Strange Vending Machine by Soso Studio – Review

Strange Vending Machine is a great game to add to game night collections.

Theme and What is it?

Have you ever taken a trip to an Asian country? The first time I went to Shanghai I was surprised by how many vending machines there were and by all of the things that are sold in all those machines. Obviously, I purchased all of my drinking water from a vending machine, and I never was thirsty because the machines were easy to find. I also saw vending machines for designer bags, consumer electronics, food items for lunches and dinners, clothing and of course snack vending machines. I never needed a convenience store because multiple vending machines were found on every high traffic corner and, in a place like Shanghai, every corner is a high traffic corner. 

Strange Vending Machine is a look at the culture of vending machines. What they can do for us and how they influence our purchasing decisions. 

Gameplay Mechanics

Strange Vending Machine is a set collection game with press your luck elements. To start the game, six vending machines are loaded with goods cards. These cards award points based on different criteria depending on the cards a player has collected by the end of the game. While the card is in the vending machine, players cannot see the section of the card that tells how points are awarded. 

They must purchase the item from the machine and then they can see what the card’s requirements are after they have collected it. Players have coins that are used to purchase items from vending machines. Coins are placed in the side of the machine that a player wishes to purchase a good from. The coins are stored in the machines. A player can choose not to make a purchase during their turn and instead shake down a machine, which lets them collect the coins in the machine.

There are normal coins and fake coins. Both can be used to make purchases, but negative coins will give negative points if a player has any in hand at the end of the game. After a player has purchased five goods, the game ends and final scoring happens. The player with the most points wins the game!

Initial Impressions

As I was setting everything up, I knew that I was in for a treat. The little vending machines were the highlight of the unboxing experience.

They make the game very interesting. Since you can only see the price of the item that is in the vending machine, you are taking a gamble when you make the purchase because you are not sure what bonus it will give at the end of the game.

That is, if you even meet the requirements to get the bonus. It made for some tough decisions. Do you press your luck, or just shake down a machine and take the coins? But the shake down can also be an iffy choice because there may be fake coins in it which can lead to negative points at the end of the game.

So many hard choices and yet so satisfying!

Game Build Quality

This is the one area that I have any issues with Strange Vending Machine. The quality is not where I would like it to be for the vending machines. They are made out of a card stock. These machines get picked up the whole game and you open and close them and put coins in them and take cards out of them. They are the focal point of the game.

I worry that they will get beat up after just a few plays because they are always being used. It is definitely something players should keep in mind when playing. If you like your games to always look their best, then you will want to throw out some serious threats to any players who are new to the game. Give them the “you break it, you buy it” speech.

Artistic Direction

The art is very light, but that does not make it uninteresting. They goods cards are fun and show off the vending machine culture of Asia.

There are some quirky items that can be purchased. The art enhances an already solid gaming experience by allowing players to enjoy the hands-on experience that Strange Vending Machine provides.

Fun Factor

If you couldn’t tell from above, I really love the little vending machines.

While I have an issue with their quality, I have no issue with their functionality. The developers did a great job at capturing the feeling of making a purchase at a real vending machine, placing money in and extracting an item, and not knowing if the item will be worth what you just paid for it because you can’t physically touch it before the machine drops it.

It is all there, and it makes for a very exciting game.

Age Range & Weight

Strange Vending Machine is recommended for 8+.

My hesitation with playing it with too young of players is the machines. I don’t want them getting damaged and my son is not always careful with game components no matter how many times I remind him about it. It is not so much the game play that worries me. Younger players should not have an issue with that, in fact I am sure there are some really great skills they can pick up while playing this game.

With the vending machines being so fragile, and me being too crazy about my games being perfect, I will pass on playing this game with my deleteriously active child. 

Conclusions

Strange Vending Machine is a great game to add to game night collections.

It is fun to play, easy to learn and is a quick game. There is enough silliness to it to make it fun in large groups without making new gamers feel out of place. Being able to pick up and interact with the vending machines allows players to get very involved in the game. There are a couple of variants of the game, but I will let players check those out on their own.

My review covers the better of the two and the one that most people will always play. I say this to show that there is some depth to the game and the press your luck element can be very entertaining. 

Go ahead and grab your spare change and see what you can purchase in Strange Vending Machine!