02 May 2017
This kids' party game is silly, simple and lots and lots of fun
There are some games so simple and yet so joyous that it’s impossible to resist their humble charms. From the moment you see Happy Salmon’s smiling fish-shaped pouch, it’s clear that it is a party game designed for one thing: happiness.
The ingredients are simple. Six colour-coded sets of identical cards split into four actions: High 5, Switcheroo, Pound It! and, of course, Happy Salmon.
Players stand in a circle, their individual deck face-up in their hand, and try to match the top card with another player by saying (which quickly turns into animated shouting) the action depicted.
Score a match (you can swap the top card anytime) and it’s time to pull off the move – high-fiving, fist-bumping, switching places or doing the signature move, which is sort of a flip-flapping fireman’s grip. Then it’s onto the next card, until the whole deck is cleared.
It plays like a stood-up, active spin on classic family shouting match-turned-card game Pit, and ends within a couple of minutes at most. What a couple of minutes they are, as players shout, slap, bump and dash around, sending completed cards flying. Luckily, the cards are satisfyingly thick and nicely laminated, meaning the game will survive spills of Ribena and lager alike.
The artwork is necessarily simple and clear, but has a certain expressiveness to its bright colours, bold text and delightful fish cartoons. (We were reminded a little of Dr. Suess’ One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish.)
One charming detail is that the rulebook specifically offers an alternative to the Switcheroo for players with limited mobility, as well as a couple of simple gameplay variants, one of which would be ideal for deaf children.
Happy Salmon can be explained in a sentence and enjoyed by players of any age in less time than it takes to get a coffee (and costs about the same as two drinks from Starbucks), making it equally fitting as an icebreaker or time-filler. It’s simple, silly and joyous. Fin. (See what we did there?)
Publisher: North Star
Time: 5 minutes
This review originally appeared in the April/May 2017 issue 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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