Board games are a necessity at the cottage to break up the doldrums on a rainy day or for when you bring things inside at night. It’s a fun social activity and it doesn’t get much more social than Cranium Inc.’s Hoopla (2002). If you grew up in the 90s and played board games (hey that was practically pre-internet, people played board games) then you may be familiar with the board game, Cranium (1997) by Hasbro. Cranium is more or less a variety / party games where you draw, sculpt, act out or answer question. It is a pretty fun game I will probably review it later, but today I am talking about Cranium‘s younger more fun sibling, Hoopla.
Hoopla takes the essence of Cranium and boils it down into a more compact, co-operative game, where you are trying to beat the clock. Hoopla is one part charades, one part word association, one part “win lose and draw” with barely any extra pieces. There is no big board or character pieces, just playing cards; a dice with different coloured sides for the categories; a timer (you could conceivable use your phone or watch) & the paper to draw on (which can be replaced with scraps). So, you could essentially just play if you have the cards, which makes it ideal for camping and cottaging where space may be limited and setting up around a big table is not necessary. Furthermore, the game play is great for groups big and small, but is casually played. As I have said, its more like a charades vibe, but I would even argue more entertaining and engaging. Even the most staunch critic of party games will like this game (I have seen it happen). Those who sit at the sidelines will be playing in no time like “what’s going on over here?”
What is particularly good about this game is it is really social and because it is co-operative there are no hard feelings. The games are fast with a 15 minute timer and some stops in between with a small learning curve. Also, because there are stops you can take breaks to your hearts content. I guarantee you will at least play it twice in a row, but in my experience we have played it up to 5 games in a row.
The negative: the replay value is somewhat mixed. Once you play through the given cards (with the set) and if you play it too often, the subjects / answers become too familiar. However, one solution is to add Cranium cards from the other Cranium series games, to extend the life of the game. That being said the game changes depending on whose playing, how they act out or execute their clues.
Now the bad news, it’s no longer manufactured. The good news, they made a lot of them and because it’s not that old, you can easily grab one second hand for $10-$15.
Rating: / 5
Players: Its says 2 and up, but would recommend at least 3.
Duration: 20 minute game (15 minute timer, with stops)
Age: 12 and up. Questions are from the 1990s and before though.
Learning Curve: Easy