When I was a kid one of my favorite board games was Loopin’ Louie. I played the game so often that I can’t remember how many times I ended up playing it. I hadn’t played the game in many years though so I was curious how the game would hold up. In the last couple years I have been going back and playing a lot of the games that I enjoyed as a child. This experience has lead to mixed reviews. Generally when you revisit games that you enjoyed when you were a kid, you are left disappointed as they are never as good as you remember. I had some hope for Loopin’ Louie though as it is a rare sight in the children’s game genre. Loopin’ Louie is one of the top 1,000 games on Board Game Geek and is currently rated as the ninth best children’s game of all time. The game even won the Kinderspiel Des Jahres (children’s game of the year) award in 1994. Loopin’ Louie is not quite as good as what I remember from my childhood but it still holds up surprisingly well as a game that the whole family can enjoy.
How to Play Loopin’ Louie
- Insert the battery into the bottom of the base.
- Attach the plane and cone to the base. Lift the plane until it sits vertically.
- Each player chooses a color. They add the corresponding colored flipper to the base. Players choose whether they want to place the flipper in the normal (wider side of flipper out) or the advanced position (narrower side of flipper out).
- Each player takes three tokens and adds them to the slot next to their flipper.
Playing the Game
When all of the players are ready, the on/off switch is turned to on. Louie’s plane will then start spinning around the gameboard.
The objective of the game is to keep your three tokens safe from Louie’s plane. When Louie approaches your tokens, you press down on your flipper in order to hit him back into the air. When hitting your paddle you should hold down on the paddle with your other hand in order to keep it steady so your tokens don’t accidentally fall off.
When Louie hits one of your tokens, it will roll down into the slot and fall to the lower section of your flipper. This token is out for the rest of the game.
If you lose your last token, you have lost the game. You can still flip Louie though in order to knock out the other player’s tokens.
Winning the Game
The last player with tokens remaining wins the game.
My Thoughts on Loopin’ Louie
So I will be blunt. Loopin’ Louie is far from a deep game and the theme makes absolutely no sense. Loopin’ Louie revolves around a reckless pilot flying around in a circle past the same farms over and over. As he is a careless pilot, he obviously flies too close to the ground and puts all of the farms’ chickens in danger. The only defense the farmers can come up with are gigantic flippers that knock Louie back into the air. In the classic battle between reckless pilots and farmer who randomly have tech to create giant flippers, who will come out the victor?
If someone were to describe Loopin’ Louie to me like this, without any experience playing the game, I would have thought Loopin’ Louie was one of the dumbest ideas for a board game that I had ever heard. With all that said, there is something about Loopin’ Louie that just works. When you objectively look at the game, there isn’t much to it. The plane continuously moves around in a circle. All you do in the game is use your flipper to hit Louie into the air so he doesn’t hit one of your chickens removing it from the game. This continues until only one player has chickens remaining.
It might just be nostalgia talking but I was surprised by how well Loopin’ Louie holds up over 25 years later. Of all of the games that I enjoyed when I was a child, Loopin’ Louie is arguably the game that has held up the best. The game is far from deep but there is something really satisfying about launching Louie into the air with your flipper. As you are doing the same thing over and over throughout the entire game, it can get a little repetitive after a while. Loopin’ Louie is not going to be the type of game that you play for long periods of time but it is the type of game that is fun to bring out every so often. The game works really well as a filler game that you play for fifteen minutes or so and then bring out another day.
I think the main reason that Loopin’ Louie is so loved is that it does what all children’s games should strive to do. A good children’s game should be simple enough that children won’t have any problems playing the game. At the same time the game should still be enjoyable for everyone playing the game. Most children’s games do a good job on the first front but forget about making the game enjoyable for everyone. A good children’s game is a game that the whole family can enjoy and even adults can enjoy without children present. While Loopin’ Louie is probably going to be better in family settings, I think Loopin’ Louie can be enjoyed by adults that don’t occasionally mind playing silly games.
Now a lot of adults who have never played the original game will probably think that Loopin’ Louie is a silly children’s game with no skill or strategy. While I like Loopin’ Louie, I can see why people would say this. Loopin’ Louie basically has no strategy as you are just using a flipper to hit a plane into the air. The game also relies on a lot of luck as there are times when you can’t do anything to prevent Louie from knocking down one of your chickens. Loopin’ Louie is a pretty basic game so I could see a lot of people finding this to be pretty boring.
The basic concept of Loopin’ Louie seems like it would have very little skill involved but I think there is more to the game than some people give it credit for. At first the game probably looks like it has no skill whatsoever. You just hit the plane into the air and hope that it hits the other player’s chickens. You can play the game like this and most children probably will. When and how much power you put into your hits does have an impact on the game though. The more you play the game, the better you will be at it. If you hit Louie just right, you can make it impossible for another player to defend against. Some people might also not be aware (I wasn’t until I checked out the rules again) that Loopin’ Louie actually has an advanced mode. You can turn the end of the flippers to reduce its width. This reduces the surface area making it harder to hit the plane. Loopin’ Louie is far from a strategic game but there is some skill to the game where it isn’t just an exercise in luck.
This might sound silly but I was actually kind of surprised by how much of a cult following Loopin’ Louie has developed among adults. I am guessing this is partially due to people who grew up with the game being adults now, but the game has really developed a following for what most people would assume is a children’s game. People have enjoyed playing the game so much that they have figured out ways of making the game more difficult. This includes people adding more powerful motors to the game to speed it up or altering the gameboard to support eight players. I don’t have the skills to alter my own copy of the game, but I think it would be really cool trying out one of these altered versions of Loopin’ Louie.
With how popular Loopin’ Louie is, it always surprised me that Loopin’ Louie was one of those 1990s Milton Bradley games that seemed to have been forgotten by Milton Bradley. I am curious if the original version of the game didn’t sell well as the game went a long time before it was reprinted. The game was first released in 1992 and was not remade until 2005. Since 2010 the game has been released a couple other times including a version by Spin Master which was released just last year. The fact that a lot of people had fond memories of the game and it going unpublished for 13 years drove up the price of the original game quite a bit. While the game has gone down in price in recent years due to the reprints, it is hard to find an original version of the game for less than $50 online.
I really appreciate that the game was eventually reprinted. The game was reprinted in 2005, 2012, 2014, and 2018. It was also rethemed as Bobbin’ Bumblebee, Barn Buzzin’ Goofy, Buzz to the Rescue, Loopin’ Chewie, Looping Louie, and Plane Crazy. The problem is that my experience with some of the newer versions is that none of them compare in quality to the original game. For example the 1999 game Barn Buzzin’ Goofy is basically the same game but Milton Bradley decided to turn the game into a two player game. I think this was a dumb decision as the game is better as a four player game. Then there is Loopin’ Chewie which adds a Star Wars theme to the game. I love Star Wars and Loopin’ Louie but the game doesn’t work for two reasons. First the game for some reason only supports three players. I don’t know why publishers kept making this mistake. The other problem is that the game is quite a bit smaller than the original game. The smaller game doesn’t play the same and just feels kind of cheap.
Speaking of the components I think that at least the original version of Loopin’ Louie has pretty good components. I have to say that when I got my original copy of Loopin’ Louie out of storage, I didn’t expect the game to still work. We played the game quite a bit when we were kids and the game is 27 years old at this point. We even stupidly left a battery in the game which was obviously corroded after so many years. I was pleasantly surprised that our copy still worked though. This is not going to be the case for all copies of the game but I think this is pretty impressive. The components are all plastic but they are quite durable which is important for a children’s game. I also love the game’s design as it screams early 1990s children’s game.
The components do have a couple problems though. First if you hit your flipper pretty hard, it is pretty easy to knock out your own chickens. If you hold down the flipper with your other hand it helps but there are still times when you will accidentally knock down your own chickens. We played where if this happened you were allowed to put it back as Louie didn’t knock it down. The other problem is the fact that good luck finding a copy that still has all of the original chicken tokens. We generally took pretty good care of our games when we were kids and yet our original copy is still missing a lot of the tokens. If you are looking for an original copy of the game make sure you find one that still has all of the tokens. The one good piece of news is that the tokens from the other versions of the game seem to work as we replaced our missing tokens with tokens from Loopin’ Chewie.
Should You Buy Loopin’ Louie?
While I haven’t had a lot of luck revisiting games from my childhood, I think Loopin’ Louie is the first game that actually held up pretty well over the years. The game is not quite as good as I remember but it is more enjoyable than you would expect from a children’s game from the 1990s. The game is pretty basic and simple to play. This will turn off some people but it is surprisingly satisfying using the flipper to hit Louie into the air. The game is simple enough for children and yet fun enough to keep adults interested. This has lead Loopin’ Louie to develop quite a cult following among adults. The game is not perfect though as it gets a little repetitive where you will only want to play it for 15-20 minutes at a time. The components don’t always work perfect as well and the newer versions are made quite a bit cheaper than the original version. I will also admit that nostalgia is slightly affecting my judgement because Loopin’ Louie was arguably my favorite board game when I was a kid.
Loopin’ Louie is a surprisingly good children’s game but it is not going to be for everyone. People who don’t like silly children’s action games and don’t have any nostalgia for it probably won’t like Loopin’ Louie. If you have younger children or have fond memories of the game or these type of children’s games in general, I think you will like Loopin’ Louie. I think the original version of the game is better than the newer versions, but they usually go for quite a bit more money. If you can get a good deal on one of the original versions I would probably pick it up. Otherwise the newer versions are quite a bit cheaper and might be a better option.