You’re a penguin, you’re at school, you’re bored and you’re hungry. Quite frankly you’re a bit confused about what the point of school is, when all you plan on doing with the rest of your life is swimming, fishing and caring for your chicks.
What use is Maths when you could have the easy life you see the other penguins having when you watch David Attenborough on TV? Cutting class is so much more fun and there’s plenty of fish to be had in the kitchens, so long as the hall monitor doesn’t catch you!
In 2016, Brain Games released Ice Cool at the UK Games Expo. It was our first year at the expo and we were quite surprised that any games were being released there, let alone one of them going on to win the Kinder Spiel des Jahres (the biggest award for children’s game of the year) one year later. Ice Cool is an innovative dexterity game, with a fantastic pun in its title, about a group of penguins trying to skip class in high school. Let us tell you how it plays.
Ice Cool Gameplay
Ice Cool is a flicking game where you try to navigate your round-bottomed penguin through a series of doorways to collect fish. On your turn you will flick your penguin to move it around the board, trying to avoid being caught getting those tasty fish! The game is very simple, but the clever part is the design of the penguins, if you flick them in the right place you can make them leap over walls or spiral through multiple doorways in one flick!
The game consists of a series of rounds where players will rotate being the hall monitor and the students. The students want to steal the three fish in their colour without being caught, when one penguin gets all three fish the round ends. The fish are hanging above the doorways between rooms, all you have to do is pass through a doorway to get your fish.
The hall monitor wants to catch the students by bashing into their penguins. Should you succeed, you take their hall pass, and should you get all the hall passes then the round ends. Fish and hall passes are all traded for scoring cards which can be one, two or three points, though as a bonus, collecting a pair of one's allows you to take an extra turn. Once everyone has been caught by the hall monitor the game ends and you count up the points on your score cards.
Amy’s Final Thoughts
There is no denying that Ice Cool has an immediate wow-factor. The way the board is created by pinning together a set of lidless boxes means that a medium-sized game box contains a huge playing area. The design of the penguins is genius and the tricks that you can do are incredible. Of course as often as not you’ll whiff your flick and bounce off a doorway or move half an inch before wobbling to a stop… but that’s part of the joy of flicking games!
Ice Cool is a very simple and light game, which makes it a nice warm up for a small group. Sure the person who is good at flicking games will always have the advantage, but since the score cards vary so much you’ll never know who the winner will be. Of course that may be off putting for some people, no matter how good you get you can’t compensate for someone drawing only three's.
Ice Cool may claim to be a 2-4 player game, but it’s definitely better with a full complement of four - there’s a huge difference in how the game feels when the hall monitor has a full set of three penguins to chase after! Ice Cool might be billed as a children’s game, but it’s just as fun for adults, or a mixture of ages. At the end of a game you are guaranteed to come away with a smile, and a slightly sore flicking finger!
Fiona’s Final Thoughts
Ice Cool has great table presence and gathered a crowd at the UK Games Expo last year, of both adults and children alike, and it was great for us to enjoy a couple of games there with friends. At the time we didn’t pick up a copy because it didn’t seem to play well with two players. Since then we’ve never come across any friends with a copy and have only played once at a convention.
It’s always good to have different games to the people you often play with, so Amy suggested that we buy a copy of Ice Cool and it has hit the table a few times in the last couple of weeks and sits happily among our heavy games like Terraforming Mars and A Feast for Odin.
I am extremely bad at flicking games and Ice Cool is no exception. I see other people making the penguins jump, accurately curving round corners and I’m lucky if I can make the penguin travel one inch in a straight line! As frustrating as it can be, a game of Ice Cool with four players can be quite a hilarious experience. Winning can often have a large dose of luck because luck of the draw determines if you receive one, two or three victory point cards, but I’ve never experienced someone being annoyed that they didn’t win because it’s just a quick, silly game.
If you’re looking for a game for children, perhaps a game that will cater for different ages, or you want to engage adults in a game as an introduction to the huge variety of games in our hobby, then Ice Cool is a shining example of something innovative and fun.