Travel back to a time of lava lamps, floppy drives, and platform shoes with this quick card-matching game from Flux creator Looney Labs.
|Retro Loonacy||Looney Labs||Card Game|
In The Box
We’ve come to expect great things from Looney Labs, and Retro Loonacy does not disappoint. The original Loonacy game is reimagined in this version with a retro theme that could fit nicely into the set design of an episode of Mad Men. A small box divides the game’s 100 cards into two neat stacks and also contains a single sheet of instructions that doubles as a neat pin-up poster for the unique design of Retro Loonacy. Card backs are printed simply with the game’s name while the player-side designs are a colorful combination of two key images.
What at first seems like a busy design style quickly becomes clear as you begin to play. The basic idea is that you can quickly glance at a card from any angle and understand which of the game’s two objects are depicted there. The color palette is somewhere between an old magazine ad and a Howard Johnson’s billboard, so players over a certain age will have immediate nostalgia for their youth. Andrew Heath’s illustrations also feel authentic, whimsical, and are guaranteed to have younger players asking what it was like to use a rotary phone. There are a few images that blur the line between generations, but at the very least we can all agree that Retro Loonacy is Nostalgia Central.
How It Plays
If you’re new to the Loonacy formula it’s an easy one to understand. To win you must lose. Lose all your cards, that is. Up to five players compete in real time, discarding based on matching cards in your hand with a series of discard piles. The number of discard piles changes based on how many you have sitting around the table, and of course the composition of those piles changes rapidly as players throw down cards. There’s a bit of strategy in how you discard to set yourself up for more plays, and almost no way to be sure you aren’t setting another player up for a discard.
Playing in real time is always a bit crazy, but the rules you’d expect about first-to-play are in operation here. There’s also the expected scenario of what happens when things get stuck and players have no moves to make. The solution is a single card draw for each player around the table before resuming play, occasionally multiple times until a play is possible. Cards can only be played when one of the two items on the card you’re playing matches one of the items on a top card in your discard pile. The seemingly busy design style of each card lends itself to maximum visibility, no matter where you happen to be sitting around the table. Expect a frenzy of activity, plenty of shouting and jostling for card placement, and an extremely fast game with a few breathers.
Retro Loonacy is a great filler or party game, especially at those times when the people around your table aren’t interested in learning any complex mechanics. You can teach this game in a minute or less. If we had to compare it to anything mainstream it feels like a more streamlined version of Uno, but with a much more interactive playing style.
Compared to Looney Labs’ flagship Fluxx Retro Loonacy doesn’t have quite the same level of infinite replay value, but it offers a lot of entertainment in a small, simple package.