Reviewer Reviewed On Publisher Designer Published In Rating
February 11,2008 Hasbro Arne Lauwers 2007 6
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Looking for a small object hidden in a pile of other objects is a fun task, which explains why the Where's Waldo series of books sold so well. My children (and myself - I must admit) spent hours looking for that elusive nerd and his glasses, as well as a host of other things. Waldo was the first thing to come to mind when I opened the game Pictureka! (Hasbro, 2007 - Arne Lauwers), and a reading of the rules confirmed this. Pictureka! is simply a game for two or more players in which they must find specific pictures amongst a host of drawn objects.

Pictureka! is a great kids or family game, as folks will highly enjoy finding the different pictures amongst the very cartoony artwork. There's a decent amount of replay ability in the game, although veterans of many games will likely have an advantage over those who are new, since they'll know the general vicinity of many pictures. It's fast and entertaining, often involving all players at the table. There is one major rules annoyance in auctions, although this is mitigated by a common sense rules change. I like the game and relegate it to my teenage game club pile, as they will be the ones most amused by the pictures and concept.

Nine large, double-sided tiles are randomly arranged in a three by three square to form a large board with hundreds of random pictures printed across it. Three decks of cards (red, blue, and green) are shuffled and placed near the board. One player is chosen to go first, taking a six-sided die with the colors of the cards printed on it, and play passes clockwise around the table.

On a player's turn, they simply roll the die and choose the top card of whichever deck it indicates. Before turning the card over, the player looks at the back of the card - some have symbols on them that require the player to flip a tile on the board, rotate any tile, or switch the locations of two tiles. They then draw the card...
- On a green card, the player rolls a number die, which tells them how many of the objects listed on the card (i.e. women, ropes, stains, etc.) they must find in thirty seconds. Another player flips a thirty-second timer, and the person must quickly point out that many objects. If they do so, they receive the card, otherwise it is discarded.
- On a blue card, as soon as it is revealed, all players simultaneously search for the object shown on it on the board. The first player to find it and shout "Pictureka!" receives the card.
- On a red card, before revealing it, the drawing player must announce how many of the item they will find. Players can "bid" higher, and this continues until one player is the highest bidder. This winning bidder then flips the card and has thirty seconds to find the objects listed there. If they find the number they bid, they win the card; otherwise, it is discarded.

This continues until one player has won six cards, at which point they win the game!

Other comments...

1.) Components: I keep hearing all the time how Hasbro's games are shoddy and poorly produced, and yet I rarely find this to be the case. Pictureka! isn't a super high quality game, but the boards are very well done, thick and easy to maneuver around. The cards are smaller (with white borders - thank you!) but clearly delineate what a player is looking for (in English and Spanish). The cartoonish artwork is similar to much of that found on the Cartoon Network these days - in other words, I would typically despise it - but it really works well in this game. Glancing at a single section of the board, I would imagine that it would be easy to remember everything that's on it, but it's put together in such a clever way that I found myself many times befuddled to figure out where everything was. The two different sides of the boards are quite different, although they have several of the same pictures on them (for the blue cards). There are lots of cartoon action lines going on, and it's very busy - while only in a few colors (red, blue, black, and white). The box is thinnish but holds everything easily, including the thirty-second timer and two dice.

2.) Rules: The rules are written on one sheet of paper and are understandable instantly; especially since the only thing players have to remember (the difference between cards) is printed on four small reference cards. The rules are fine, but there is a serious flaw with the "bidding" phase.

3.) Red: When using the red cards, a player can simply bid an astronomically high amount. Sure, they won't win the bid, but neither will anyone else. A quick fix on this is to simply have the winning bidder LOSE a card if they make a mistake -- this will cut out the silly bidding. Gamers are likely the only folk who will attempt such nonsense; I haven't seen teenagers doing this.

4.) Blue: I personally like the blue cards best, as I like hunting down one specific picture. The picture on the card has no color, and you would be surprised at how adding a bit of color makes them that much more difficult to find. Players who have played the game before will know the general vicinity of pictures they've seen before, and this can be a bit of a problem. This shouldn't be a problem for players who have all played the game before, as it simply comes down to speed.

5.) Green: I like these cards; they're the same as the red, without the bidding. There may be some argument over whether an object is the same as what is written on the card (i.e. "stinky things" is likely an argument waiting to happen.) I haven't run into too many problems, though, and likely the group can simply vote.

6.) Fun Factor: If you like quickly scanning a mosaic of hundreds of little pictures, then you'll love Pictureka!. Most of the fun comes from looking at all the little cartoon details and finding the one thing everyone is searching for. Luck is certainly evident in the game (with all the die rolling), but it's fast enough that no one will mind much.

Pictureka! is a party game - no doubt about it - it can accommodate large groups (although going over six people starts to push it.) Anyone who has found delight hunting for Waldo or such books will find a great deal of glee from this game. I wonder just how much replay ability it has, and the auction rule still bothers me; but it's one game that I can play with my children on equal footing, as we both hunt down that elusive lawn gnome.

Tom Vasel
"Real men play board games"