Published on July 2nd, 2014 | by Nicole Jekich2
Wacky Roll Review
From the first glance, Wacky Roll is a very familiar and a well recognized game. It is a story that all of us know and have experienced ourselves in a different medium. I don’t want to get into a discussion of how this game was made despite obvious similarities between it and licensed characters. I am more concerned with how this game fairs against its arcade counterpart and whether it is a fun and interesting tabletop game on its own. Games based on licenses are usually scrutinized more by their established fan base for how well they present the source material.
This production copy of Wacky Roll made its way to us all the way from Germany. We received the game in pretty good condition with just a couple nicks. Disregarding the slight wear from shipping, Wacky Roll is a great example of diverse packaging methods and accessibility. The tubed packaging is very portable and holds multiple glossy sheets of paper that players use as the board.
The paper is not reusable. Players mark up the board with a permanent market, toss the paper when a game is completed and use a fresh piece of paper for all new games. This is definitely a cheaper way to play but does offer limitations. Eventually the paper will run out and to play, players will have to pay money to order more or print more. This problem is easily altered by laminating one piece of paper and buying a dry erase marker. For less than $10, you can customize Wacky Roll into a sturdy and lasting game that just needs the board, a marker and a small bag of dice and pieces. The pieces are wooden and the dice have numbers on stickers instead of an engraving.
Those who want a more epic experience should check out Wacky Roll’s older sister, Wacky Whit: a completely handmade board game complete with 450 pieces, weighing over 17 pounds with a sturdy frame, magnetic pieces and locking peg mechanisms. The same designer funded the first international roll out of this monster game in early May 2014 on IndieGoGo making it a popular collectible 80’s retro experience.
The warring forces are pretty obvious in Wacky Roll. A player can choose to play as Wacky: the spunky and smiling yellow circle of a hero or a player could control the different colored Monsters who are all trying to eat Wacky. Players are welcome to use rules variations to have individual players play as each of the ghosts but we found having more than just the two players wasn’t necessary and there wasn’t enough shared gameplay with the ghosts to keep multiple players entertained.
The rules are based on a simple roll and move mechanic. Wacky rolls the yellow die to move and at the beginning of the game moves twice before Monsters get to roll their move. Monsters aren’t guaranteed a turn, however, as first they must roll a number between 1-6 to exit their starting cage. Also the player controlling the Monsters may only move the Monster when their respective color comes up on the selection die, which is rolled at the same time as their movement die. This beginning part of the ghosts turn seemed unnecessary and boring but was a needed handicap for Wacky to give him a head start in collecting dots.
There are movement restrictions based on character type which most retro gamers will be familiar with: Wacky can move back and forth, change direction in one turn and can follow the paths to pop out at the opposite end of the screen while Monsters cannot follow any of these moves. Wacky has three lives and spawns on his marked circle each time he comes back and the Monsters’ placement remains unchanged. This back and forth movement continues throughout the entire game until Wacky or the Monsters win. Wacky wins if he collects all the dots. A dot is collected when Wacky passes over it and is marked with the market to show that. Monsters win if they catch Wacky 3 times.
Wacky Roll has two strengths as to why is is a good game: the first is that there is a built in love and fan base for 80’s retro arcade themed games like Boss Monster and Pixel Tactics. The second reason is that it is a very game accessible to people of all ages, gaming experience and incomes. It can easily go anywhere and the gameplay is simple, which means new players can learn how to play very easily; and unlike its arcade counterpart, you don’t need multiple quarters to play. Much like the abstract strategy games like chess and checkers, Wacky Roll fits nicely in that genre offering lots of replayability where the game is more about reading your opponent than changing the rules or gameplay.
Wacky Roll is a very quick back and forth game with high nostalgic value and after a winner is crowned, there isn’t any hard feelings because the level of investment in this game is minimal. The game is portable, nostalgic and reusable making it great for cons, family gatherings and other casual gaming events.