When it comes to children’s board games, theme is generally a secondary concern. Children’s games are mostly focused on being simple and engaging enough to keep children interested. Today’s game Baboon Ball is a good example of the priorities of most children’s game. In the game each player takes control of a baboon that is for some reason competing in a sport where they have to score goals against other baboons. I can safely say that theme was probably not the primary concern when it came to designing Baboon Ball. Despite the game looking a little silly, Baboon Ball is a surprisingly fun little children’s game.
How to Play Baboon Ball
Since my copy was missing the instructions these are the rules that we ended up using for the game. If anyone has the official rules and would like to correct any mistakes, I would appreciate you leave a comment with any corrections that need to be made.
Each player chooses a baboon. If there are less than four players place a goal cap in all of the unused goals.
The ball is placed in the center of the gameboard. The players then use their baboon to hit the ball towards the other players’ goals.
When the ball is hit into one of the goals the players can choose one of two ways to handle the goal.
- The player who hit the ball into the goal receives one point for the goal. The first player to score five goals wins the game.
- The player who had the ball hit into their goal takes a one point penalty. When a player has five goals scored against them, they are eliminated from the game.
My Thoughts Baboon Ball
As I already mentioned the copy of Baboon Ball that I found did not include the original instructions and since I wasn’t able to find the rules online I had to improvise. The thing is that while I might not have played exactly by the game’s official rules, I have to believe that my improvised rules have to be pretty close to the original rules. There really are only so many different ways that the game could be played so I am guessing the official rules don’t vary much from how I ended up playing the game. This review is based on these improvised rules though which means if the official rules are somehow significantly different, the game may be better or worse than my experience with the game.
At its’ core Baboon Ball plays a lot like a four player Foosball or Dome Hockey game. Basically you have a ball and four baboons. Each player controls a baboon and tries to knock the ball into one of the other player’s goals. Players can move their baboon from their goal to the middle of the board as well as spin their baboon in order to hit the ball. That is basically all there is to the game. If you have ever played Foosball or Dome Hockey you should have a good idea of how the game plays outside of it supporting four players instead of two.
So how does Baboon Ball play? It is basically what you would expect out of a four player Foosball/Dome Hockey game. The game is pretty chaotic as players are constantly shooting the ball back and forth trying to get the ball into the other players’ goals. The game is chaotic because the ball is constantly moving and no individual player will have a lot of control over the ball. At the same time though the game is not so chaotic that you don’t know what is going on. You have control over the ball when it is on your side of the board and you have some control over aiming the ball. The baboons occasionally seem to get slightly stuck but I think that is mostly due to the age of the game.
Of the two ways we came up with for how to play the game, I think I preferred the rules where a player was eliminated if five goals were scored in their goal. There are two reasons why I think this is the best way to play the game. First in many situations it is pretty hard to determine who should get credit for any particular goal. At times the ball is being hit by several players in quick succession so it is hard to actually tell who hit the ball last. I could see this creating arguments as players will fight over who should get credit for a goal. The other reason I like the elimination rules is that it gives players more incentive to play defense. You could be good at scoring goals but if you can’t defend your own goal you could be eliminated pretty quickly. While I generally don’t like elimination rules in games, I don’t mind playing the game in this way since it is the best way to handle goals. Since each game is so short players won’t have to wait around long before the game is over either.
From the theme to the entire design of the game it is quite obvious that Baboon Ball was designed as a children’s/family game. The problem with a lot of children’s games is that they just aren’t that entertaining for adults. Despite mostly being made for children, for some reason Baboon Ball is surprisingly satisfying for adults. While I have always liked games like Foosball/Dome Hockey, I thought Baboon Ball was going to be too childish to be enjoyable. Despite the game being made for children it is actually fun for adults as well. Obviously if you don’t like these type of children’s action games it isn’t going to be for you but I found it to be simple fun. Baboon Ball is one of those type of games that you can just have fun with without having to put too much thought into what you are doing.
While I was actually surprised by how much I enjoyed Baboon Ball I wasn’t that surprised that the game has a problem with staying enjoyable for long periods of time. Like a lot of children’s games, Baboon Ball is a game best enjoyed in short doses. With there being only one real mechanic in the game it can get repetitive pretty quickly as all you do in the game is hit the ball back and forth. I can see enjoying the game for 20-30 minutes but then it starts to become repetitive. This is why Baboon Ball is the type of game that is best played for a short time and then put away for another day.
With a children’s game that is over 35 years old it is a little hard to judge the quality of the components as the game has likely taken a lot of beating over the years. Baboon Ball is the type of game where the condition of the components is going to impact the quality of the game. If you can find a copy in decent condition the components should do their job. I would probably recommend avoiding copies in poor condition because if the metal rods or the board are heavily damaged it will probably affect the game quite a bit. Basically you get what you would expect out of a 1980s Hasbro children’s game. All of the components are plastic but they are durable enough that they should be able to take quite a bit of wear. One thing I really liked about the game is that the board is designed in a way where the board tilts to the center so the ball rolls back to the center if no one hits the ball. I really like this since it prevents the ball from getting stuck in an area where none of the baboons can reach it.
Baboon Ball is far from a fantastic game but it is enjoyable like a lot of these children’s action games. It is one of those games that are just fun to play without having to put too much thought into what you are doing. I can see Baboon Ball being a game that I would be willing to play every so often. That said I am probably going to get rid of my copy of Baboon Ball for one reason, space. Having as large of board game collection as I have, space starts to become an issue. The problem with Baboon Ball is that the game takes up a surprising amount of space. This is due to the board not coming apart at all. I don’t know why the game couldn’t have been designed in a way where it could have been disassembled and thus used a smaller box. If the game was smaller I likely would have kept it and yet I am probably going to get rid of it because it takes up too much space.
Should You Buy Baboon Ball?
Basically Baboon Ball is what you would get if you took Foosball/Dome Hockey and turned them into a four player game. It is an action children’s game where each player controls a baboon and tries to hit the ball into the other player’s goals. While the game is quite simple, it is hard to deny that the game is fun to play. People who like these older children’s action games will probably get quite a bit of enjoyment out of the game. The problem is that the game can get repetitive pretty quickly to the point where you probably only want to play it for 20-30 minutes before you put it away for another day. While the component quality is pretty solid, condition is pretty important as the game is a children’s game so it has probably taken quite a bit of wear in the last 35 years.
If you don’t really care for children’s action games, Baboon Ball is not going to be for you. If you like these type of quirky children’s actions games though I think you will enjoy the game. Whether you should purchase the game depends on whether you can get a decent deal on the game and whether you don’t mind wasting quite a bit of space on a game that you will only play every so often.