Kahuna is a game that has bugged and frustrated me. I’ve found it hard to form my opinion of it, but now it’s clear: I want to like it, but I can’t.
The game is about building magic bridges between the islands in an archipelago. Whenever a player has the majority of the bridges to an island built, she gets to place a control marker on the island. This in turn causes the opponent’s bridges to that island to disappear, which might mean a loss of control on an adjacent island.
A flat experience
I like the chain reactions and the competition for the control of the islands. At best, the game is an exciting challenge of bridge-building and timing. However, most of the time, it seems, the game falls flat. Instead of a dynamic competition, it’s a stale experience of early winner.
Giving up when the game seems lost is not fun, but neither is suffering the rest of the 30-minute match with relatively few possibilities. If the game were 10-15 minutes long, the problem would be less significant, but now the game feels like a waste of time, really.
Good, but not good enough
It’s sad, because I really want to like the game. First of all it’s gorgeous: the box cover is probably top five material (I’d love to have it as a poster) and the components look great. The game has promise, but doesn’t deliver. Maybe if both players had enough experience, the game would be better, but who wants to slug through a bunch of unpleasant matches to get that experience?
I’ve given Kahuna a chance, perhaps more than it deserved. Some people seem to enjoy the game a lot, so I guess the potential works out for some people. Thus, I recommend you do try this one out if game seems interesting — but try before you buy, preferable more than once.