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TGN Review: Monkeys Need Love Too from Topwise Games

TGN Review: Monkeys Need Love Too from Topwise Games

Topwise Games has just launched a Kickstarter campaign for Monkeys Need Love Too, their card game of simian escape. Poo and perfume flinging is mandatory.

The fellows over there sent me a preview copy to test out (and it can be yours if you read on).

So grab your animal cage keys and put a clothespin on your nose, it’s time for another TGN Review. This time it’s Monkeys Need Love Too.

In Monkeys Need Love Too, you play as animal rights activists that are sneaking into a perfume testing lab in order to break out as many captive monkeys as possible. The only problem is that all the perfumes have side effects (which generally correspond to the perfume’s name) that are causing the monkeys to act not so… monkey-like. The player who escapes (without getting caught and sent to jail) with the most monkeys wins.

While the box that was sent to me was a preview copy, and the contents may change slightly, depending on how the Kickstarter goes, I must say that the quality of the cards are pretty good. The cards have good rigidity, and have a gloss coating that makes them easy to shuffle, but not so slick that they just fly off all over the place. If the final product is this quality, it’ll be a good product.

The game is broken down into 2 decks of cards. They’re the Fling Poo deck and the To the Trees deck. There’s also 10 extra banana cards for if you need to “make change” during the course of the game.

The Fling Poo deck contains 40 monkeys (each one is unique), 70 banana cards (12 each numbered 1-5, plus 10 “make change” cards), and 50 action cards (12 pink, 4 alarm, 34 red). Of the 40 monkeys, 21 of them have a special ability on the card (such as draw an extra card during your turn, or some cards can’t be played on them, for example) while the other 19 don’t have any special rules. Each monkey also has a banana in the upper right corner indicating how many bananas you must feed them each turn in order to keep them around. Red action cards are played on your turn against opponents. They do things like steal monkeys, cause monkeys to fight, or make your opponent lose bananas. The pink cards are counter-cards to the red ones, cancelling them if played against you. The 4 alarm cards (titled “No Coco, No!!!”) cause the game to go into the To the Trees phase, which is the final card draw (most likely) before the game ends and scores are totaled.

The To the Trees deck has 22 cards in it (2 each of 11 different cards). These are final obstacles you must get through in order to escape with your monkey horde. Several let you out easily, while others might require you to have some extra bananas around, and others will even send you to jail (not for real, of course).

Game play is rather straightforward. Shuffle the two decks and set them where everyone can get at them. Everyone draws 5 cards from the Fling Poo deck. The person who most recently ate a banana goes first. On your turn, if you don’t have 5 cards in hand, you draw up to 5. Immediately play any bananas you have in hand in front of you, redrawing to continue to fill up your hand so you have 5 cards. Then you can play 1 monkey card and 1 action card (though you don’t have to). Monkeys simply play in front of you. Action cards have clear instructions on them about their function (for red cards) or how they cancel out other cards (for pink cards). After you’ve played (or chosen not to play), you have to feed the monkeys you’ve got in front of you. Simply subtract a number of bananas from in front of you in order to keep the monkeys happy (and that’s why they have “change bananas” cards. For example, if you have 2 bananas worth of monkeys you need to feed, but only have a 5 banana card, you’d get 3 bananas back as change). If you don’t feed a monkey, they’re discarded. Finally, you can discard as many cards as you want from your hand. You don’t draw back up until the start of your next turn. So be warned of leaving yourself with an empty hand.

Play progresses playing monkeys and actions until someone plays one of the “No Coco, No!!!” cards, at which point play turns to the To the Trees phase. There, simply draw the top card from the To the Trees deck and follow the instructions. If you escape, great! Count up your monkeys. The one with the highest “rescued monkey” total wins. If you go to jail (not really, just in the game), well… there’s always next game.

Monkeys Need Love Too is one of those games that lives in your gaming backpack to be taken out when you want a quick, lighthearted game to kill some time at the LGS. The box says games take 15-60 minutes, but in my experience, most are in the 15-20 minute range. It falls into that classic “screw your neighbor” type of game where you can really kick someone when they’re down and so someone in the lead one turn may be racing to catch up the next (and occasionally you can get “banana screwed,” which is like being “mana screwed” in Magic, but… you know… with bananas, where you just can’t seem to find one to save your life… or the life of your monkeys, really). The game mechanics are really simple, so teaching it to anyone shouldn’t be a problem. The learning curve is small, so going from “I’ve never played this before” to “7th level Zen Master of Monkeys Need Love Too” is a pretty short trip (like, 2-3 turns at most). The art is cute and colorful, and there is a lot of unique artwork in the game.

Go have a looksee at their Kickstarter campaign. If you like the game, pledge for a copy.
Or, if you feel lucky (punk), comment below on what you think of the game and the review and you could win the one they sent to me.