UFO Alarm - kids game review
Review by Claire Paye, our 'What to do with the Kids' Official Reviewer
Alongside Amelia (9) and Charlie (6)
This game can perhaps be summarised as Ludo on steroids – apart from having no obvious home to find shelter in, except for the toilet – no, really. The object of the game is to be the owner of the last piece on the board, having avoided all your pieces being zapped up by the slightly erratic UFO spaceship. As you move your pieces randomly around the board, following instructions on the two dice - my favourite being ‘you are frozen with fear and miss one turn’ - your aim is to distance yourself as much as possible from the UFO. This tactic is of no use, however, if someone throws an alien and ray combination, whereby they can move the UFO to any position on the board and zap you up. Like us, however, the spaceship does have its off days so you may be spared if the zapping isn’t strong enough.
Although the game can be played by 2 people, it’s best played by 4 to create the maximum number of opportunities for running away or zapping. The minimum age of 6+ is fairly accurate, although a 5 year old would probably manage well, albeit without necessarily developing the optimum survival strategies. Bad loser alert – you can choose who you pursue when in control of the spaceship and sibling vendettas could get out of hand. Parents may have to choose carefully which child to pursue.
The game takes quite a bit of setting up initially. There are lots of stickers to be stuck onto pieces, and batteries (not included) have to be inserted into the alien spaceship. However, once it is all assembled, it is quick to get out and quick to start playing. The speed of the game depends very much on the rolls of the dice. Too many farmer + number combinations mean that you just move your pieces around, the UFO doesn’t move, so you end up shuffling around the board, trying to keep guess which way someone might move the spaceship next. The excitement comes when an alien is thrown, whereby the spaceship can be moved towards a piece, ready to zap it. We modified the rules to ensure that people didn’t stay in the safe place of the toilet too long.
One good feature of the game is that even if all your pieces have been zapped up, you can still throw the dice and have the opportunity to move the spaceship, perhaps satisfying a desire for revenge on whoever zapped you up. So the game keeps everyone involved until the last piece. Another positive feature is the opportunity for the peace-loving parent to even things out by pursuing different people’s pieces so no one loses all their pieces at once – unless they are all in a line, which was the rooky error made the first time we played.
There’s no doubt that the star of the show, and what sets this game apart from other board games, is the zapping alien spaceship. There’s such joy on the children’s faces when they land on other people’s pieces and press the zapping button! It’s a game for all ages which is quick to start playing and rewards those who develop self-preservation strategies, whilst offering revenge to those who are zapped up by an overzealous opponent.
Quite an achievement for a board game!