Those poor, small, sort-of-hairy ratites! As they waddle around they can’t help but longingly gaze towards the heavens observing all the other birds floating on the air. Oh, the beauty. Oh, the gracefulness. Oh, the freedom! They can be content with their natural state. But it would be nice to have a vacation. Just once. Get away from New Zealand for a few days. And they have an ingenious plan. Stow away in a crate of fruit. Kiwi fruit, of course! No one will know the difference – because they’re spelled the same! Of course, there’s this little matter of getting into the crates…
How To Play
Players help these poor flightless birds overcome their evolutionary deficiencies and turn them into real Flying Kiwis by launching them from a simple ramp and catapult! If you can group them in the crate just right, or get the most on top of all the stacks, you’ll earn your flightless wings!
Each ornithological helper begins with ten kiwi discs and a catapult. At any agreed upon signal (does anyone know a kiwi call?) everyone furiously begins launching their kiwis. Well, maybe with some calculation and care. Because you want them to land inside the divided crate. Fling them too hard and, not only will they fly too far away, but you could put someone’s eye out!
If one doesn’t make it into the box, too bad…that kiwi stays grounded and won’t make it out of Auckland. Not just that, but if one doesn’t land completely in a compartment, just resting on the edges, it doesn’t count as making it inside anything. If a player manages to group four of his/her kiwis in a square or straight line, he/she wins immediately. Otherwise, the game ends after everyone’s bird has flown the coop. Players collect stacks from each compartment in which their discs sat on top. Count them up and the ornithologist with the most birds in hand wins!
Just More Angry Birds?
I’ve probably mentioned before the wonderfully diverse array of game types that makes this hobby so accessible. If I haven’t, let me say it here. There is a wonderfully diverse array of game types that really makes this hobby accessible and inviting, with various designs fitting all different manner of circumstances. Here on the Dragon, just within the past month, we’ve reviewed heavy Euros Barcelona: The Rose of Fire and Terraforming Mars, along with the fast-paced shoot ‘em up tactical game Adrenaline, family gems Veggie Garden and Histrio, the highly contentious Saga of the Northmen, as well as the extremely light and silly Balloon Pop!
Now to this just as seemingly frivolous Flying Kiwis – a game about defeating biology with physics!
And, yes, we review dexterity games, too. These often raucous designs are a unique category in the hobby. They’re accessibly memorable experiences appropriate to gearing up for a game night, winding down from one, being goofy or simply getting a lot of people unfamiliar with the hobby involved at the table. And while generally geared toward accommodating a broad range of ages – like all of them – one practical downfall is that it necessarily doesn’t, because older audiences prove more skilled at manipulating whatever physical pieces are involved.
Flying Kiwis doesn’t topple into that pitfall. In fact, it leans more to pleasing younger gamers, but will certainly tickle anyone’s feathers. There’s not much to it and, well, that’s the point.
The catapults are the gimmick here and they work well – or at least as equally finicky for each age group. They’re pre-assembled, which is a major benefit, and simple to operate. After some warm-up launches you’ll have the general feel of them and you don’t have to worry too much about aiming, unless you want to fire from across a long dining room table with all of the leaves in it. Very young kids will struggle, but that’s mostly true for designs across the genre. First grade and up should prove adept after a little practice.
That said, there is a lot of leeway given to the distance that your group thinks appropriate and fair…or more fun and challenging. For the fast and furious real-time action game, I wouldn’t recommend a long way away. You’re sure to get caught up in the frenzy and start rocketing them into the next room. Of course, that has its allure, too. But to keep things compact and relatively simple, it’s more effective to stay within a couple feet. Aiming in this little romp is, um, fairly imprecise. Especially since the discs often ricochet and careen off the dividers inside the box once they make contact. Increasing the opportunities to create that group of four is more in line with the game’s spirit – and easier to accomplish closer in, though still easier said than done. Barring that, stealing another player’s stack by flicking one of your discs on top is hilariously rewarding.
If you wanted to ramp up the difficulty, show off your marksmanship or slow things down a bit (especially for kids getting used to it…or me, if I’m being honest) you could play Flying Kiwis turn-based. That would lend itself more to the long distance game – and likely increased competition. It also lets you savor the session, especially with jibes and boasts, whereas the free-for-all can end in a flash!
The other potential drawback to dexterity games is staying power and Flying Kiwis doesn’t necessarily rise above that issue. Some in the category have proven perennial favorites like Animal upon Animal and Pitch Car. Others have made a recent splash like Flick ‘Em Up and Ice Cool by offering much more involvement. Plainer, faster and with a more average gimmick, the design may not have the repeated pull of other titles. It’s too simplistic to make any substantial session out of. Yet it’s repetitiveness may wear thin for some gamers after a string of multiple plays for which it’s best suited.
The box as the playing area is also well designed and constructed, working exactly as intended. The catapults fit perfectly underneath, as assembled, when done. There’s room for the kiwi discs, too, unless you’d rather just stack them in the compartments like a real crate of fruit. It’s all very practical and there’s not even a lousy insert I have to throw away!
Dexterity games are designed for accessibility, charm and levity. Of course, there’s always a place for some skill, too. Flying Kiwis covers those bases with a whimsical premise and solid design gimmick. While it may run it’s course quicker than others in the category, it certainly entertains, provides some laughs and lets you break out that good-hearted competitive nature. And anything that gives the gift of flight to these long-suffering aviaries is okay in my book!
Blue Orange Games provided a review copy of Flying Kiwis for this review.