The current tabletop game renaissance has opened the doors to a lot of different game experiences. There are games that run via app, games that are themed for a variety of obscure historical periods and dozens of games related to favorite media properties. Family games get something of a bad rap from hardcore board game fans, but a game that people can play with their kids shouldn’t be overlooked in getting the next generation of gamers primed and ready to play. I found a game that not only plays well with kids but elicits all sorts of giggles and guffaws from the adults at the table without the shocking hilarity of Cards Without Humanity. That game is Sparkle*Kitty and it is coming October 3rd from Breaking Games.
Once upon a time, the Evil Queen Sparkle*Kitty trapped a bunch of princesses in towers. The only way to escape the towers is by combining worlds in silly combinations to break free and escape. Each player takes the role of one of these diverse princesses. Players get a hand of cards with colors, words, and symbols on them, as well as a tower built with face-down cards in front of them. The princesses take turns playing cards that match the color or symbol of the cards on top of the discard pile while saying the word combination out loud. It’s a real test for players to say things like “Piggy Sparkle”, “Kitten ‘Splosion” or “Twinkle Vortex” with a straight face. Players can also play cards that match the ones on the pile out of turn by calling out “Double!” before the phrase, making it a “Double Froggy Go-Go”, for example. Whenever a player clears their hand or drops a double, they pull a card from their tower. The princess that pulls the last card from her tower wins.
The game plays like a mash-up of Uno and Epic Spell Wars of The Battle Wizards: Duel at Mt. Skullzfyre. Designer Manny Vega keeps the basic game simple but includes a few optional rules to spice things up, like Dark Magic cards that require a bit more memorization and a penalty for princesses that curse while kids are at the table. Artist Leah Artwick gives each of the princesses a distinct personality to the point where nearly everyone who plays has an instant favorite.
There are 10 princesses in the game, though only 8 can be used in a single round. The princesses don’t affect gameplay, but it can be fun to discuss why certain players picked a certain princess. Two more princesses are available with a little detective work. Princess Palette is available directly from Breaking Games, and Princess Rebel is available by ordering the game through your FLGS (that’s Friendly Local Gaming Store.)
The game plays in about 30 minutes or so, but what really struck me about every time I played was the immediate buy-in from players. It didn’t matter if I played it with 8-year old kids, 30-year-old gamers or 50-year-old bikers. As soon as you said they were princesses stuck in a tower, the person picked their princess with a smile and they were off. The silly combination of words works to cause giggle fits and mad scrambles to write down band names. Sparkle*Kitty is a great choice for an appetizer game on game night or something to play with kids to teach them colors, words and that every type of princess kicks ass.
Oops, sorry, kicks butt. I’ll go add a card to my tower now.
Feature Image Credits: Rob Wieland
Rob Wieland is an author, game designer and professional nerd. He writes about kaiju, Jedi, gangsters, elves, Vulcans and sometimes all of them at the same time. His blog is here, his Twitter is here and his meat body can be found in scenic Milwaukee, WI.