Here He Comes to Save the Day

Nice sweats.

A couple years back, a pair of game designers got bonkers drunk and were determined to make famous author Dan Brown’s rabid anti-Catholic dreams a reality. Under cover of darkness, they broke into CERN’s Large Hadron Collider, loaded it up with two of their favorite games — Jenga and Uno (also one of my favorites) — and cranked it up to God Particle Mode. They expected the result would be something like Uno Stacko, but thanks to a rhino horn that had inexplicably become jammed in the flubby-dub flam shaft, the result was…

RHINO HERO.

Seems dangerous to climb it during construction, but when there are people in need, there are people in need.

Climb that tower, Rhino Hero…

Like Jenga, Rhino Hero is all about balance — as in actual physical stability, the need for steady hands and careful placement of its pieces as it sees you building a tower floor by floor. Like Uno, it’s also about being a dick to your friends by playing cards that skip their turn, reverse the order of play, or make them draw extra cards. Like both, it’s not a particularly serious game.

Unlike both, however, it also features a pajama-clad rhinoceros. But we’ll get back to that in a second.

Coming in a tiny box that could be tinier still, Rhino Hero revolves around two types of cards: walls, bent at ninety-degree angles to support your ever-growing structure, and roofs, which you lay across the walls to create each new level, and which also do mean things to your opponents. Picture a table of friends building a house of cards and occasionally doing something mean in hopes of making someone else topple the tower, and you won’t be too far off what this game is about. There are ways to score, ways to “win,” but really it’s just about not being the oaf who spilled a deck of cards over the edge of the table.

We'll mount his horn in his favorite spot over our hearth. It's what he would have wanted.

RIP Rhino Hero.

Better yet, there’s a big fat tubby wrench tossed into the works. His name is — three guesses — RHINO HERO. And he’s awful. Oh, I’m sure he’s nice enough, heart in the right place and all that, but every so often someone will play a card that will force you to move him from his current position to the topmost floor, and in response you might say a word that isn’t appropriate for the game’s recommended age. The tower is already wobbly, constructed from flimsy cards and shuddering every time someone bumps the table, and by comparison this wooden piece could weigh as much as a… well, a rhinoceros. Once you’ve gone up a half-dozen floors, you’re as likely to bring the whole thing down by moving chunky old Rhino Hero from where he was anchoring the structure’s weight as by putting him down too hard.

Surprisingly, the result is sublime. Here, I’ll show you:

I think the takeaway from that video ought to be just how hilarious this game can be. It’s a kid game, obviously, and I’m sure there’s someone out there too intent on their adulthood to play something so joyous.

Their loss. Truly, they’re missing out, because as a filler game Rhino Hero is just about perfect. It’s light, memorable, simple, not particularly competitive, and it’s guaranteed to bring a smile to even the grumpiest player’s face. I might even be tempted to insert an easy joke about how he’s the hero we need and deserve, but in truth Rhino Hero is a cold flabby bastard, ready to wreck everything at a moment’s notice. He might even be considered the villain of this story, if such a cheerful game could possibly contain a villain.

Point is, there are lots of games on my radar right now, and Rhino Hero is the one I liked enough to write about today. Give him a shot; he might surprise you — though I guarantee it’ll be at an inopportune moment.

Posted on May 6, 2015, in Board Game and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. This looks like fun! Maybe I’ll pick it up as a silly filler to reset before another thinky game!

  2. Oddly enough… I’ve actually played this one. And I loved it.

  3. The article was good and all, but what’s the music in the video? That was sublime…

  4. zekeromsdahl

    There is something deeply philosophical about the underlying futility of Rhino Hero. He deeply desires to climb higher, yet each level is shakier than the last. He fights and fights, but only hastens his own destruction. At the end of the day, I think a little Rhino Hero is in all of us.

  5. This one has been on my radar lately. Looks like a blast. Thanks for the review, and the video!

  1. Pingback: Rhino Hero: Civil War | SPACE-BIFF!

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