You may have had one of those dreams where you’re in a magical land of ice cream and gasp in surprise that they have ridiculously cute faces. Well, it’s not a dream anymore, thanks to this simple, but colourful and adorable card game from Helvetiq: Kawaii!
What's The Game Like?
The aim of the game is to collect as many ice creams of your “favourite” shape and/or flavour as you can. The player with the most points after three rounds wins. There are also special cards, like cherries, which give you one extra point, and “Closed Shop Signs”, which take a point away from you, but gaining three of them instead gives you three points; a nice touch of risk/reward.
Players must turn cards over and place them in front of themselves, slightly offset from one another so that all cards are visible. If a player spots a card pile that has their “favourites” on it, whether it be an opponent’s or their own, then they must quickly place one of their two heart tokens on it and say “Kawaii” to add it to their score pile. However, if two players try to take the same pile, the fastest one takes it, or if they both take it at the same time, whoever takes the pile is decided with a rock, paper, scissors game (a novel way of deciding the winner!) It’s important to note that tokens are given to the player’s opponent once their pile is stolen, or when a player is taking their own pile, the token is discarded. Be warned: a player can only play cards and take piles with one hand.
The player who most recently ate an ice cream goes first. After each round, a player gains a point for each card they have with their favourite ice cream shape or flavour, and cards with both together give you two points. A round ends once all players have turned all their cards; thus, their score pile is added up, while also counting the remaining heart tokens. The player with the least points at the end of a round is the first to play in the next round.
There is also a more difficult version of the game, which plays exactly as normal, but cards are played directly on top of each other so that the ones underneath are no longer visible, and you will need to remember which ones are in which pile. This adds a fun, new layer of challenge if you want to make the game more difficult for adults or older kids.
Is The Game Any Good
The game is straightforward and easy to pick up and is a mix of luck, skill, patience, and reflexes. Although the game itself is very simple, there is some form of strategy required when playing with multiple players. Should you wait for a high scoring pile and risk other players stealing it? Is it worth using up all your heart tokens? Should you risk going for all three closed shop cards for bonus points and possibly end up with only two? Make the right decisions at the right time if you want to steal delicious treats from your opponents and make their scores melt away like ice cream in the sun.
There is a fun element of ‘take that’ in the game that can be both satisfying or frustrating depending on whether you take what you want, or it gets stolen from you. However, the rounds are so quick, and the fact that you play three of them in each game gives players the chance to make a comeback if they lose out earlier on. This makes it a good game for children as you can play several games, and losing now and again won’t spoil the overall fun.
However, playing with only two players isn’t as much fun because there is less potential for strategy, and it’s too easy to use up both of your hearts too early, so the game box recommends that you play the game with around 3–5 players.
Kawaii is a lightweight, basic card game, so it would be good as a filler or warm-up in family game nights. According to the instructions, each game is meant to last up to 15 minutes, and since the cards are random every time, it makes the game worth replaying. If you’re short on time but you want light-hearted, endearing entertainment, this could be the game for you.
Here's The Components
This game comes in the form of a lovely, compact, colourful box full of 55 ice cream cards and 10 small red heart tokens made of wood. As it says on the box (“Kawaii” meaning ‘cute’ in Japanese), the simplistic character designs are, fittingly, very cute and are based on real-life types of ice-creams (‘Softy’, ‘Lolly’, ‘Twindo’, etc.). I’m sure everyone will have their favourite character; mine’s ‘Speedy’ because he has a moustache and an enigmatic expression on his face.
There are five each of favourite shape and flavour cards, with the flavour cards having their own simple but unique patterns (for example, the brown card has a blocky pattern to represent chocolate, red has seeds like a strawberry). There are also helpful and clear instructions that show you how the game works and explain the rules with visual aids.
This small-box game has the advantage of being portable, so it won’t take up much space when you pack it to take away on family holidays. I like that fact that everything in the box (apart from the little plastic bag that the hearts come in) is eco-friendly card or wood.
Who's It For?
The game is suitable for players aged 6–99, meaning that even though the game is made with kids in mind, adults can still enjoy its comfortable simplicity, making it a fun game for the whole family. People who have a soft spot for charming and adorable artwork will find the ice cream characters appealing.
Kawaii is a light card game and isn’t the most substantial, but just like an ice cream, it’s still a real treat (except you can’t eat it!). If you’re hungry for something small but sweet to share with the kids, give Kawaii a taste!