Ice Cool 2 is a captivating skill game about peckish penguins running riot around a frozen high school. Players flick the flightless birds through classes and corridors in search of fish. More responsible penguins police the halls and chase down their pilfering peers. This cat and mouse opposition intensifies the panic and relief of narrow escapes and near misses. It’s an almost athletic-feeling challenge brimming with stand-up-and-shout, laugh-out-loud action. Penguins glide, hide, slide and collide all over the innovative box-is-board-is-box.
The game is simple and intuitive. Runners get point cards for grabbing fish. Catchers get point cards for grabbing penguins. Once one penguin has caught their fill the round ends and the roles rotate. The game ends when everyone has played as the catcher. All you need to begin is a quick practice of the curve shots and jump shots that provide the most satisfying plays.
Created by Brain Games, Ice Cool 2 is a standalone game. It also acts as an expansion to the award-winning Ice Cool.
The More the Merrier
Ice Cool is entertaining because of the player interaction. Playing almost feels like a sport where the penguins are an extension of the players. There’s a sense of achievement to difficult manoeuvres. Curving arcs through doorways, or jumping walls to catch your friends. Players come together sharing those moments, often with a cry of “Did you see that?!”.
The good-natured hilarity of failed shots is constant. This, along with the risk of getting caught, keeps players focused and engaged. The energetic gameplay adapts to a variety of group sizes. Combining with Ice Cool 2 caters for up to eight penguins. The result is more moments of tension and relief, catastrophe and victory. And more people to share those with.
The basic rules and win conditions are the same in a five-player game. With six to eight players there’s an extra catcher. In this scenario, the hall monitors work as a team to bring their delinquent peers to account. Because catcher roles rotate, with seven players someone will play this role twice. This unevenness might ruffle the feathers of more particular players. But this game is best for light-hearted play.
The new race mode introduces a team element. Players pair up with two penguins to pelt around the school. The aim is to be the first team to grab all their fish and make it to the designated finish room. Working together heightens the fist-pumping joy of success. And the wide-eyed, hand-over-mouth calamity of fumbles! This mode works with a single version of the game, but the racing dynamic is a lot more satisfying over a larger area.
Rooms for Improvement
Double the rooms mean more variety of size and configuration. The instructions for IceCool2 include suggested layouts for different games. Some even use unsecured rooms in the middle that can slide into different positions. And some result in open exits, which can be another source of amusement. Alternatively, you can use the box lids to seal them off.
I encountered two problems with the combined game. On some layouts, the joins could do with a firmer hold and often there is a misalignment of doorways. The latter results in smaller openings that increase the difficulty. Neither of these are major issues. I even came to appreciate doorways of varying challenge.
Designing your own layouts is entertainment in itself, like an oversized tangram puzzle. The first game we played had four rooms in the centre with enough space to allow them to rotate position. It was huge; using all the boxes from both games plus the lids for extra stability. And we only had three players! We enjoyed closing and opening doorways to link rooms and create new paths.
Although the basic gameplay remains unchanged, Ice Cool 2 rewards trick shots. Single point cards offer an opportunity to perform certain tricks for extra points. This makes for more exciting and rewarding turns.
Successful jump shots are always satisfying and these are safer with larger setups. There are more places to land if you can flick the little flippers hard enough. This is good news for anyone worried about falling foul off the school!
Another interesting change is the two-fish-move-fish rule. When players draw a two-point card they can move any fish from one doorway to another. This can make the game easier for one player or harder for another. A small change that can make a big difference for struggling penguins.
Bigger and Better
Whether it’s worth owning both versions will come down to how you want to play and how many players you have. Or how much space you want for flicking penguins. I’m glad to have Ice Cool 2 for bigger, more exciting matches, and opportunities for team games. My favourite way to play is the new race mode which is more fun with the larger courses.
Most of the extra rules could apply to the original Ice Cool, but it helps to have descriptions in the rule book. Also, the one point card illustrations show which trick shot to perform for extra points.
If you only want one version I recommend Ice Cool 2, it does everything IceCool does and more. If you already own one of them, the other version makes a good gift for friends and family. Having just bought a copy for a friend I’m eager to see what colossal construction we make with three times the rooms!
Ice Cool 2 is a flippin’ brilliant game of dexterity and daring that goes over well with all ages. It’s ideal for families and will have little ones on their happy feet pinging penguins here, there and everywhere. It’s also a great expansion to the original. Whether you flock together for higher player counts or want more space to pelt your penguin pieces. If you like skill-based games this one is well-deserving of a Plaice on the shelf. Get your Skates on and p-p-p-pick up a copy of this Ice Cool game.