Designer: Brian Gomez
Publisher: Brain Games 2-4 players 20 min. ages 6+ MSRP $39.99
Young penguins can be troublemakers, especially if they’re hungry. You and your classmates have decided to sneak out of class to grab an early snack. You’ve hidden some fish around the school and there’s only one thing standing between you and these tasty morsels… the hall monitor! If you’re quick, you’ll be able to scoot through the halls and grab your fish before getting caught. If not, you’ll be stuck in detention…. again!
Ice Cool is a dexterity game where players will take turns flicking their penguins through a 3 dimensional school trying to either catch fish or catch the students skipping class.
You’ll each take turns playing one of the young student penguins (the Runners) and the Hall Monitor (the Catcher) and at the end of the game the player with the most points wins.
The minute you open the box, you’ll see this is a game very different from most others. There are multiple open faced box bottoms inside the main box bottom, nested together like Russian Matryoshka dolls. There are five boxes in total: four rectangular rooms and one square room. Each room is numbered and has doorways cut out along at least two sides. You will assemble these boxes to create the game board – a three dimensional school for the penguins!
There are several wooden fish tokens in the game. Each player gets 3 in their chosen color. The remaining plain wood fish are used to hold the board together sort of like clothes pins. Once assembled, the board is really quite sturdy and can be rotated or slid along the table so players can line up their shots.
There’s a deck of cards which are score cards. If you snag a fish or grab a student in the halls, you’ll get to draw one of these. They are numbered 1-3.
Each penguin has a colored ID card (which can be confiscated if you are caught) and a roly-poly plastic penguin figurine which you will flick around the school.
These penguins are very similar to the figures used in Subbuteo, a flicking soccer game that has been a part of millions of children’s lives since 1947. The penguins have a rounded base that is weighted and tapered bodies with a round head. The penguin will sit flat on the board but with even the slightest nudge, it will weeble and wobble back and forth.
Once the school is setup, you will place your fish over the marked doorways, shuffle the score cards and you’re ready to play!
Each player in Ice Cool will get to play in two different ways: as the runner and as the catcher.
As the runner you will start in the classroom and try to flick your penguin through the doorways containing your colored fish. For each doorway you go through, you will collect your fish and a score card. If you can collect all three of your fish, the round will end.
As the Catcher, you dont care about doorways or fish. You care about catching the other penguins! You will flick your penguin through the school hoping to make contact with each penguin running around the halls.
Runners always start in the classroom on a red dot for their first turn. The Catcher starts in the kitchen anywhere he or she wants. Players take turns one at a time, flicking trying to achieive their individual goals. Each room has a red line marking the playable area. If you get too far into a corner, you can pull your penguin out into the room in order to make your next move.
Now Ice Cool is already visually amazing and the challenge of flicking around this 3d school is inherently and addictively fun. You can flick your penguin in straight lines and with the right angle you can even get your penguin to bend around corners or through doors.
BUT there’s another element that literally and figuratively vaults Ice Cool into another stratosphere of fun. You can make your penguin do jumps! That’s right, if you aim high on the penguin (around the shoulders) the little guys will jump into the air, meaning you can hop over walls or even across the school in a single move. It sounds preposterous and it may take a few practice flicks (be careful not to flick too hard!) but within half a dozen tries your penguins will be airborn! Not bad for a bunch of flightless birds. 🙂
This element is a game changer. It changes your strategy and allows you to look at the board in entirely new ways. This makes Ice Cool very different from almost any other flicking game that comes to mind.
But mostly, it’s just crazy fun trying to make your penguins fly….
Simple joys are often the best when it comes to Major Fun and Ice Cool is a champion in this regard. The pieces cry out to be flicked and you’ll start flicking them through doors and over walls just for fun as you are setting up the game. In other words, you almost instinctively know how to play just by opening the box! The game has sense enough celebrate these simple pleasures and not bury them under overly complicated rules. Anyone with working fingers can play and enjoy Ice Cool and will instantly know that it is absolutely… Major Fun!