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     " It’s funny when little kids cry- makes me laugh. "

      Title: Bionicle: Quest for the Mask by Upper Deck

      Format: Collectable Card Game

      Reviewing Monkey: Dungapult

      The Hype: Some months ago Lego created an abstract little sci-fi world populated by strange little robotic things bitterly embattled in competition for powerful, self-enhancing masks. Needless to say, these little toys were a big hit and they’ve now teamed with Upper Deck to bring the struggle for better facial wear to the collectable card game genre.

      What This Monkey Thought...

      Playability: So I have a confession to make…the first time I played Bionicle was with my 10-year-old cousin. It was actually pretty funny- when he heard that I got it in he practically bowled me over at the knees in his mad rush to secure me for a string of Bart Simpson-esque badgerings of "Please can I play? Please can I play? Please can I play?" So, the moral is that the game is designed to appeal to an age group that is significantly below my mid-twenties demographic. Still, all in all, I found it to be fairly entertaining. The system, simply enough, is that you move a playing piece, one space per turn, across a playing board included with the starter sets. Most of the spaces are empty, while some contain power up cards, traps, or special items. When you land on a battle square you get to go head to head with your opponent and try and kick his ass in one of your by comparing your character’s statistic categories with prizes going to the winner. And, really, that’s it. Simple and to the point.
          So, does that a good gaming experience make? Well, truthfully, not for anyone over 12. There’s no drama, no real challenge, and almost no strategy. Still, that being said, 10 year olds love it! My little cousin still hasn’t got enough and every time I see him not only does he beg to play more but I am also bombarded with stories of his latest conquests, lamented with exposes on his strategies, and drowned in explanations of his newest cards. Thus, I’m going to compromise and give it a mid line 3 out of 5. Not good for adults but great for kids.

      Aesthetics: No question that the game looks cool. Not beautiful, not overly artistic, but still very cool. Half inked half cgi card illustrations make it fun to look at and the vivid colors and overly stylized card layout is, again, really designed to appeal to a kid’s sense of chaos. 3.75 out of 5

      Learning Curve: Learning curve? Heh. Even though I already had read the instructions, I let a 10 year old explain it to me and he was able to do so, fairly accurately, in about 15 minutes. After that and two open-faced hands we were going at it like pros. Still, while the rest of the game was designed for kids the instructions are far more complicated than they need to be and really work to confuse certain points with the target audience- which can really be a problem…Especially if a kid is learning it on their own. 4 out of 5

      Balance: Each starter comes with 2 virtually identical decks (one for each player), compatibly powerful characters, and the booster packs are fun but not game altering. So, all in all, you can go toe to toe and not make your little cousin cry. Which, of course, I did anyway…But only ‘cause I wanted to. It’s funny when little kids cry- makes me laugh. Then I told him he was adopted. That made him cry more. Then that there’s no Santa Clause. That made him down right bawl. Then that his parents bet him on the Super Bowl and that by the summer he’d probably be a white slave shoe maker in a South American Nike factory where he’ll get nothing but hard tack and swill to eat every day, never get to watch TV again, and will likely be sold to a native tribe as food when his fingers have been worked to bloody nubs. I think he’s in therapy now. Aren't kids great? 4.5 out of 5

      Value vs. Cost: There’s been a new trend in games lately that you pay a little bit more for Starter Decks (like $12 vs. $9) but get everything you need for both players to start jamming. So far as I’m concerned that trend kicks ass! Especially for kids, they can be rocking and rolling for less money that it costs to take ‘em to Chucky Cheese and it’ll last ‘em a who hell of a lot longer. Plus, multiple Starter Deck options means that they don’t need to get the same one as their friends. Keen. 4 out of 5


      The Verdict:

       Looking at this as what it is, a kids game, I’m giving it a nice strong rating. Fun, easy, pretty, and inexpensive…this is a game designed not only for the youth market but also for us poor adults who have to play with them.

      The Good: Nice illustrations, bright colors, simple, cheap, and fun for kids.

      The Bad: Too simplistic for adults and no real strategy to employ.

      The Overall Ugly: If you are one of those sorry sods who have to play with kids this is a good choice for you. And, while you’re doing it, you can traumatize them with stories of their unwantedness and dire future.

      What it's Worth: Market

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