The king of Arkadia has no heir. Oh, the horror! He is very, very old, so the traditional way of getting an heir is out of the question. And because he’s not a fan of adoption, he has organized a big tournament. Seven worlds, forty quests and five adventurers. Prize: the adventurer who survives these quests becomes the new heir of the throne and the new king of Arkadia. Are you ready for the challenge of your lifetime?
What do you get for your money?
You get 21 double-sided level sheets, 5 transparent player screens, 5 base boards, 5 erasable markers, 1 cardboard display base to put in the box, 1 sand-timer, 5 score tokens, 5 character tokens, 28 bonus tokens, 24 penalty tokens and the rules.
How do you play the game?
In Loony Quest you are brave adventurers and you are going on several crazy quests. The best adventurer becomes the new heir of the throne in the land of Arkadia.
Well, that’s the story at least, but what you are really doing is draw dots, lines and circles on your personal player screen and gain as much experience points as you can. There are seven world and every world, except the last, has 6 levels and you’ll have to defeat the big Boss in the final level of every world. The player with the most experience points wins the game.
Every player gets a player screen, a base board, an erasable marker and he or she chooses a character and receives the corresponding tokens.
Then the players choose a world, the first world is the easiest and the last one the most difficult, and once a world has been chosen, the drawing can begin.
Every level consist of a picture with XP icons, bonus icons, penalty icons and several obstacles, like walls or dangerous creatures with rockets attached to them.
There are basically four missions types. Namely, draw a line from one point to another, draw a line from one point to wherever, draw a ring around some objects, draw a dot on several objects.
The players then try to complete the quest for themselves by looking at the level sheet in the middle of the table and then draw a line, dot or ring on their transparent player screen. You have to do that within 30 seconds and afterwards you check your result by placing your screen over the level screen on the box.
You then get points for drawing over certain goals and XP symbols and get minus points for touching walls or creatures you shouldn’t have.
For touching Bonus and Penalty icons the you grab a corresponding token. Penalties are bad and you have to execute them during the next level. You can have Cramp and have to draw without bending your elbow, or draw with a Claw, your pinkie and thumb, or draw on a Vortex, the coloured side of the base board, or maybe you have to draw with your wrong hand or one eye closed.
Bonus tokens can be beneficial for you or might be bad for your opponents. They’re good, because they may give you more XP or give you a shield to help you against traps or obstacles. They may be bad for others, if you get a banana token, which you can throw on another player’s screen to make drawing more difficult, or it could be a mosquito token to give to another player, which he must place on his marker next time he draws, or it could be a broom token, so you can swipe a penalty token to another player when you get one.
So, you have to draw six times. Every time you place a new level sheet in the middle of the table, you turn the sheet a quarter-turn, so every player can sit right in front of it at least one time during the game. The player with the most points after six levels wins the game.
Not all people like drawing games, but although you also draw here, Loony Quest feels and, as a matter of fact, is a totally different from games you immediately think of when you hear the word ‘drawing game’. Games like, for instance, Telestrations or Pictionary.
It is more like a computer game. You go through different levels and end up facing the Boss at the end of the level.
At least that’s the atmosphere that they want to create, because, let’s face it, you don’t really fight monsters and beat up the bad guy in the end, you just draw lines and circles. But, thematic or not, the drawing of lines, circles and dots just works. It’s tense, exciting and therefore very fun. More about that later.
The great thing about this game is that the difficulty level within and between the different worlds goes up along the way. The first world is very easy. For grown-ups at least. It might still be a challenge for smaller children. So you think: ‘Is this it? This is a children’s game!?’ But then you find that the worlds get more difficult, with more interesting quests and challenges, and suddenly you find yourself ending the game with only two points. ‘A kid’s game you say?’
No, it is not a kid’s game, it is a very solid family game.
The challenges you find along the way are very original. You start with simple tasks as go from one corner to another and don’t tough the monster in the middle, or circle the fish, but don’t touch a few bricks, but you’ll end the game with quests like place dots on balloons the dragon is holding, but you can’t touch the dragon. How is that difficult? Well, you only can look at the picture for thirty seconds and then you have to place dots from your memory. Or you have to draw a line from three coloured objects to three similar coloured other objects. Simple, but you have to keep in mind that lines can’t cross, so you have to find a path so all lines can end up in the right spot. Plus, don’t forget you have to do it in thirty seconds and you have to end exactly on the object. Does your line end a bit off, too bad.
The last world is really a challenge. You have to be incredibly precise and think quickly to do well in this world. It’s a puzzle sometimes, a puzzle with a timer.
Like Mario going down into a secret sewer pipe, no computer game is complete without secret levels. The designers thought of something very cool. They’ve hidden, and very well I must say, a pixy in some levels and when you touch that pixy with your drawing you may go for glory in one the two special stages of this game. In both stages you have to flick your player token on the level sheet and when the token ends in a specified area, you get that amount of points.
Every world has its own clever ideas, but you probably also wonder about the replayability of the game? Because when you’ve completed a level, don’t you know exactly what to do next time? That’s not fun, is it?
Well it’s OK. Yes, you become better at it the more you’ve played a level, but you have to play it a lot to become flawless. And if you have played it so much more than your opponents, why don’t you try to win the game with a permanent Penalty token. Let’s see how good you are when you have to draw with the Claw all the time!
That brings us to the ‘take that’ element of the game, the Bonus and Penalty tokens. Some people will like it, some people won’t. But I think it adds to the fun of this light and easygoing game. It’s just funny to see someone struggling with one eye closed and a Mosquito on the back of his marker. It’s even funnier when it happens to yourself.
Loony Quest is more about the experience than it is about keeping score, so I think everyone will find the penalties no problem at all.
Flavour and Theme
I perhaps came across a bit sceptical about the theme, with the ‘you don’t really fight monsters and beat up the bad guy in the end, you just draw lines and circles’ remark, but despite the fact that I never felt like I was beating up monsters in the game, I do think they succeeded in creating a computer-game or mobile-game-like experience.
The game looks great. It’s very colourful and comical, as you can see, and it really invites you to play.
Quality of the components
The components feel like they can take a beating. The plastic finish make them child and idiot-proof. Ideal for a party game. The box is also used as a display and as the score board. I like that.
I already hinted that I like the game and I really do. It’s incredibly fun for the whole family. It’s about being the most skillful player and dealing with the challenges you face. It’s just hilarious to see when a player just messes up, hitting wall after wall and totally misses every XP icon in the picture. It’s just funny. It’s also very funny to find yourself struggling with the Mosquito or trying to draw a straight line with your wrong hand and a straight elbow.
I therefore recommend Loony Quest as a party game or a nice relaxing family game.
As for me, I would have nominated it for a Spiel des Jahres and not only recommended it, as it is now, because I think that Loony Quest is the perfect game to pull people away from behind their mobile phones and place them at the gaming table to play a game with their friends or family.