Kakerlaloop is published in Finnish as La Cucaracha Loop by Ravensburger, and I received a free review copy.
The game: Kakerlaloop by Inka and Markus Brand, published by Ravensburger in 2015.
Elevator pitch: Roll and move your bugs across the board, but watch out for the Hexbug Nano cockroach that tries to bump the bugs off the spaces.
What’s in the box? This is a standout game: the box includes two see-through plastic loop tubes, one green and one orange, to be installed at the ends of the board.
The board is placed over a pool in the insert, so that the cockroach can run underneath the board, appear from the loop tubes to run on the board, then get back to below the board. That looks great. Other than that, there are some bug pawns with bright, vibrant colours and a die.
This game looks really attractive, and it’s easy to get people to try it based on the looks alone.
What do you do in the game? It’s a simple roll and move thing: take turns rolling the die and moving your pawns across the board. First player to get all three pawns to the other side wins.
The cockroach provides a small twist. When it appears from below the board, the players stop rolling and moving. Once the cockroach is back below the board, players continue, but first they check all the bugs: if the cockroach has kicked a bug off the track, the bug returns to the beginning.
If a bug touches a square, it’s returned to it, so it’s possible the cockroach will set a bug back just a space or two, or even move it forward.
Lucky or skillful? Almost completely lucky. It’s really up to how well you roll the die and how merciful the cockroach is for you. There are some safe spaces where the cockroach can’t touch the bugs, but there’s little strategy in using them.
Abstract or thematic? The Hexbug Nano electronic cockroach is nice and does feel somewhat like a real insect, so the theme works and is fun.
Solitaire or interactive? It’s pretty much a pure race game, so while you may root for the cockroach and cheer when it pushes your opponents off the spaces, there’s nothing you can personally do to hinder the other players.
Players: 2–4, better with more.
Who can play? Age recommendation is 5+, but with adults helping, even four-year-olds or bright three-year-olds should be able to play – this is a very simple game.
Length: 10-15 minutes, though if the cockroach is very stubborn and doesn’t want to go below the board, you can spend several minutes waiting for it to move so you can continue the game.
What’s to like: Simple game; looks really attractive; the cockroach is lovely.
What’s not to like: The game is too simple; there’s not much depth in it; the cockroach is kinda annoying.
My verdict: This game looks stunning and it’s really easy to get kids excited about it. If you’re mostly familiar with simple roll and move games, Kakerlaloop will deliver an exciting experience full of thrills.
Well, at least most of the time: sometimes the cockroach spends ages whirring around the board kicking the bugs and when it finally dives under the board to let players actually play the game instead of just watching the cockroach, it may reappear right away. Sometimes it doesn’t really surface at all, and then the game is quickly over and boring. The cockroach is unpredictable, in good and bad.
However, if you expect more than just roll and move with a little twist and pretty setting, Kakerlaloop is a disappointment. Despite the flashly looks of the new game, the original Kakerlakak is still the more interesting game.
On the scale of Enthusiastic, Suggest, Indifferent or Avoid, Kakerlaloop gets Indifferent from me – but if you are looking for a really simple roll and move game with a flashy twist, do check it out.