Zombie Kidz Evolution is a legacy style board game, based on the original Zombie Kidz by Scorpion Masque. Zombie Kidz Evolution is suggested at Ages 7+ and this review is written assuming you're buying this for your own children or as a gift. As a result, there's going to be some spoilers here, but we'll keep them to a minimum, just in case you're going to be playing this game with them.
Zombie Kidz Evolution is very firmly a legacy game, which means that rules are added, components change, items are removed and sometimes physically marked over time as you play. That's the entire concept of the game. If you or the people you play with are not going to be comfortable with that, then this type of game might not be for you. But this is a fantastic way to introduce young gamers to legacy games, and they will love the story element of the developing game.
The rules are incredibly straight-forward and only take up two A5 pages. The rest of the rulebook is play examples and space for the legacy elements of the game. The game takes place on a board that represents a school with 5 internal rooms in the school and 4 external. The object of the game is to lock the 4 external rooms, which is done by having two players' characters on that square, while stopping the zombies from building up on the rest of the map.
On each player turn, there are 4 phases.
- Roll the dice and add a zombie card to the board area matching the dice colour (5 board areas, 5 colours on the dice and one blank, which means no zombie that turn)
- The player can move their character to an adjacent board space (if a board space contains 3 or more zombies, they cannot move there)
- Eliminate all zombies in the space you are in (which will be 1 or 2 zombies)
- If you are in an external area with another player, you can lock that area
Once all four areas are locked, the players win. If a zombie needs to be added to the board and there are no zombie tokens left in the reserve pool, the players lose. Letting zombies build up to 3 on a space effectively locks that space and the zombies in it. If it happens twice, it can be very difficult for the players to come back from, so good teamwork is required to keep the amount of zombies in check while working toward the goal.
Once the players complete a game, a zombie brain sticker is added to the Progress Chart. If one of the achievements is completed, they also add a trophy sticker to the chart. The achievements come in blocks of 3, and when a block is completed, another trophy sticker is added. Every so often on the progress chart, there is an envelope icon. These icons mean that the game will evolve when a sticker is applied to that mark on the chart. There are 13 envelopes in total, adding in new rules for the zombies, upgraded abilities for the players and adding more challenges.
The first envelope, opened on step 5 gives one of the heroes a power, but also speeds up zombie arrivals. The third envelope is where things get interesting, as one of the zombie types upgrades, which brings a real challenge to the players. There are spoilers in the next image gallery, so we've made the images slightly smaller than normal if you wish to skip past them.
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The legacy element of Zombie Kidz Evolution is very well done. The rules changes and zombie evolutions fit right in, building up the complexity of the game, along with the challenge. What starts out as a straight-forward puzzle gets challenging and more varied through-out the games.
The components are great and come in a very tight box. The single dice element works very well, and keeps play fast. There is a real danger of quarter-backing though, if one player is particularly controlling and tries to tell the others what to do. It's important to keep it as a cooperative game, where everyone controls their own character with their choices, but can discuss options with the other players. The ongoing story element is a great way to keep the interest of young players, and the stickers, progress and achievements fit right in with the current generation of gamer kids.
The Bottom Line:
Zombie Kidz Evoluution is a great introductory legacy game. The low price means that it offsets the legacy elements slightly more than if the price were double or triple the RRP. For the price the components are great and the box is travel sized with slots in the plastic inlay that hold everything securely. The initial puzzle of the game is very beginner friendly, the colors are bright and the color-coded dice means that play is fast no matter the age level or experience of the players. The legacy elements keep the game interesting and build up the complexity slowly to allow the players to learn the rules in stages while increasing the challenge as they become more comfortable with the gameplay.
Get this game if:
You want a game that can be played with kids of varying ages.
You want to introduce your kids to legacy games.
You want a tight, fast and portable game that has some video game elements to entice your kids.
You want to teach your kids about cooperative play.
Avoid this game if:
You don't want to mark or change the game components.
You have a very controlling player who wants to tell the other players what to do.
This copy of Zombie Kids Evolution was provided by Coiled Spring Games.
What do you think of legacy games for kids? Have you played the original Zombie Kidz? How does this compare? What do you think of quarter-backing in games and ways to deal with it? Let us know in the comments below.
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