Let’s not waste any time: Punderdome®, by Jo and Fred Firestone, is the worst game I’ve ever played. Ever. I play tested this with eight people last night who agreed to be guinea pigs for this review. As I opened the box and began reading the instruction card, I felt like we were following the first instructions perfectly:
In order to play Punderdome, you’ll need to gather at least two or more of your most pun-tolerant friends and/or relatives. Inform them they are about to play this game with you. Apologize later.
This is some of the worst marketing, but seriously honest in anticipating players’ reactions. (Games are meant to be enjoyable and fun, remember?) I apologized after making them endure just three rounds of misery before we moved on to other games.
Apparently some comedians have a live game show on which this “card game” is based. Perhaps that New York venue and atmosphere a more aptly suited for the awkward performer and audience participation in the creation of uncomfortable puns, but a home based game will find few homes and audiences willing to endure the test.
Never mind that the game doesn’t even come with everything you need to play, it’s horribly unoriginal and lacks the input of anyone with experience in game mechanics. The only redeeming quality, and by that I mean it is in no way redeeming, is that it’s simply a flagrant combination of two beloved games that have found their way into the hearts of many family gamers.
Imagine, if you will, Apples to Apples® and Scattergories® get sloshed at an office holiday party and a series of unfortunate events lands them both inside the same dark supply closet filled with a suffocating aroma of industrial cleaners and mildewed mops and rags. The space is cramped and the air toxic, but for these two debauchery-fueled household names it’s intoxicatingly arousing. Nine months and several lawsuits later, a convent receives a knock at the door. The elderly, bent abbess slowly opens the door to find something unrecognizable, yet familiar, swaddled in a stale blanket. Though she’s never had children and doesn’t know the first thing about raising an infant, she believes hiding it in the catacombs and educating it by candlelit solitude will properly prepare it for an introduction to twenty-first century society upon reaching adulthood. So, with all the love and compassion any parent would have, she presents to the world one summer’s day her gruel-fed child dressed in potato sack burlap and bare feet. Encouraged to make its own way in the world, it’s placed on a bus headed for Wall Street. Upon arrival, the child yells to the Goldman Sachs building, “Which office is mine?” It’s mostly ignored, but a few suits look on in wonderment, baffled by the child’s tenacity and naivety. It’s then that a neighboring homeless man feels compassion for the child, pulls out a five-gallon bucket and piece of cardboard, and sets up a makeshift desk and chair. He folds a piece of paper to make a nameplate for the cardboard desk and asks, “What should I write.” The child responds, “Punderdome.” And that’s where, to this day, the child sits participating in the global market.
My wife loves puns. She intentionally uses them more than anyone I know, and it is for her that I got this game to review. She’s also much more concerned about others’ feelings than am I when it comes to my reviews. I remind her that they are reviews of things, not their authors, and that people should have access to real, honest, and raw perspectives to help them in their potential purchasing decisions. (If you’re new to reading my reviews, there’s your heads-up on what to expect.) Still, she’d rather I not publish my little story above because it may hurt the comedians’ feelings. (Yup, you read that correctly.) However, upon reading the game’s play examples, she exclaimed, “These aren’t puns! … These aren’t even funny!” Exactly. The “punniest” person I know doesn’t even like the well thought out examples used to entice one to play the game. (Okay, she said two of them were clever even if not funny, but that she couldn’t take a whole game of them. She reminded me of this when I read this paragraph to her. See? More compassion.)
Please. Just say no. Friends don’t let friends play Punderdome®.
*I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.