unlock different parts of the Funkey world.
The mother of all Funkeys
To allow the physical Funkeys to unlock areas of the virtual world on your computer, they must first be able to talk to your computer. They do this through a 'mother of all Funkeys' (my name for it) which is much bigger and connects to a spare USB port on your computer. This acts very much like a card reader - where the little Funkeys are the cards. Each baby Funkey has a set of metal contacts on the base. Slide one into a slot in the head of the mother Funkey and it's code is sent to the computer.
To enter the Funkey world you have to buy a starter kit. This contains the mother Funkey, two Funkeys and a CD containing the virtual world software. Install the software and at the appropriate moment plug the mother Funkey into the USB and you should be away.
We had a few problems with installation. On one machine running Windows XP SP2, although the installation said that it had found the Funkey the game itself insisted that it wasn't there. We had to give up on that machine in the end. On another older machine running Windows 2000 everything installed fine and worked, but everything was too slow to be enjoyable, and the software periodically crashed. On a very recent machine we had no problems.
We also have a number of problems with the Funkey not being recognised by the software. Connecting through a separate USB hub often failed to recognise the hardware, and connecting directly gave the message "Something is wrong with your Funkey - can you investigate". Hopefully this will be resolved with later versions of the software drivers, but it was infuriating.
I notice looking at the Funkeys web-site there is a USB hub patch, which I hadn't found at the time, so you may find that helps. The URL to the patch is :
What's in Funkey World?
When you first start the software you select a user name and password. This allows each member of the family and friends to have their own area.
Once your account is created you enter Funkey world. You appear on the screen as the Funkey that you've placed into the slot on the mother Funkey. You can remove that one at any time and simple insert a different one, your image within the game changes immediately.
There are many other Funkeys roaming the world, although with the exception of the tax-collectors your interaction with them is limited.
Funkey World is split into a number of sub-worlds that are reached by teleport devices (called portals). Many of these are broken or in a state of repair and so will only work with some Funkeys - if you haven't got the right one then you can't get to that location, not at least by that route.
Each area has it's own character and seem to be predominantly populated by one type of Funkey. Buildings dot the landscape and you can try and get into them. Each building generally contains something interesting, quite often a game or challenge. Once more, to get into a building you have to be able to unlock it by having the right Funkey.
The games I've played so far have been very good - and very addictive (at 2am one day I really had to drag myself away from my 'n'th game of Funk Jongg!).
Each game is scored and you can win gold for your performance. When you get good enough at a game it is added to your Funkey Crib - a special place to call your own. Once the game is there you can play whenever you like without having to go find the room again.
Many on-line games give you the ability to create your own space within the virtual world, and while Funkeys is a little different, you also have your home area, called a Crib. You can decorate it how you want, add carpet and pain the walls. You have a living room, games room that gives immediate access to all those games you've mastered and a Trophy Room in which you can store, well, Trophies.
Of course a nicely decorated living room is fine, but what do you put in it? That's where all that gold you won playing games into the small wee hours comes in. Dotted around the Funkeys world are various market stalls from which you can purchase all manner of 'things'. Being a little slow to catch on, I managed to buy some complete junk - including a brain in a bottle, volcano tub and a Pet Gator (my crib is shown in the image to the right)!
Sharing your crib
Once you have your crib looking the way you want it then you can allow your friends to take a peak. Simply 'share' your crib and give it a unique name. Once you've saved your crib tell your friends your cribs name. They go to a special place in Funkey World called "Grand Funkey Station" enter your name and then they'll see your efforts.
I've tried this. If you're interested I've shared my crib with the name "redrabbits". Unfortunately attempting to visit that crib from a different account just claims it doesn't exist. If you have better luck then please let me know (leave a comment below!).
The world is full of games as I've said. These are both fun, addictive and allow you to earn gold coins with which to buy things to decorate your crib.
There are many games in different rooms scattered around the world. Of those I tried they are all of good quality and exercise various skills. A plate shooting game will exercise your eye-mouse coordination, tile matching will exercise mouse skills and your brain. Museum Mask Mayhem you'll love or hate, but that will leave you frustrated and determined to do better next time!
The Funkeys web-site has a summary of some of the games, only a few of which I've managed to find and play!
The Funkeys Family
As I've said there are lots of Funkeys to collect. Forty Two in total. You get two in your starter kit, which will cost your around £25 - Amazon seem the cheapest at £21.99 including shipping You can then buy additional Funkeys for £4.99. Now in theory that's going to cost you £220!
As I've said there are lots of Funkeys to collect. Forty Two in total. You get two in your starter kit, which will cost your around $20 - Amazon have the starter kit for $19.99 including shipping. You can then buy additional Funkeys from around $6 upwards, depending on rarity! Now in theory that's going to cost you over $300!
As I've said there are lots of Funkeys to collect. Forty Two in total. You get two in your starter kit, which will cost your around €30 - Amazon have the starter kit for €29,40 including shipping. You can then buy additional Funkeys from around €8 upwards, depending on rarity! Now in theory that's going to cost you over €400!
In practice I think these could become the next playground collectable with Funkeys being swapped after use. As far as I can tell once you've scored enough in a game to have it added to your crib you no longer need that specific Funkey to play the game - allowing you to swap with a friend to unlock more of the world.
Actually, although there are 42 Funkeys in total, there are actually 14 distinct Funkey designs, each of which come in three levels of rarity : normal; rare or very rare. One assumes Radica will restrict the availability of the rare and very rare designs, which in themselves could create added value for those lucky enough to find one!
The concept of Funkeys are great and the game itself is very well put together. You literally can spend hours playing the various component games. In my case I have six Funkeys and have spent hours unlocking what must be a very small part of the Funkey world.
I'm a little disappointed with the way the software often fails to recognise the hardware, insisting that a clearly present mother Funkey is in fact not connected to your computer. Windows undoubtedly must take some of the blame for this, but more work could have been done to ensure that everything works together.
The other concern of course is the environmental impact of millions of plastic/metal Funkeys flooding the world. Is this really something we need right now when a lower impact solution could have been constructed? I have some sympathy with the manufacturer in this because of the lack of perceived value people seem to have for things they can't hold.
For those parents that are concerned with their children interacting with real people in on-line worlds this is an ideal replacement - providing hours of entertainment in complete safety. In the case of my children they absolutely loved Funkeys. To write this review I first had to wander around the house to locate all six of mine that had managed to wander to various bedrooms where they were adorning window ledges and mantel pieces.
A lot more information on Funkeys, including biographies of many of the different available Funkeys are available at their very own web-site :
The web-site is not quite complete yet so expect that to improve over time!
Amazon have the best price I could find for the starter pack at £21.99, including shipping :
Amazon have the best price I could find for the starter pack at $19.99, including shipping :
Amazon have the best price I could find for the starter pack at €29.40, including shipping :
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