It's time for a closer look at one of the games we included in our Game Gift Guide this year - Loony Quest.
We reviewed a predecessor to it last year called Doodle Quest and also included it in our 2015 Board Game Gift Guide.
While Doodle Quest is a fun drawing game and great for practicing spatial perception skills, Loony Quest amps up both the fun and the skill level to great effect.
And Loony Quest much better deserves its title of "Quest".
Because in Loony Quest players have different goals to complete for experience points along the way - kind of like in a video game realm. The last level of each world also has a Boss for players to defeat.
So we know kids are going to love it.
How to Play Loony Quest
Loony Quest is a very simple game to understand and play.
To start, each player takes a character token and matching score marker, a dry-erase pen, a base board, and a transparency sheet. The bonus and penalty tokens are stacked face down nearby and the game is ready to go.
There are 7 Worlds in the game -- each comprised of 6 Levels. Players begin by choosing which World they'd like to play. Of course it only seems natural to begin at World 1 for their first game, but players can choose whichever they'd like.
They place Level 1 of the chosen World in the insert in the box and flip the sand timer over.
Players have 30 seconds to draw on their transparency sheet the shapes specified in the levels' Quest box. When the timer runs out, all players stop drawing.
Beginning with the player in the lead, in turn order, players place their transparency over the current level sheet. If the drawing is valid, the player gains and/or loses experience points (XP) as outlined in the Quest boxes.
To be valid, a drawing must follow these rules:
* Lines cannot touch or intersect.
* Cannot include drawings/lines that aren't outlined in the main Quest.
* Cannot include more drawings/lines than outlined in the main Quest.
As long as those are met, the player scores the indicated points and moves their score marker along the score track -- which is conveniently inside the game box.
Players cannot share spaces on the score track. So if a player were to move their score marker onto an occupied spot, they instead move their marker one more space forward.
If a player's drawing touches a bonus or penalty icon, they gain the corresponding tokens from the piles.
Once all players have scored the Level, the next Level sheet is put in place in the box with the orientation shifting 90 degrees and the next quest begins.
On all levels after the first, if a player has a prank token they can play it against an opponent before drawing begins. Likewise, if a player has a penalty token, it will take affect during the drawing phase.
After all 7 Levels are played, the game ends.
The player with the highest score wins!
Types of Quests
As you can tell, the basic flow and play of the game is very simple.
But what makes the game so fun are the challenges within each Quest.
Each level of the game is different and presents a new type of challenge. So we better take some time to describe the different type of quests players face during the game.
The type of quest is shown by an icon in the bottom right corner of each level. There will also be a number next to the icon that tells how many of those drawings a player should make. For example, if it says "3x" the player will make 3 such drawings on their sheet.
Link: This is represented by an icon showing a line with two dots at each end. Players draw a line on their screens that connect the two items shown in the quest targets.
Move: This is represented by an icon showing a line with a dot at one end and the line fading off the other end. Players must draw a line that begins somewhere on the item shown but where the line ends doesn't matter.
Loop: This is represented by an icon showing a circle. Player must draw an enclosed shape on their screens around the item shown in the quest target.
Mark: This is represented by an icon showing a bullesye with a dot in the center. Players must draw a dot on their screen that touches the items shown in the quest target.
The Quest box also indicates how many experience points each completed quest is worth.
Also in the Quest box are icons representing Side Quest targets -- which may include bonus Items or Traps. The XP next to the Side Quests will indicate whether the player who touches them either gains or loses XP.
The Side Quests can be a lot of fun and also make the Level more challenging. For example, players can't just draw all over the board because they must avoid their lines touching walls, bombs, or characters.
Can the whole family enjoy playing Loony Quest?
We listed the game in the Children's section of our 2016 Board Game Gift Guide, but don't let that fool you. Loony Quest is a great game for the whole family to play together!
The game includes enough transparency sheets and pens for 5 people to play the game.
While we're a family of 6, that would normally present a problem. But with our oldest two away from home, it means we can all play together as well as including grandma or a friend.
Loony Quest also doesn't take very long to play.
The timer for each level is only 30 seconds, so the drawing portion goes pretty quickly and everyone does it at the same time. It also doesn't take long for each player to place their sheet over the level to score their points.
So the game goes by pretty quickly and players can choose whether to move onto the next World and play another game. (Which is something they'll most likely want to do.)
Within each World, the levels get increasingly more difficult. So we can see that some youngsters may have a harder time. (Of course, some adults may not far much better.)
We also like that the player in the lead goes first. That way, when players behind move their marker forward, if they hit the same space as someone, they get to move one more space ahead.
The tricky part we found lies with the Pranks and Penalty tokens.
Not all Penalties are created equal and there's one that we absolutely despise -- the Mosquito.
That's because whoever gets the Mosquito played on them has to balance the token on the end of their marker while they draw. The rules also say that if the token falls off, the player must place it back on their pen before continuing.
Well, with only 30 seconds to draw, balancing that little token on the end of a pen while drawing is the most difficult feat in the game. In our games, that usually results in that player not getting any points during the level because they just can't keep the token on their pen.
So we opt to toss Mosquitos from the game.
The other penalties aren't so bad.
They include drawing without bending their elbow, holding the pen with just a thumb and pinky finger, drawing with their non-dominant hand, closing one eye, or drawing on the colored side of their base board.
So the penalties can be tough to deal with, but they add a fun element to the game.
Each of the 7 Worlds has their own colorful art that we love. And each presents some unique challenges that seem like they could be from video games.
For example, some levels have a key and a cage with points in it. Players must draw a line through both the key and the cage in order to claim those points (by unlocking the cage). Or players must draw a line through a colored button before going through that same colored barrier. It's like flipping a switch before the area can be opened.
How does Loony Quest score on our "Let's Play Again" game meter?
If you haven't guessed yet, Loony Quest scores high on our "let's play again" game meter.
It's a light game that's simple to set up, plays quickly and presents fun challenges.
The artwork of the different levels is also so engaging it's hard to not move onto the next world. When we finish one game, it's almost like the next world is calling out to us.
But the biggest reason it scores high is because it's so fun to play.
We may think we've got a good grasp on our spatial skills only to find out we're not as good as we think. So of course we want to keep going!
And even after completing the quests in each of the 7 worlds it's still fun to play again. No, the quests don't magically change, but we just like to see if we can do better the next time.
The rules may call for playing each level in a world in order, but that doesn't stop us from just picking sheets at random to play either. They're all fun.
And that's why it made our 2016 Board Game Gift Guide -- Loony Quest is a fun family game we highly recommend.
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