Take the charm and whimsy of Barrel of Monkeys and add the stress-inducing gameplay of Jenga and you’ve got Animal Upon Animal. It is a rare moment when something meant for kids is just as enjoyable (if not more) when viewed as/played by adults. With kids movies, something like this happens more often because adults can appreciate the innocence of the content and catch subtle references that are meant to engage parents– Pixar is great at this. In gaming, this feat is exponentially more rare. Not only are you engaged with the theme and content of the game but you have to be challenged by the gameplay. Have you played Chutes and Ladders as an adult? Talk about mind numbing! Animal Upon Animal takes a simple stacking mechanism and creates fun for all ages.
Animal Upon Animal is a dexterity game, meaning it challenges your motor skills and, most often, your hand-eye coordination. It’s no secret that most growing kids are clumsy, wobbly, and awkwardly mastering their body movement, so adults should be really great at this game, right? Pfffff, I’d say “maybe.”
Animal Upon Animal’s main gameplay revolves around stacking. Players are given an equal amount of wooden animal pieces with the goal of being the first to get rid of them all. At the center of the table is a large wooden crocodile piece and this is where the pile starts. On their turn, the player rolls the included red die. The die has 6 faces:
• One dot – place one animal on the stack.
• Two dots – place two animals on the stack.
• The crocodile – Take an animal from your stack and place it next to the mouth or the tale of the crocodile.
• The hand – choose an animal you have and give it to
another player to stack.
• The question mark – all other players determine which of your animals you have to stack next.
Unapologetic fun ensues as players try to find the best way to stack their animals and be rid of their pieces.
Published by HABA and made in Germany, Animal Upon Animal has high quality components. In the box are 29 animal pieces including monkeys, penguins, sheep, lizards, hedgehogs, snakes, and toucans. The animal pieces themselves are made of wood and shaped to be nice and thick, something a small child could easily handle and maneuver. The red die is larger than most dice, again with a small child’s hands in mind, and has rounded edges for a softer rolling experience. The pieces themselves seem to be just the right size for kids to handle; they aren’t too large to be obnoxious or too small to pose a choking hazard. That being said, Animal Upon Animal does have an official choking hazard warning and should not be played with children under 3 years of age.
I can’t stress enough the rarity of a game that can be played with a four-year-old and your buddies at a party. It takes a sense of humor for an adult to embrace the game, but the challenge is still there. Kids love the adorable animals, colorful peices, and funny perdicament of stacking a penguin on top of a hedgehog who is then riding a crocodile. For the hardcore gamers out there, Animal Upon Animal is great filler and an awesome way to break up the brain burning of other games you might be used too. For casual players looking for something fun to keep the mood light, this game is perfect. For those gamers that have little ones at home, this game is fun for the kids and continues to be so long after the kids have been put to bed.