Monster Mash Up from Fundex is a solid children’s game. The online description quickly excited my inner six-year-old, conjuring images of mystical creatures that have fascinated me since well before I can remember. “Create your own monster!” is a great theme for imaginative kids; when young I drew many beasts and still do to this day. The game allows the creation of five basic monster types: a one-eyed squid-beast; a grinning yeti; a pink hairy bug-thing; a three-eyed, multi-limbed, horned whatsit; and some kind of blob with a mouth in its torso and four eyes. Monsters can be mixed and matched, giving tentacles to a yeti or something even sillier. Looking at the cards alone establishes a great mood for play.
Aside from the aesthetic, Monster Mash Up carries enjoyable gameplay. It starts with the scenario, “A lab experiment has gone bad and monster parts are scattered everywhere!” It explains, “You are a scientist trying to make a special monster from all of the monster parts.” First to assemble a complete monster wins. It’s a simple draw-one/play-one, giving players a few cards to hold in the hand while they build up a monster on the table. Each monster has six pieces: a head, body, left arm, right arm, left leg, and right leg. Gain all six, and the round is yours.
Monster Mash Up is more than just a drawing race of luck, however. Additional cards add strategy. The Scientist Card allows the player to draw two additional cards, giving a sudden boost to the possibility of drawing what a player needs. A Wild card is able to be placed at any position, enabling players to gain a leg-up where they may be missing something. The greatest strategy elements (and possibly the most exhilarating part of the game) comes from the Take A Part cards labeled with the body, head, etc, which a player can steal from another. Wit comes in as players need to decide whom to hinder and what they need the most, potentially leading to a come-from-behind victory.
As part of the “Lunch Box Games” line, Monster Mash Up is designed for younger players. It comes in a handy “lunchbox”-style tin with a plastic handle that resists the wear-and-tear that would break up cardboard game boxes. The rules list the game as for two to four players, ages four and up, which is appropriate given the simplicity of gameplay. Older folks might want more eventually, but the cards are exciting enough to keep younger players’ attention round after round. It’s even possible that the game could be made more simple for very young kids, taking out the non-body-part cards and turning it into a matching game as practice for coordination.
While not the game for intense Risk-style players, Monster Mash Up is a quick, easy game for families or friends simply hanging out.