Admit it. I don’t care how old you are. You know you can’t resist them. Those cheap, stretchy, flingy, ubiquitous sticky toys have always entertained you. Somehow. You don’t know why, of course. Perhaps you just like to throw them against the wall for aimless amusement? Or maybe latch onto someone’s hair as a prank? Or more utilitarian, grab a piece of paper just out of reach across the table? Whatever the reason, their practical and logical application has been the toy’s chief limitation. Until now!
How To Play
In Sticky Chameleons you are one of the eponymous lizards out to nab the plumpest snack. If you’ve ever wanted one of those famously cool ballistic tongues, look no further! In this dexterity exercise, you’ll be flinging versions of the popular kids sticky toy as projecting muscle avatars to snatch bug tokens!
Thirty-six insect tokens of seven various shapes and sizes representing seven different creepy-crawlies are randomly and loosely spread about the table. The only rule is to make sure that none overlap. Six types of bugs are edible treats while wasps prove a little too spicy. While your tongue may be strong, your buds are a little more delicate.
Except for those yellow jackets, each insect specie also comes in one of six colors. A bug’s type and color are important. On a round, one player rolls two dice to determine the plumpest treat. One die corresponds to the insect specie and the other a color. Players simultaneously identify where the matching token is and launch their sticky tongues at it! The first to snatch it with their viscous hydrostat and remove it by hand earns a yummy token.
Snatching other bugs my mistake is okay, but you can’t take them off until the round is over, which makes it harder to successfully fire back at the intended target. Meanwhile, if you’ve successfully stuck the juiciest snack, other tongues can lash out at your yours hoping to knock it off before you can remove it! However, if you snatched a wasp at the same time you entrap the treat, it stings you and you don’t earn the yummy token. The first one to collect five yummy tokens wins, blushing red with victory while the others turn green with envy.
We like to cover silly games here at iSlaytheDragon (Exhibit A). And after hearing how to play Sticky Chameleons it takes all of a nanosecond to understand that you’re in for a cute, novel and unabashedly silly time. This title proudly struts into the “it’s more of an activity rather than a game” territory and that’s wonderful. And why hasn’t anyone thought of this before? It’s so simple, yet so brilliant! When was that moment that Théo Rivière thought, “Hey, what if we use these to do this and sell it as a game?” What an amazing epiphany! This is a great hobby, isn’t it?
That said, its silliness is well accentuated by the design’s recognition and speed elements. Rather than just a straight-forward dexterity exercise – which would get boring rather quickly – the race to spot and snatch the plumpest insect as soon as you get those dice results makes for a great competitive environment. Yet being the quickest only helps if you’re also accurate! The stress to out-do the rest of your lounge (that’s the name for a group of lizards…seriously) leads to mistakes, chaos and laughs. Efforts to whack tokens off other players’ tongues before they can extract them gleefully exacerbates all of those characteristics.
It’s also rudimentary thematic, if you think about it. Chameleons have a wonderful natural advantage with that ballistically projecting tongue. Yet their food is extremely quick and nimble, so what good is such an asset without possessing just as keen identification and reflex traits? Survival (aka victory) goes to the fittest…or the quickest, in this case. A stretch, you think? Theme in a game where you fling plastic sticky toys at chits on a table, you say? Yes, I just went there!
The wasps add another lively wrinkle. Beyond the speed and recognition aspects, these vicious pests tack on a little extra challenge. The ironic part is that you never really notice them until you’re stung! In the lightning fast attempt to find and grab the plumpest insect before any other, you don’t have time to stop, identify any nearby wasp and adjust your flinging tongue accordingly. In even the two seconds to make such a mental calculation, the target has vanished in a flash, the dietary victim of a hungry reptile. Sure, the round may be a wash if the same player nabs both. But the game is seriously quick enough that it’s just humorous, as opposed to a session road bump. So it’s not a design issue, just something that’s fun to get stung with…or more accurately, something fun to watch others get stung with.
I can actually think of two problems with Sticky Chameleons – neither of which I think you will encounter with any other game on the market! First, you may think a cardboard bug wouldn’t fly, but these do! Not all tokens end up sticking to tongues. Others are violently pushed around and sent flying off the table, under things and down air vents. It’s a mess. Make sure you gather all the errant bugs before starting the next round. And doubly-check your inventory before putting the game away!
I’m also not certain how well the tongues will wear over repeated plays. I know those toys quickly collect hair and dust and other minute detritus which reduces their tackiness in little time. The advantage here is that you’re generally playing on a cleaner surface, so that will help. Although this title adds a new dynamic to the “snacks or no snacks” debate at the gaming table. And the rulebook suggests rinsing them with water to clean them. That has to be a first in rulebook writing. Still, that doesn’t return them to their brand new condition.
Despite its novel hilarity, I’m not claiming your group will sit down to multiple rounds into the wee hours of the morning. Like Popeye the sailorman, it is what it is and that’s all that is. A whimsical filler great for winding down, as a causal ice-breaker or to make fools of your friends. It will find greater longevity with kids and families, I presume. Yet like another goofy title I enjoyed playing and reviewing (also by Iello and also utilizing a popular kids toy), limiting it to that setting would be unfortunate. This is a wild and crazy experience to enjoy now and then, even if you look like an idiot while playing. Actually, especially because you’ll look like an idiot!
So, yes, the points don’t matter. Unless you really want them too. But if that’s what you’re worried about, you shouldn’t be playing Sticky Chameleons, because you’re a stuck up gamer. This title is about letting loose. Simple flicks of the wrists quickly turn into pell-mell bedlam as the tongues and the bugs and the laughs fly. It owns its rip-roaring and uproarious childish nature as a badge of honor and dares you to play it without having a blast.
Iello provided a copy of Sticky Chameleons for this review.