Theme and What is it?
Have you ever wondered what if dinosaurs played basketball? Think about it, a long necked brontosaurs going for the swish, a T-Rex dunking with those tiny arms, or a velociraptor moving through holes in the defense and breaking away towards the end of the court. You ready for this? Dino Dunk is a flicking game that seeks to shows you exactly that. Is it a perfect shot from the three point line or is it an air ball. (We have now exhausted all of my actual knowledge of basketball.)
As I said Dino Dunk is a flicking game. Each team consists of five wooden disks. Each disk represents a different type of dinosaur. Depending on whether you’re playing a full game or an exhibition match depends on what abilities your players have. The full match gives each dinosaur different abilities and weaknesses. For example the T-Rex can’t shoot and the Ankylosaurs can make a bounce pass allowing you an advantage in passing the ball.
On a players turn they get to use one action with two different dinos. There are free actions that can be earned depending on what you do with which dino. You can flick your dinos to move them, pass the ball from one dino to the next, or attempt to shoot a basket. There’s a shot clock built into the game and if you control the ball at the end of your turn you advance the shot clock one round. If the shot clock runs out then you lose control of the ball and your opponent gets control and now you’re on defense. The game continues until one player reaches a certain score.
The game features all of the things you expect in basketball. There’s a three point line that lets you go for the higher point but riskier shots. You can be fouled by the other team. There’s even a system for shooting dunks and lay-ups.
I’ve often stated I’m always on the lookout for new games I can play with my niece and this one certainly checked a lot of the boxes. It’s bright and colorful, has the players move around the table to get good aim for their shots. And the pieces are nice enough that I felt it would be easy for her to handle them. So my initial response was one of interest.
Game Build Quality
The quality of the components is very good. The wooden disks are decent quality and slide well. The game mat is neoprene and two sided giving different rules for each side. The cards aren’t as good as I’d like but you don’t shuffle them so they should hold up well for their use. The insert is nice and holds all of the pieces well with a decent amount of space for expansion teams. Though, if they come out with additional maps you may have to remove the tray. I did have to put the stickers on the disks marking the teams. It’s a minor inconvenience but it does stop out of the box play.
The rules are okay. I had a couple of questions and couldn’t find answers online. The rules for fouling are a bit hard to figure out but I think we played them correctly. There were a few other bits and bobs that stumbled us but didn’t stop play. Overall, the component quality is quite decent.
The art has a decent cartoony quality that’s quite nice. It brought up memories of the Land Before Time; which for me is a very good thing. The graphic design on the cards and tokens is quite clear and makes it easy to tell which pieces are which and keep track of the game flow.
The play mat is very nice. Each side has its own feel and look. They match the teams that they represent and are quite good in that regard.
This game is very kinetic. You’re on your feet, moving around the table, and putting your skill against your opponents. You’re likely to spend a good amount of time circling the board looking for the perfect angle. This allows for some good trash talking and keeps the game fun.
Age Range & Weight
The box says 9+ and I think that’s a decent age. 9 feels right, especially if you’re playing an exhibition game. For older players looking for a bit more precision, then you have the more diverse skills for the different dinos. I think this game falls quite nicely into a middle to light weight range.
Dino Dunk is a fun game. You get a nice combination of shout out loud moments and tense heartbreaks. Dunking the ball is hard and when someone manages to pull one off it’s a big deal. Going for a long distance shot at the end of the shot clock feels like a moment. The game works on multiple levels. I think people will like this game even if you don’t know a lot about Basketball. I know almost nothing about basketball and I had a good time.
The one drawback I find in the game is difficulty. The skill cap on this feels high and a bit unforgiving. Even using the backboards, which are optional, the game felt hard. It does make scoring feel better, but the skill cap gets in my way. I admit that this is entirely based on my ability or lack thereof. If I were better at this game, I would like it more. In the end, I felt like I was running in place in a lot of ways.
That’s where I think this game lands for me. It feels harsh. I haven’t played a lot of flicking games. I’ve tried Pitch Car and IceCool and in both of those games I felt like I was accomplishing something even if I wasn’t as good as the other people playing.
As I mentioned my niece at the beginning, I feel I should bring this full circle. I haven’t had a chance to play it with her. However, I have a friend whose son is into sports, dinosaurs, and flicking games and I think he’s going to love the hell out of this.
In the end I can appreciate this game for what it is and I believe there are a lot of people who will love this. It wasn’t for me but I chalk that up to my personal lack of skill. My lack of connection to the theme is probably a factor as well. I don’t know much about basketball. I know I joked about it in the beginning but it’s a factor for me.
As always I encourage you to try it out if you get a chance. Especially if dinosaurs, basketball, and flicking games appeal to you. It’s not the game for me, but I think it could be the game for a lot of other people.