Kung Fu Zoo by Wizkids Review

Theme and What is it?

Everyone loves going to the zoo. One of humankind’s favorite activities is to watch other animals, most of them are ones that could eat us, in cages. We wander aimlessly between exhibits checking out depressed animals pacing back and forth in their cages. Hey…kind of like we do outside their cages. And can we say we have any fewer existential crisis? But while humankind returns to their cage…err…I mean homes, to ponder their super meaningful lives, the zoo animals are also finding their true purpose in life. “What purposes are these brutes of nature exploring?”, you may ask. Well, Kung Fu fighting obviously. Once the lights have dimmed and the cages are cleaned, the workers all go home. That is when the animals attempt to understand the laws behind the ability to acquire and maintain meaningful perceptions in an apparently chaotic world or in other words…crush each other in epic ninja battles.

Kung Fu Zoo is the story of one zoo’s battles to determine the most dominate animal. That animal may then ascend to its throne as king of the animal kingdom.

Gameplay Mechanics

Kung Fu Zoo is a half dice and half dexterity game. When players remove the lid of the box, they find a battle field waiting for them. Players choose to be either a gorilla, zebra, cheetah or elephant. Each player is given four dice. The dice represent the animals complete with face, tail, feet, back and each side. In a cage match, the goal for players is to either knock the other critters into their cages (holes in the corners of the board) or stun them by knocking them feet up. Each animal has a special ability that it can activate once during a cage match. Players take their dice and place them in the middle of the rail and flick them onto the board to try and knock other players into cages or feet up. After a few rounds and all dice have been flicked, a player can pick up one of his animals that has not been knocked in a cage or flipped feet up and use that dice to flick again. Play continues like this until everyone else is either knocked out or stunned. 

Kung Fu Zoo also has a points game. The objective of this game type is to be the first to reach 21 points. Points are awarded at the end of each round based on the dice that are still in play. Each side of the dice has a different point value. Opponents compare scores to each other and the player with the highest score is awarded points equal to the difference between their score and the next closest player. To be honest, we played the points variation once. The cage battle is what makes this game special.

Initial Impressions

I knew my kids would love this game right when I opened it and saw what it was about. We played round after round the first afternoon, they asked to play it each day after that. My six year old really loves this game. He tells everyone about it. He is a huge King Of Tokyo fan and he felt right at home with Kung Fu Zoo. Not only do the kids love this game, but the adults that have played enjoy it as well. It feels like a game of pool, only played with dice. Having square dice makes the chance of knocking other dice out much more difficult. They bounce all around and roll in directions you never expect. The whole experience is fun. When someone knocks an opponent into the “cage”, everyone cheers.

Game Build Quality

From the moment you open Kung Fu Zoo you know that you have found something special. The bottom of the box becomes the arena. The dice are unique for each animal and are very cute. There are player boards for each animal. But that is all that is in the box. Very nice components make an already great game even more satisfying. 

Artistic Direction

The art is very cartoony, but it is a game about zoo animals who kung fu each other for crying out loud! The box and player cards look great. The really fun part is the dice. Each type of animal has individualized dice. This is my favorite part of the game. 

Fun Factor

I have played King Fu Zoo with kids and adults. Every age group has been very engaged with the game. Overall feedback has been very favorable. I have enjoyed the game and it has made it on my go to list of quick and easy games to play with my kids before bed. In my opinion that is high praise because that list is not very long and that time is very valuable. The only issue I have noticed with Kung Fu Zoo is when younger players lose all of their dice quickly, which can happen pretty often, they can get frustrated and become self critical. The rounds are very short and I found it easy to redirect them from those feelings by asking who they are cheering for to win the round. But that is really the only problem I ran into. Otherwise it is a very enjoyable game with lots of replay value. 

Age Range & Weight

Kung Fu Zoo has a suggested age range of 10+. I feel this is way too high. I have played this game with with my nine and six year olds. My six year old really enjoys games but does not have the best problem solving or future decision making skills. He doesn’t run into those situations here. My three year old loves watching us play and likes to take his turn flicking dice onto the board, which happens in between rounds. He may be able to start playing actual games in the next year with all the practice he is getting. Although Kung Fu Zoo’s artwork is cartoony and geared toward kids, that doesn’t mean adults won’t thoroughly enjoy playing too. My age recommendation would be 4-118. After 118 I would worry about finger injuries while flicking the dice.

Conclusions

One can find great pleasure in the misfortunes of others. That is what makes Kung Fu Zoo so much fun. Knocking opponents into cages and stunning them is very satisfying. Knowing that you are the source of their heartache. It’s the best! Don’t be afraid to enter the squared circle and face off against the ones you love. Only one animal can be victorious and it might as well be you. 

Kung Fu Zoo is a highly addictive game that can engage even the most curmudgeonly of participants. The flick of the dice and the smashing together of opposing players pieces brings with it a certain fulfillment. The zeal of the players is soon manifest with cheers of the victor and jeers of the defeated. And let’s be honest with each other. That’s all we are looking for during family night.