What’s more adorable than monkeys? Monkeys in bumper cars. Spin Monkeys is a game with deep, deep backstory —you are a monkey in the jungle that stumbles upon a carnival. You and your monkey friends swing into the bumper cars and start sliding and slamming around the arena floor snatching up fruit. Ok, so clearly this is a light, family style game with very little “story” but where the heft is lacking the gameplay pulls ahead.
The game board is covered with apples, oranges, and bananas (worth 1, 2, and 5 victory points respectively). The goal of the game is to collect as much fruit as possible and have the highest score when there is only one type of fruit left on the board.
Players place their monkeys around the edge of the arena, draw a hand of 5 movement cards, and prepare for mayhem. As a game for 2–8 players, mayhem may not even be the right word when playing more than 2 players —perhaps a controlled chaos? Each turn players play a movement card facedown. Movement cards indicate a degree of rotation that the bumper car will take before it progresses forward on the floor. For example, the purple monkey might lay a 45˚ card and the red monkey might play a 315˚ card. Both players reveal their cards and find out that the red monkey goes first (higher degree), rotates it’s car, and moves across the board collecting any fruit along the way. Then the purple monkey does the same. The game gets interesting (and confusing at first) when cars start bumping into each other or hitting walls. When bumps occur players steal fruit from each other, send cars spinning in random directions (drawing a movement card from the top of the deck), and their car’s momentum gets setback a bit. As turns progress, each monkey moves more and more spaces at a time (gaining speed), until they hit a wall or another player and lose some of that speed (discarding movement cards). The chaos comes to a close when their is only one type of fruit remaining in the arena.
The physical game itself consists of a game board, movement cards, and a ton of cardboard chips. All pieces are of quality construction and showcase playful graphics. One issue that can easily be fixed in future prints of this game is to up the color contrast on the fruit tokens. The apple token can be easily mistaken for the orange token (the red of the apple just isn’t as saturated as it could be). As players collect bananas, banana peels replace them on the board and then create hazards for future cars that might drive by. These chips could differ a bit more from bananas, it is decently obvious that its a peel but perhaps just a hint of color in the background might help with some of the visual confusion amongst all the chips.
Spin Monkeys is a fun party game for families and light-hearted friends. It takes a little bit to setup with all the chips and color coordination but once you get going there are few hitches in gameplay. You might grab the rule book a few times here and there to understand what happens when you bump another player or hit a wall, but once that sinks in the game just coasts. In a 2 player setting, the game tends to drag a bit and easily takes the full 45 minutes that the game box suggests. More then 2 players, Spin Monkeys really shines and that “controlled chaos” takes over.