It's always nice to be able to recommend a great new family game, and that's exactly what Loony Quest is. 2-5 players can sit down to this and the box says the game is for players 8-years-old and up – but I think that kids a few years younger could easily play, as long as they don't stress out too much about failure. Because you gonna fail a LOT in this little firecracker. It's a game about drawing lines and circles and dots to complete quests, and it's great, great fun.
Okay, so here's the deal. The game comes with 40 levels and 2 bonus stages. “Levels” are printed on sheets that are placed onto the box to form a central board. These levels look like little screens from platform games, and are collected into worlds with familiar themes. There's the desert world and the jungle world and the ice world, and so on. Are you aware of computer games or video games? These levels are like levels from those things.
Here's the cool bit. The level is in the centre of the play area. Let's say we have World 1-1 out there. Each level has a “quest”, which might tell you you need to travel from the start point to the end point in one movement, without hitting any blocks or baddies. Or it might tell you that you need to “shoot” certain enemies. Completion of the quest gets you points, while obstacles and traps take points from you.
You have your own little white board. And on that white board you have a transparent sheet. A sand-timer is flipped, and you have 30 seconds to draw your path through the level on your own transparent sheet with an ink marker. Now, this might sound easy. You're just looking at a picture that sits a couple of feet away from you, visualising your path through the picture, and recreating that on a sheet with a pen. That's all. That's it.
And yet. And yet, what follows is a hilarious sequence of realisations – most of them focused on how shit you are at things that look simple.
You draw. Your tongue is sticking out. You are looking at one image and imagining your path through it. You are steadying your hand, guiding your pen up up up up around left a bit left a bit up there through that up along avoid this down up there. THERE. THERE. That looks good.
After everyone has made an attempt, each sheet is taken in turn and laid upon the level illustration. This is where you'll find your ink-pen path, which in your head was straight and true, sending you through blocks and baddies more times than you would ever believe. This is where you'll find out that the five dots you made on your sheet, each of them perfect headshots in your mind, missed every enemy by a mile. Or maybe you'll discover that your hand, this time, has been guided by angels – when that ink-pen illustration sits upon the level just so, everyone at the table is impressed. “OOOH, LOOK AT YOU! WELL DONE!” It feels like you've really knocked a flyer right out of the park.
A full game of Loony Quest lasts about 20 minutes. That 20 minutes will allow you to move through one world, one set of levels, right through to the last boss fight. Boss fights ask you to do stuff like drawing lines from bombs to a big baddie, with any stray line that hits an obstacle WIPING YOU OUT. You won't believe how easy it is to draw, with your own hand and pen, your arse getting handed to you.
There's more. There are things on each level that deliver extra stuff into your hands if you hit them. If you draw a line through a key and hit a locked cage with that same line, you'll get points. If you hit a bonus icon, or a penalty icon? Well...
Bonuses first. If you hit a bonus you draw one of the little cardboard chits that come with the game. When you flip it over you can find additional points, shields that will protect you from obstacles, and HAHAHAHAHA!
Get this, yo. A MOSQUITO. And you can give this little mosquito to another player. And they have to balance it on the end of their pen while they draw. HAHAHAHAHAHA!
Get this, yo. A BANANA SKIN. And you can flip this banana skin onto another player's board and they can't draw through it. They need to avoid it. HAHAHAHAHAHA!
Penalty icons force you to draw penalty tokens. And these tokens can make you draw with one eye shut, or with a completely straight arm, or with your weak hand, or with your hand like a claw.
Get this, yo. You might see another player, at some point, having to draw their way through a level with one eye shut, a straight arm, a hand shaped like a crab and a mosquito balanced on the end of their pen. While avoiding a banana.
Loony Quest is a brilliant game. BRILLIANT. The core idea, the visualisation and drawing, is one of those cool things that gets everybody interested. There's a lot of content – the levels are all replayable, and can't really be learned. After every turn, the central box is rotated, so you're always drawing different stuff from different angles. And you're always trying to improve your score.
I love the video game theming of the game. The art is gorgeous, and the components are all top notch. It's just a brilliant little box of fun, and I was hugely impressed.
Here's a nice little video to explain the game. I bet you can't resist.