One of the most popular board games of all time is the drawing game Pictionary. Most people at some point in their lives have played Pictionary or another similar game where you are given a word and have to draw it so your teammate can guess it. With how popular Pictionary has been, it is not surprising that quite a few board game publisher have tried to make their own Pictionary style game. Today I am looking at one of those attempts named Googly Eyes. Googly Eyes basically takes the generic drawing game and adds in vision altering glasses. I didn’t really know what to think about the game as I am not a big fan of Pictionary and the glasses looked pretty ridiculous. I decided to give the game a chance though because I hoped it would be the right amount of silly to make Googly Eyes a surprisingly fun game. Googly Eyes plays like a game of Pictionary played with vision altering glasses that makes the game silly enough to appeal to younger families but ends up not differentiating itself much from every other drawing game.
How to Play Googly Eyes
- Place the gameboard on the table between the players.
- Set the glasses, lenses, timer and die to the side of the gameboard.
- Shuffle all of the cards and place them in a draw pile next to the gameboard.
- The players separate into teams with each team choosing a pawn. Each team places their pawn on the start space.
- Whichever team has the youngest player, will start the game.
Playing the Game
The current team chooses which of their players will draw in the current round. That player rolls the die and moves their playing piece forward the corresponding number of spaces.
As long as the team’s pawn doesn’t land on one of the special spaces, the drawing player will have to attempt the challenge corresponding to the color of the space the pawn landed on. The drawing player takes the top card from the pile and reads out loud the card’s category. They then look at the line matching the color of the space that their pawn is currently on. This tells them what they have to draw, what lenses they have to put in the glasses, and how much time to put on the timer. The player assembles the glasses and puts them on. When they are ready to draw, the timer is started and they begin drawing. While drawing the following rules must be followed:
- You may not speak or act in any way.
- You cannot add letters or numbers to a drawing.
- You must stay seated for the entire round and you cannot take off the glasses until the end of the round.
If the drawing player’s teammates can guess the word(s) within the time limit, the drawing player rolls the die again and moves their pawn forward the corresponding number of spaces. If the teammates are unable to guess the word(s) in time, the players do not get to roll the die again. Either way, play passes to the next team.
If a pawn lands on a special space, they will take a special action which may alter or replace the typical drawing round. If a pawn lands on a special space after the team guessed correctly and rolled the die a second time, the effect will apply to their next turn. If the pawn landed on a special space that affects the drawing phase of their turn, it will apply to the current round as long as they didn’t land on another special space that affects the drawing phase. The special spaces on the board include:
End of Game
The game ends when one of the teams reach the finish line (does not have to be by exact count). The first team to reach the finish line wins the game.
My Thoughts on Googly Eyes
Generally I don’t like to judge board games based on their boxes. I can usually get a good impression of what a game is going to play like just by looking at the box. There are some surprise games though, so I like to occasionally try out games that I otherwise wouldn’t give a second thought. Googly Eyes was one of those games where the box made the game look kind of silly/stupid. I was hoping the silliness was going to be enough to overcome the fact that I have never been a big fan of Pictionary. I have never been a big fan of Pictionary because I wouldn’t consider myself to be much of an artist and thus have never been good at Googly Eyes.
Despite having hopes that it would be something more, Googly Eyes is exactly what it looks like. Basically you are playing a game of Pictionary where the drawer has to wear silly looking glasses while drawing. Inside the glasses you put different lenses which alter your vision by applying a kaleidoscope like affect. The easy difficult doesn’t impact your vision that much, but the hard difficulty does such a good job that you sometimes have a hard time finding your pencil or even the piece of paper that you are drawing on.
I knew going into the game that it was going to be silly as the whole premise behind the game was to make people’s drawing skills even worse than normal. In execution the game somewhat succeeds at this goal. At least for me, I didn’t think the easy lenses really impacted my vision significantly. My terrible drawing was due to the fact that I have always been terrible at drawing games like Pictionary. With the medium and hard lenses though, you can start to see an effect on your drawing. The lenses make you lose perspective which leads to you not always drawing what you intended. This can be humorous as your drawings will be even worse than normal.
There is sort of a way to work around the lenses though which can somewhat help you. In each pair of lenses there seems to be a small section where you can see pretty normally. This spot is considerably larger on the easier glasses than the harder glasses. If you can focus on this spot and then move your head as you draw, the lenses don’t seem to impact your vision as much. It will still have a little impact on your drawings, as your vision will be limited, but you don’t have to worry about not being able to see anything.
At first the three different difficulties might seem like a gimmick, but I actually thought they were an interesting addition to Googly Eyes. You would think that you would always want to get the easier difficulty. That is not always the case in Googly Eyes. Thankfully the game’s designers were smart enough to balance out the different difficulties. While it is much easier to see out of the easy lenses, you get three times as much time to draw when you wear the hard lenses. This usually more than makes up for the impaired vision. I think the game was smart to offset how much your vision is impaired with how much time you get to draw. This makes it feel like both extremes are pretty fair so you aren’t at a significant disadvantage when you have to wear the hard lenses.
The only concern I really have with the “easy” vs “hard” distinction is that I don’t necessarily agree with what words are considered easy and which are considered hard. The challenges can vary a lot from card to card. Some are really easy while others can be quite hard. This applies to both the easy and hard categories. Some easy challenges are more difficult than the hard challenges. With this wild difference in difficulties, the outcome of the game could come down to which team was able to benefit off of getting more words that were easier to draw.
While the glasses add some difficulty to the game, I think the mechanic that adds the most difficulty to the game is when players have to use their non-dominant hand. While this shouldn’t be an issue for ambidextrous people, it really throws a wrench into your plans if you are not good at writing/drawing with your non-dominant hand. In these rounds you need to hope that you get a really easy word, or you are going to have a hard time drawing something good enough to get your teammates to guess correctly.
The wacky glasses add some variety and silliness to Pictionary, but at the end of the day Googly Eyes plays a lot like Pictionary. If you don’t care for Pictionary, I don’t see the glasses really changing your opinion. People who like Pictionary and the idea of wearing vision altering glasses, will probably enjoy their time with Googly Eyes. I thought Googly Eyes was decent and basically on par with Pictionary. I wouldn’t really say that it is any better or worse though. It is just a different experience. It suffers from a lot of the same problems as Pictionary which leads to the game getting boring kind of quickly.
Ultimately I see games of Googly Eyes coming down to two things. Players who are naturally good at Pictionary are likely going to be really good at Googly Eyes as well. If one player is significantly better at drawing than the other players, their team is going to have a significant advantage in the game. The glasses might be somewhat of an equalizer but I don’t see them making a good drawer bad or vice versa.
The bigger impact on the game though is how well the players roll the die. The team that gets more words correct will naturally have an advantage in the game as they get to roll the dice twice each time they are right. If one team gets significantly more correct guesses than the other teams, they likely will win the game. They are not guaranteed to win the game though. If one team is really good at rolling high numbers while another rolls a lot of low numbers, the team that rolls high can loose quite a few more rounds and still win the game. I don’t mind that Googly Eyes adds some luck with the dice rolls but I think it goes too far. At times it is more important to roll high than to actually guess correctly.
The dice rolling also seems to make the game end too quickly. Unless all of the teams roll poorly and are terrible at guessing, I would think most games would end in 20-30 minutes. That seems like a decent amount of time but it doesn’t give you a lot of time to create a significant lead in the game or catch up if you fall behind early. The gameboard only has 40 spaces and the die goes up to five (2-3-3-4-4-5). If you are lucky to roll two fives in a turn, you could theoretically move through a fourth of the board in one turn. While I don’t hate the dice rolling, I honestly think the game would have been better just keeping track of how many correct guesses each team has.
Finally I can’t say that I was particularly impressed with Googly Eyes’ components. I thought the glasses were decent. The lenses actually work better than I was expecting. The frame is not great though since when we tried to remove one of the lenses, the part of the glasses that holds the lenses broke off. It snaps back into place but that shows the quality of the glasses frame. The gameboard, playing pawns and timer are nothing special. The die is terrible as it has you apply stickers to each side. The biggest problem with the components though might be that the game only includes 54 cards. You could play quite a few games without having to repeat a card, but the game could have easily included more cards. With some tweaking you could probably use some cards from a game like Pictionary, but that is not an excuse for Googly Eyes having so few cards.
Should You Buy Googly Eyes?
At the end of the day Googly Eyes is exactly what it looks like. It is basically Pictionary where you have to wear silly glasses. The glasses alter your vision which leads to some funny moments where your drawing skills (which are probably already bad) get even worse. I give the game some credit for making a trade off between the amount of time you get to draw and how much the glasses impact your vision. Googly Eyes is a silly game that you can have some fun with if you like drawing games. It is still Pictionary though and has most of the same problems. The game gets repetitive after a while as the teams with the best drawers and the teams that have the most luck are likely going to win the game. The component quality is not great either.
If you have never really liked Pictionary or other drawing games, the silliness of the glasses are unlikely to change the game enough for you to suddenly enjoy Googly Eyes. If you like Pictionary though and have younger children or like really silly games, you could have some fun with Googly Eyes. If that describes you and you can find the game for cheap, it might be worth picking up Googly Eyes.