Jumanji – Board Game Review

This is the first of (hopefully) many board game reviews by My Creative Ramblings. The Jumanji film was a key part of my childhood. As odd as that sounds, the vision of Robin Williams yelling “Its a STAMPEDE!” and young Alan Parish cautiously reading “In the jungle you must wait until the dice read five or eight” is ingrained into my memory like they were real. I guess that’s the key thrill of nostalgia: getting to feel like a child again and re-live those timeless scenes. So how thrilled I was that on our trip to York that we stumble across Jumanji the board game for £15.

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The Box

The box art is gorgeous. While I’d have preferred if they’d have made an exact copy of the art from the film, this keeps in with the style. Sure, the monkey looks goofy, but that sort of adds to the charm! The colours are also great with those deep muddy reds, and the subtitle grabs you right in the nostalgia with the “A game for those who seek to find a way to leave their world behind”.

The Board and Pieces

The board is your typical all-in-one fold-out style. A lot of modern games now use a tile layout, where you build the board. These can be good, but I do prefer when its a bit simpler. No potential for missing pieces or trying to work out how the pieces fit in, just old fashioned ‘get out and go’.

The board art looks fun, if a tad crowded, with a jumble of coloured paths winding from each corner of the centre square to meet at a big green circle in the middle. This is a similar layout to that in the film, except more pop-out fun and less antiquated and classy. At the right side, you’ve got a deck space for the cards and a discard pile, while on the left hand side is a doomsday-countdown style mechanic. More about that later.

You play with classic-style plastic pieces, two plastic number die, a 6-second sand timer, a deck of cards, four picture die and a little rhino counter. Showing the price point a little, you had to put the pictures on the picture die yourself. However, this was easy to do and the instructions were clear, but it might be a little frustrating to do with kids who are eager to get playing. The cards are fine, they contain all of the little rhymes from the film, as well as some fresh ones. The art there is quite cute, also.

Gameplay Description

The game is 2-4 player, so we had a go with two people and again with four people.

Gameplay works that each person takes it in turn to roll the two number die and they move that number of spaces on the board. They can land on a rhino space (where they now can’t progress unless they roll an even number), a ‘5 or 8’ space (where they can’t progress unless their neighbour rolls a ‘5’ or ‘8’ – and if they fail they keep moving back a square until someone does), or a blank space.

The blank spaces are the majority of gameplay. On landing here, the player picks a card and reads a rhyme such as “They grow much faster than bamboo, take care or they’ll come after you”. The card will include a little symbol (either an open door, a pair of dice, an axe, a tennis racket, a rope, a raft or a sabre). The other players must roll either this symbol or a red image of a sand timer on their picture die before the 6-second timer runs out to ‘save’ the player. If all rolling players succeed, all rollers move their pieces forward. If one of the rolling players fail, the person whose turn it is moves back and the card is placed on the doomsday metre. If the doomsday metre is filled before someone reaches the middle, everyone loses. The winner reaches the middle on an exact roll count.

Thoughts on the Gameplay

Two players – Playing with two players is made more difficult, as when rolling the picture dice the red sand-timer picture doesn’t count. This can really speed up the danger metre as you practically lose every time – a little disheartening. There is another issue where some sections on the board mean that all players have to roll to match the picture, but who then watches the timer?

Playing with two people made it feel like the game was missing something. Perhaps a trivia card element, just something to change the quick swaps back and forth.

Four players – Playing with four players was better. The rhino really felt like a burden, as you get stuck for MUCH longer. Gameplay felt more complete, but there was still something missing. It definitely felt more like a game for kids, as its a simple mechanic that is easily learned. It was very much ‘pick up and play’.

Other points – Sometimes the instructions felt a little ill thought out. For example, you roll both die to move around the board. However, you have to roll an exact die roll to win. Good luck rolling a ‘1’ with two die! There is also an ‘another goal’ way to play, but it has a mere 27 words to explain how the rules for this would work and I’m none the wiser.

Final Rating

Box – 8/10
Board and pieces – 5/10
Gameplay – 2 players (5/10), 4 players (6/10)

In a few phrases: More for kids, nostalgia-heaven, cheap-price, decent art


Reviewed by Rebecca Panks


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