Jenga Boom Review

by on May 18, 2013

I expect that most people will be aware of at least the basic rules or the original Jenga, the wooden tower game that tasks players with removing the blocks one at a time until the tower falls over, naming one of the players as the loser. So how then, do you take a game that everyone and their mother has had some experience with and change it enough to make it an entirely new gaming experience, while keeping most of the rules and gameplay elements intact? You attach a timer to it and allow it to cause even more chaos, of course. That’s exactly what Hasbro has done with the appropriately mentioned Jenga Boom.

There have been quite a few games over the years that have made use of the stressful element of surprise as part of their gameplay. Pop-Up Pirate had the player sticking swords into a barrel until one of them caused the aforementioned pirate to “Pop-Up” and Buckaroo famously had players hanging items onto the poor donkey until he’s bucked and kicked everything off; only the player didn’t know when it was going to happen. This is what adds to their enjoyment: the element of surprise – although the fact that something/a lot of things are going to go flying when it happens is probably a lot of the appeal for children too.

Jenga have released Jenga Boom to add this element of surprise to their otherwise slow-paced wooden tower game. With this new version of the game, the player places the tower on top of a device which looks like a pack of dynamite, pulls the cords and then has to perform the usual tasks while listening to the ticking of the clock, never knowing then the cord is going to snap closed and “blow up” all of the dynamite, sending the wooden blocks toppling to the floor.

There’s no denying that, in its original form, Jenga can be a pretty boring game. Sure, it’s fun to watch wooden blocks falling to the floor, and there are many different ways to spice up the proceedings, but in its base form there isn’t much to the gameplay other than pulling the blocks out and waiting for one of the players to make the tower topple. The addition of the timed element in Jenga Boom adds a little to the gameplay, but if you weren’t a fan of Jenga before, for whatever reason, you’re not going to find too much here with this new version to sway that decision. It’s nice to see something a little bit different, but at the end of the day, you’re still just removing wooden blocks from a tower and waiting for them to fall down – it just happens a little bit faster now.

If you get a chance to play Jenga Boom then it’s worth a play, especially seeing as the games only last as long as the “fuse” does – which is about 30 seconds – but if you already own a version of the game, or have no interest in it, then there’s really nothing new. The fact that the game takes longer to set up than it does to play will also be a huge turn-off for people and will probably single-handedly ensure that it doesn’t get played more often. A nice attempt at changing an old formula but, at the end of the day, how much can you really change a game that centres around a wooden tower eventually falling over? Not very much, no matter how quickly that happens.

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