Board Game Review: Sonic Crash Course

Think board games are slow? Think again – how else to bring a bit of speed to the table than to drop in everyone’s favourite speedy hedgehog? Combining easy gameplay with great looking components and straightforward rules, Sonic Crash Course is exactly what you’d want it to be: a short, fun game to play with your kids who might be just the right age to be enjoying everything the Sonic universe has to offer.

There are a few things you notice quite quickly when first setting up Crash Course. The most obvious among these is the miniatures that come with the game, unusually full coloured straight out of the box. For getting kids interested in a game that’s a huge plus point, and while they’re not exactly the most robust models going (our Knuckles mini’s hand fell off when it fell off the table onto a carpeted floor) they look brilliant, and if your kids are slightly less clumsy than mine then you might well get away with it. The general feel of the game’s components lends itself to a typically 90s version of Sonic too, with the chequerboard effect on the box combining with the Greenhill Zone tiles in the game itself, which considering all of the modern versions of Sonic with all of the paraphernalia that goes with it, it’s nice to see the designer stick to the more traditional version of the Sonic world.

In terms of the game itself, it’s a piece of cake to figure out. Starting with the same two tiles in each game, players race through the game, adding a new tile each time they reach the end of the current course layout. Once you’re out of tiles (which won’t take long given there’s only 7 of them) you take the one at the back of the track and plonk it in front, taking out any players who were lagging behind and still standing on that final tile. Adding a tile gives that player a bird to add to their collection, and once a player has enough birds to win they “simply” need to race off the end of the course to win. Of course it’s not always that easy, even when you’ve got your full quota of birds. There are plenty of abilities and power-ups to be used against you by the other players, letting them drop bombs or bad guys around you to cause you a headache or force you into an alternative route, and with some of them having an effect on any players in front of you on your current track it’s entirely possible to nail an opponent despite being some way behind them.

In each turn you you can carry out 3 actions, one of which must be to heal (if you need to) or move. You can also pick up tokens which give you one of several benefits, although there is a small limit on how many of these you can hold at any one time. There will be times when you have no choice but to move, even if it means you end up in the spikes and take damage, but that all fits into the strategy of the game. You might even end up being pushed around by other players, ending up in danger or taking damage through no fault of your own. Brutal, but again all part of the game. But as a result of this three-option system it takes very little time to actually figure the game out, and as such you can be up and running with a full understanding of the rules before you’ve even finished your first game, which is pretty refreshing with so many complex games trying to pass themselves off as family friendly.

So while Sonic Crash Course isn’t going to keep you and your hard core gaming buddies overly excited, it’ll keep your kids entertained for hours. Each game only takes about 15 minutes to play (although give yourself a sizeable chunk of time when first popping the components, there’s a lot of small round tokens!) and as such the younger players are less likely to get bored half way through. Bring the player count up to three or four and you’ll have the best out of the game too, with some pretty crazy outcomes when everyone starts chucking their stingers, bombs and power-ups around the place when you least expect it.

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