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Board Game Review: ‘Bugs in the Kitchen’

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The HEXBUG nano is a hot item this year as engineering applications catch up with invention. It is a surprisingly complex little device with an offset motor that causes movement from vibration. On hard surfaces, it skitters, changes direction, and can even flip over if tumbled onto its back, creating the illusion of a living creature when it is really just a seemingly random engine.

bugsinkitchenToy master Ravensburger, known for its smart games promoting learning and especially science education, has launched a game that is as fun as it is as clever of an application of technology: Bugs in the Kitchen. Using the illusion of the HEXBUG nano as an actual beetle, the theme of the game is genius in its simplicity. “Bugs” have invaded the kitchen, and it is up to the players to trap them.

The production value of Bugs in the Kitchen is top notch. It is one of the few games to use the box as part of the board, making a sort of arena for the bugs to roam. It requires some assembly, clicking pieces together and ensuring the kitchen floor board sticks firmly into the plastic via connections that also hold movable guide-walls in the shapes of knives, forks, and spoons. Once the assembly is complete, however, it fits in the box perfectly, decreasing set-up time from game-to-game.

Gameplay in Bugs in the Kitchen is straightforward, yet the arrangement of the utensil walls gives unending variety to the possible moves. Each player picks one of the four traps on the edges of the box, and the walls are placed in a particular beginning arrangement. When the bug is dropped in, each player takes turns rolling the die to determine what utensils may be moved. Players must strategize, yet also be lucky, to guide the bug into their own traps. While turn-based with each player rolling the die, it is also partially real-time as the HEXBUG nano is constantly on the move, making players reevaluate their strategies.

The game is somewhat loud due to the hollow nature of the board as the HEXBUG nano chitters on it, but the sound is aesthetically fitting to the game. It brings up a gut-wrenching thrill as seeing a bug in one’s own kitchen and makes players eager to catch it.

Bugs in the Kitchen is a game for two to four players aged six and up. It is a relatively short game, taking only 15 to 20 minutes, and the individual rounds may last a few minutes at most. Those minutes are filled with excitement, and Bugs in the Kitchen will have players coming back again and again for more rounds.

For additional thrill, add more HEXBUG nanos into the mix, and watch the bugs go crazy and the players squeal as they eagerly try to trap them all.

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About Jeff Provine

Jeff Provine is a Composition professor, novelist, cartoonist, and traveler of three continents. His latest book is a collection of local ghost legends, Campus Ghosts of Norman, Oklahoma.