What in the world is a “zball”? That’s what I thought when I picked this box up off the shelf. It really eats at me when companies give stupid names to common parts in order to spice it up. Just call it what it is! It’s not a hyper directional location device, it’s a friggen spinner! Just say it’s a spinner! I was so turned off I nearly put the box right back down on the shelf. If they have to use stupid relabeling in order to sell their product, it must be crap, right?
I admit, I was wrong.
The zball is not a normal ball. It really did require a re-labeling. The ball is heavier then the little piece of plastic looks, and is bottom heavy, always. While the outside is made of a thin plastic like a ping-pong ball, the inside is full of small ball bearings. This makes the ball move in interesting ways, such as allowing it to stop on inclines and being capable of controlled movement.
But I’m getting ahead of myself…. what is Bisikle and what in the world are you supposed to do with this zball?
Bisikle is a bike racing skill game (think Tour de France). Players erect a track out of interconnecting track pieces and then “cycle” around it by flicking a “zball” carefully around corners, over jumps, through tunnels, and then safely back to cross the finish line. Sound too easy? It was really a lot harder then we predicted.
Within our collection of skill games this flicking race game is unique. It has come to my attention that it is not unique within the gaming world though. Pitchcar seems to be an extremely similar game where players flick a wooden disk that represents their car. After reading of the many complaints about that game however, Bisikle seems to squelch a good many of the complaints listed.
The first and most significant improvement made was the quality of components. The Pitchcar track seemed to be lacking and requiring lots of fuss to get a track that lined up. Even then, small gaps existed here and there that would send your wooden token tumbling. Bisikle fits seamlessly together with a simple snap, with no gaps to inhibit your game. We did notice that too much in-game bumping of the track caused it to split and separate, but it was easily snapped back together. We also found that adding the guard rails to stubborn bits of track that kept wanting to pop apart helped to hold it all together.
The parts also consisted of four cyclist pawns. These pawns are made of a heavy plastic and look pretty darn good. A simple token to mark your spot would suffice, but I found this added flair makes the game look really great.
My one complaint about components does not lie in a usual spot. I was frustrated with the instructions in an atypical way. They are painfully simple. Wait, what? Â Did you just say they were too simple? Yep, too simple. The rules consist of one tiny little sheet of instructions that didn’t even begin to cover certain scenarios and that led us to both searching the internet for examples and simply making some judgement calls. This gave me a strong desire to give the designers a good swift kick in the pants for being so vague. Granted it could be the translators fault as the game is actually French, but this didn’t seem like the case.
Final impression? It’s a neat game. It’s very different than most of the things out there, and that’s phenomenal! The components are quality and well thought out. I’ll even let go of the fact that they renamed a basic component. All and all a B+, but if they would add some details to the rules, I would upgrade that to an A.
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