SHAKE `N TAKE
Reviewed by Steven H Silver
Shake `n Take is an interesting game. The game has an underlying back story concept that has absolutely nothing to do with game play, and a game-play action which seems like it will result in a slow, drawn-out game, while in practice, it turns the game in a very fast paced activity.
The back story is one of alien and alien hunter, with the players taking the roles of the alien hunter. Each alien hunter is armed with a board which has 45 aliens on it. Each alien is one of five basic shapes, a square, star, circle, heart, or triangle. At the star of each turn, the alien hunter roles a die to determine which type of alien she is hunting. Once the species is determined, the alien hunter circles aliens of that shape as quickly as possible. Meanwhile, the alien hunter next to them rolls another die, encased in an egg-shapes capsule. When that die comes up with a picture of an alien, the player grabs the marker from the alien hunter's hand and the next player becomes the alien hunter.
If there are more than five people playing, the game is designed to have two alien hunters at the same time. In practice this can result in one person holding both alien hunter pens at the same time (or both a pen and the die for stealing the pen). The rules address this by allowing the player to decide whether to do one, the other, or both activities. This is, unfortunately, the one glitch in the game, as it tends to break up the rhythms otherwise established when both pens are making their way around the table.
Prior to playing the game for the first time, I shook the alien-die-containing-egg and felt that it took a long time to have the alien come up, which I why I feared game play would be slow. Once the game is in progress, there is a stress on the alien hunter that makes the constant sound of the die being rolled spur on activity. The alien also seems to come up faster in game play when the player has more of a reason to roll quicker. That said, the egg is not the best device for rolling, something more akin to the Pop-o-matic used by Milton Bradley would work better.
The boards are two-sided, with one side a simply depiction of the alien shapes suitable for younger players. The first time I played, we had players ranging from 9 to middle-aged. The game was playable and enjoyable by players of all ages. The game has simple mechanics and can be learned quickly and completed in a relatively short period of time, although it suffers from not being conducive to discussion when the game is being played.
A relatively simple game, Shake 'n Take offers fast game-play and is perfect for a family with kids of mixed ages. The playing cards are well-made and easy to read and the pens are designed so the aliens on them can continued to be used with alternative markers when/if the ink dries in the ones provided in the game. While the game isn't designed to encourage discussion while it is played, an individual game of Shake 'n Take is short enough that it allows for socializing as well as playing.