Maiko – Don’t Panic Games – Review

Don't Panic Games has defined what art should look like in a memory game.

Josh Hale



Theme and What is it?


Maiko is a game about girls training to be Geisha. The theme is very light and you mostly see it in the artwork rather than gameplay.

The overall game is memory on steroids, with self helper cues. This is a game that I can play with my daughter, or as a gateway game for people that do not play modern game mechanics.

Gameplay Mechanics


As I said, this is memory on steroids. I generally like to write as in depth as I can about the mechanics, but the base game is very simple, just a lot more moving parts. 

As you do certain actions, you can get bonuses that allow bonus actions. These are to make the game “easier” but in function, you are still limited by your memory, especially when playing more than 2 people. 

Initial Impressions


I love simple mechanics renewed, given new vigor. That is what Don’t Panic Games has done with Maiko.

They did not try to create a whole new idea of what memory is, or should be, but rather supplemented it to be something that apart from mechanics is nearly unrecognizable from the game we all played as children. 

The bright colors give this some table presence, and should be enjoyed. 

Game Build Quality


This game is very well designed as far as a component quality. Even the back of the board has been made to look pretty. 

This is marketing that is lost on MANY games. Why not use the part of the board that no one sees to market this or other games? The more people that see your logo, the better in the world of marketing. For that reason, though there are some simple issues with components, I am going to give this section a 10. Don’t Panic Games has taken a step so many publishers neglect. 

It only took a little more effort, and the cost to do so, would be nearly non-existent.

Artistic Direction


Simple strong lines. This is a memory game after all. 

That being said, these strong lines are perfect for the style of game they are part of. If the Maiko’s were made into posters, I would hang them on my wall. 

Obviously taste of art is subjective. However, this art, is made for THIS game, and that is a huge thing in gaming. Much art in gaming has a baseline, “I’d like to see a dragon mage with wings and a halo.” Maiko, was “I am going to make a memory game about maikos, the students who will become Geisha, and each piece of the art has to be pretty, and help the player in playing the game, while also showing the life of a maiko.”

Don’t Panic Games has defined what art should look like in a memory game.

Fun Factor


This game is fun for me and my daughter. She is 8. She likes blocking me and stealing my pieces. 

Do be aware, it is a memory game, and as such, for older groups, may have lesser replay value. However, for a parent that is tired of farm-based memory games, this game fits the bill exactly for a replacement of the memory games I grew up with.

Age Range & Weight


9+. This is nearly perfect. My daughter had a bit of a hard time remembering to use the skills to good effect. 

Sadly, at 42, I made the same mistake, more than once. :joy:

Again, I think Don’t Panic Games hit the nail on the head for this part of the game.



As a dad, I love this game. It adds so much to a family title. I can imagine my daughter asking to play this fairly regularly.

The crux of this is that for you to get the full value of the game, I would suggest having a few children in mind, yours, nephews, nieces, whatever. 

This is not a negative as a father who wants engaging games to play with my daughter. Though, you must be aware of what you are playing or buying if you don’t have that audience in mind. 

All in all, I personally really and truly like Maiko, and like the idea that someone is using games to educate as to what Maiko and Geisha truly are, artisans. Sadly, in western culture we often see Geisha as Oiran. It is good to educate children as to other cultures. This is a great first step.