Game Review: Jungle Speed

This game is a classic in Cassidy’s family. It’s a game where no one’s hand is safe. For reals though, Cassidy’s mom has acrylic nails, so this game gets dangerous when she joins in on the fun. She’s been known to take chunks of skin out of unsuspecting opponents. (Okay, I’m being a bit over dramatic here.) 

Jungle speed has been around for a long time. In fact, a quick Google search told us it was actually invented in 1991. Cassidy played this YEARS ago when the totem was a big wooden thing that really hurt if you hit your hand on it just right. The newer versions have a nice squishy, plastic one that is much less of a “danger” to your fellow players. 

  • Time to set up: about 1 minute to pass out all of the cards and set the totem in the middle of the group. Possibly longer, if you argue about which point on the table is fairly equidistant from all players (as you can tell, this is more common than you’d think).
  • Duration of game: The game continues until one person has successfully gotten rid of all the cards in their hand. The amount of cards each player is dealt varies depending on the number of people playing. Typically, a round can last anywhere from 5-10 minutes. 
  • Number of players that are needed/can participate: 2 – 8 with a single game. We have played with two decks combined and about 10 people… you just have to have enough cards for everyone, and make sure the totem is within reaching distance of each player.
  • Where can it be played? A table or central ground location is sufficient for Jungle Speed. You will want to make sure there is enough space between each person that they are not getting smacked when their neighbor grabs the totem.
  • How to play? The game begins by dealing ALL the cards in the deck to each player, ensuring that all players have the same amount of cards. Any extra cards should be placed under the totem in the middle. Keeping the cards face down in their hand, players will go in a circle. Each player flips their top card AWAY from them, revealing the pattern to their competitors before themselves. As each player flips a card over, cards will begin to pile up in front of them. As soon as a player sees that another player in the group has the same shape as them, the two players will race to grab the totem in the center! Whoever grabs the totem first gets to give their pile of flipped over cards to the slower player; who puts the cards they just received, as well as the pile in front of them, back the bottom of their hand. The goal is to get rid of your deck of cards as quickly as possible.

    To make things a bit crazier, there are additional action cards and fouls that can be committed. For example, if a player reaches to grab the totem and there was actually NOT a match with another player, the offending player would have to take ALL of the cards in front of every player in the group. The same consequence is given to someone who reaches for the totem and accidentally knocks it over instead of grabbing it. The action cards can change gameplay from looking for matching shapes, to simply looking for matching colors! 

Backyard Buffs’ Rating: 17

Creativity/Originality: 5. We haven’t seen many other games like this one. The colors are vibrant, and shapes are just similar enough to make it challenging. In our opinion, fast-paced, competitive games that require you to be on your toes are uncommon in the game world.

Durability (packaging or game pieces): 4. We love that the game comes with an easy storage bag! Great for packing up quickly and small enough that it doesn’t take up much room in your game closet. Though, the bag doesn’t stay closed or tightened up 100% of the time, so we have lost our totem from time to time as it seems to have slipped out. As well, our cards are starting to bend and get worn out, but we have gotten a lot of use out of it. 

Friendly for all Ages/Skill Levels: 3. We have found that the game has a bit of a learning curve. Those who don’t like fast-paced matching games tend to not give Jungle Speed enough time to get over the learning curve. Also, the game can be a little too fierce for grandmas and young children. We only say that because most grandmas probably don’t want to wrestle for the totem. 

Fair Pricing: 5. We think any game under $20 that gets a lot of use is an amazing deal. At $15, Jungle Speed fits the bill. We have gotten well more than $15 worth of use with this game.

Conclusion: If you like fun, competitive, fast-paced, matching games, then you’ll love Jungle Speed. Although it may take a few rounds to get into the swing of things, you’ll play over and over once you learn to distinguish the different patterns and shapes! While you’re cooped up under quarantine with Coronavirus, this will be a great game to learn and become a master by the time you emerge. 😉