Jungle Speed review: A tricky balance of speed versus accuracy

Jungle Speed is a fast-paced card game that requires a tricky balance between speed and accuracy for victory. But was it a winner for us?

I was provided with a copy of this game for review purposes.

Jungle Speed is a rapid-fire card game that can be played by up to ten people. At its most basic level it is derived from that ages-old classic, Snap, but it’s far more complicated than that.

The aim of the game is straightforward enough: get rid of all your cards before anyone else can. The 80 cards in the deck feature a variety of designs and colours and players take it in turns to reveal the top card on their pile. As soon as two cards with the same design are turned over, this initiates a duel in which the first person to grab the totem pole in the middle of the playing area wins and passes their discarded cards to the loser. But here’s the twist. If a player mistakenly engages in a duel – and several of the cards are similar but not identical, so mistakes are easy to make – they pay for their error by receiving other players’ cards instead. This makes it a much trickier game than it appears at first sight.

There are also a number of special cards which change the rules of the game when turned over. These provided some essential variety to the play but also added a level of complexity that requires players to learn a few extra rules rather than just jumping straight in. It’s an issue that disappears once players have familiarised themselves with the game but it did prove to be an initial barrier. However, because the game is largely reliant on speed than skill or strategy it means that children can quickly compete on the same level as adults, which is a big selling point.

 

Despite some initial frustrations Jungle Speed provided plenty of laughs. The speed of play was fast and games lasted less than 15 minutes. And it was an interesting and different challenge for our nine and seven-year-old boys to realise that speed isn’t everything, a lesson they learned the hard way as the pile of cards in front of them grew in size.

Play requires a reasonable amount of space and a flat, steady surface to enable the totem pole to stand up. It’s not a game that can be easily played in the car or on a train, where the totem pole would constantly fall over.

Our overall verdict? Jungle Speed had a mixed reception. The need to be quick but not too quick provided a novel challenge. And there were plenty of laughs and howls of frustration when players realised they had erred. However, the gameplay was a bit fiddly and not complex enough tactically to hold the attention of a family of serious game-players for long.

So Jungle Speed was an interesting diversion for half an hour of light-hearted play. It’s certainly a good game for children who aren’t yet ready for more complex or strategy-based games. However, our kids love strategic games, so while Jungle Speed was fun we probably tried it a year too late.

In truth, I don’t think it’s a game we will pull off the shelf that often in the future – although it would make for an entertaining adult drinking game! However, it’s well worth a look for younger, less advanced game-players looking for something less serious with more of a fun element. How much longevity it has depends to what extent you have a need for something more complex and involved.

Jungle Speed is available from major retailers with a recommended retail price of £14.99.

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