Tokyo Jidohanbaiki – Jordan Draper – Review

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"Holy Smorgasbord Batman! This game has more variety than we have villains," said Robin. Batman replied, "that's right, and it's compact size fits conveniently on my utility belt."

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Theme and What is it?

Thirsty for new and unique games?  Can you get games out of a vending machine?  Or, a vending machine out of a game?  Apparently, you can!  Jidohanbaiki is the Japanese word for vending machine.  That’s pronounced something like “Gee-doe-hon-bike-ee.” Tokyo Jidohanbaiki comes with 6 drinks in 6 colors, 6 crates for the drinks, Japanese money, advertisements for the vending machine, cards matching the drink types and colors, and a vending machine… AND it’s got LOTS of games all packed in one.  Drink up!

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Gameplay Mechanics

This game, er…platform of games, has 18 different ways to play.  There are more if you count the variations, or one less if you don’t purchase the game Tokyo Jutaku.  Numerous designers have come together to develop all these games based off the vending machine and its components. 

One of the games I enjoyed is called GRAPE SODA.  It is considered a modular area control game.  It reminded me of Chinese checkers on steroids.  You place all the crates in a 6×6 grid and give each player a color set of drinks.  Each turn consists of moving a crate and placing a drink or moving a drink.  You can jump opponents orthogonally or diagonally and captures them.

Here are all the games in the box:

LEMON SQUASH – Designer: Nick Halper (Dark Flight), Game Type: Dexterity, Players: 2-12, Time 15-20 Min.

CREAMED CORN – Designers: Kerstin S. (Quality Beast), Nick H., & Jordan D. (DF); Game Type: Dexterity/1 VS all, Players: 2-7, Time: 1-5 Min.

GENMAICHA – Designers: Dylan Howard Cromwell (Quality Beast), Game Type: Economic, crafting, Players: 2-6, Time 10-15 Min.

GRAPE SODA – Designer: Jordan Draper, Game Type: Modular area control, Players: 2-6, Time: 15-30 Min.

CHOCOLATE MILK – Designer: Jordan Draper, Game Type: Economic Market, Players: 2-8, Time 15-25 Min. (This game requires the purchase of another Tokyo Jidohanbaiki to play 7-8 Players), (This game cannot be played unless you also purchase Tokyo Jutaku)

PURA – Designer: Jordan Draper, Game Type: Solitaire, sorting, Players: 1, Time: 15-1500 Min.

PURA PURA – Designer: Travis D. Hill, Game Type: Sorting, puzzle, Players: 1, Time 10-15 Min.

YUZA TWIST – Designer: Stefan Brakman, Game Type: Area control, puzzle, Players: 1-6, Time: 15-40

KAMIKAZE CANS – Designer: Stefan Brakman, Game Type: Abstract, Area control, Players: 2-6, Time: 15-20 Min.

VANCOUVER SWEAT – Designer: Stefan Brakman, Game type: Matching, take that, Players: 2-6, Time: 5-10 Min.  

5 CAN STUB – Designer: Jake & Zach Given (Lay Waste Games), Game type: Drink poker, push your luck, Players: 2-6, Time: 15-30 Min.

CRATE WARS – Designer: Jordan Draper, Game type: Strategy, Players: 2, Time: 20-30 Min.

MELON SODA – Designer: Jordan Draper, Game type: Give or take, sabotage, Players: 2-6, Time: 10-15 Min.

1-2-3-SODA – Designer: Michael Fox, Game type: Economic, betting, Players: 3, Time: 10-15 Min.

UNLAWFUL DUMPING – Designer: Hojo Toryo, Game type: Take that, deduction, Players: 3-6, Time: 30 Min.

BIRD HEAD – Designer: Kenichi Tanabe, Game type: Deduction, Tactics, Players: 2-4, Time: 10-20 Min.

BATTLE SHIPMENT – Designer: Kota Nakayama, Game type: Hidden information, tactics, Players: 2-4, Time: 10-15 Min.

LOST BOTTLE – Designer: Kota Nakayama, Game type: Deduction, tactics, Players: 2, Time: 10-15 Min.

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Initial Impressions

I felt like a kid in a candy store when I first opened the box.  I got to play with all the bottles and put on lots of stickers.  My kids rushed around me to play with them as well.  It was satisfying to sort them into crates or dump them into the vending machine.  

I was bowled over by the variety of games.  I was eager to try everything immediately.  It can’t be done any faster than trying all the flavors of drinks in a vending machine at one time.  You need to take it slow and savor all the flavors.

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Game Build Quality

These are some quality components!  The bottles are highly detailed down to the pull tab on top of the cans.  Nothing in the box feels chincy.  There is a solid well-made vending machine and 6 crates for the drinks.  The money and advertisements are thick cardboard punch-outs, and the stickers for the drinks are highly detailed.  The cards are really interesting as well.  Their surface is textured with small bottles.

My husband, having lived in Japan, was impressed with the accuracy of the money and labels on the drinks.  He took a drink down memory lane and told me every weird thing he ever got out of a Japanese vending machine.  An hour later…. he told me about some of the subtle Japanese details and humor intertwined in the titles of the games.  

Oh, and did I forget to mention the game comes with a honking 100-page instruction guide!?  Well, good luck on reading the second half of it because it’s in Japanese.  Still, 50 pages of games in English is no joke!

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Artistic Direction

There is not much art involved with Tokyo Jidohanbaiki.  The money looks accurate and the labels on the drinks are very convincing.  There are some advertisements you can switch out on the vending machine and they relate to the different designers.  The box is covered with pictures of Japanese drinks, vending machines, and drink crates.

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Fun Factor

There is a lot packed in this tiny box.  The components are a joy to play with.  The vending machine is cute and functional because drinks get stuck in it just like in a real vending machine.  Only this time you can take out all your frustration on lost money by shaking the snot out of it.  

I like many of the games but not all.  Some were not so fun because the instructions were hard to decipher.  Maybe I just didn’t play them correctly?  Still, I found a few mistakes.  Overall, with such variety there is bound to be something for everyone.

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Age Range & Weight

Tokyo Jidohanbaiki is rated for age 14 and up.  I’d say it can work for a younger age but you would have to watch kids with the tiny pieces.  For instance, my 6-year-old loved the flicking game, but I can just picture him flicking the tiny bottles under the refrigerator or into the dog’s mouth when I’m not looking.  I shudder to imagine them lost in the couch cushions. 

The games range from easy as pie to brain melting puzzle nightmares.  Each game has a little thing like a battery power indicator which shows the level of brain melt involved.  With that wide a range of difficulty I think anyone in my family could play.

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Conclusions

“Holy Smorgasbord Batman!  This game has more variety than we have villains,” said Robin. 

Batman replied, “that’s right, and it’s compact size fits conveniently on my utility belt.”

I think this game shines as something you can travel with or fill time between longer games.  Most are quick to learn and quick to play.  However, when playing solitaire games, you may get stuck thinking too hard.  The box indicates you should quit at around 1500 minutes play time.

Tokyo Jidohanbaiki is easy to travel with but a little trickier to play in different locations.  I was able to play a solitaire game on an airplane as long as I kept all the pieces in the box lid.  Some games require spreading out and pieces could get lost easily because of their small size. I would have preferred the pieces be larger.  They are sometimes difficult to pick up out of the crates.  

Also, I had a hard time telling the difference between the tallest drinks and the tall drinks.  I had to get right up close to tell them apart every time I needed to distinguish between them.  It really does make some of the games difficult to play.  Although, a black marker swiped across the cap of the tallest bottles could be a solution.  The size might have been intentional.  My husband says they are into making certain things really small in Japan.  It could be just part of the theme.

If you want a quality, well thought out, labor-of-love game I would recommend Tokyo Jidohanbaiki.  Throw it in a backpack and go hiking or take it to a restaurant.  Keep up to 12 people flicking little cans around before engaging in a longer game or go toe-to-toe with your scientist friends in a battle of the brains.  Don’t have friends?  No problem.  Just play the solitaire games.  You are bound to find something you like in this happy little box.

*NOTE* Some Japanese junk food was harmed in the making of this review.