14 July 2021
Help little relatable dinos, even if in the end it is all futile.
Happy Little Dinosaurs is a game about the end of the world and all the curve balls that life throws at you before a big asteroid wipes you out from existence. It has adorable dinosaurs and is easy to learn and play, which, despite somewhat downer of the theme, makes it perfect for family gaming. However, as an adult, I have never related to a game more.
I will raise my hand up: I have been a Cry Ceratops on many occasions and I am a Nervous Rex almost daily. I have also been Stego, wearing the cheery smile of denial as the world around me goes up in flames. The game’s tag line ‘Smile, it’s almost over’, would fit well on my wall. As you go through the game’s disaster deck, it contains other unfortunate scenarios ranging from being stood up on a dino date to a prehistoric fire ant attack. Some are outright fantastical, but many are still very relatable, depicted in such a cute manner and spiced with delightful puns, that you can’t help but smile.
You are, however, trying to avoid picking up disasters by playing cards and abilities from your hand. The player with the lowest value gets the disaster, and if too many are collected, you are out of the game. Although primarily luck-dominated, there is space for strategies within the game (through dino’s individual stats and special power cards), although this is felt more in games with more players. Overall, the gameplay is completely dominated by the explosion of the personality of the game. In any other game, this would be a real downside, but in Happy Little Dinosaurs you hardly ever notice because all you want to do is help little relatable dinos, even if in the end it is all futile.
Designer: Ramy Badie
Publisher: Unstable Games
Time: 30- 60 minutes
This feature originally appeared in Issue 57 of Tabletop Gaming. Pick up the latest issue of the UK's fastest-growing gaming magazine in print or digital here or subscribe to make sure you never miss another issue.
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