Earlier this month I was at Richard Gottlieb’s “Future of the Industry” conference and someone brought up the issue of packaging. Given that “green” is a trend; the absence of throwaway packaging is definitely an a-peel-ing part of Bananagrams. (Couldn’t resist a good pun!) While this game feels familiar to other crossword games like Pick Two, we all agreed that the adorable zippered banana sack and the hanging merchandiser helped make this item a standout.
The game itself? I think it’s great! (FYI – I really like quick word games.) The only real negative is that it’s not heavy on the player interaction because you’re working on your own mini-crossword while everyone else is working on theirs. The other players essentially set the pace of the game. When they need a new piece, you have to draw one too. If you need a piece, they select one as well and this continues until all the pieces are gone.
Keeping up is key in this game. You also need to be flexible; quickly morphing your words to include an unfortunate letter tile is essential. It’s not easy to squeeze an X or Z into an existing crossword but the faster you can, the less likely you will fall behind. It’s also advantageous to have a couple open spots to create quick short words like “it” and “am” towards the end of the game.
Bananagrams was first introduced at London Toy Fair in 2006 and has swiftly become a big success. It’s hard to ignore their booth at toy shows because it is filled with tons of fabric bananas so you just have to stop to find out what’s going on! And apparently the deluge of bananas has worked because Bananagrams is now stocked almost anywhere games are sold. So maybe the next time you stop at the store you’ll pick up some bananas – from the game aisle.
~$15 at Amazon, mass and local retailers (UPDATE: there’s also a double set, a giant yard set, Spanish version, Wildtiles version)
2-8 Players (it says 1-8 but playing solo sounds meh.)
Ages 7 and up