Pack O Review: FLY
Thus far, the best titles in the small-as-a-pack-of-gum Pack O Games — which I only just now realize is a very, very light pun — have navigated the sweet spot between simple and too simple. By presenting a slender set of rules that still gives everyone some latitude in how to behave, games like HUE and GEM seem deeper than their ninety-second explanation would imply, generating tension through the guesswork of who’s in the lead and how to reel them back in.
FLY, on the other hand, is the simplest of the lot. But does that push it into TKO territory?
I’m going to break tradition by explaining, in painful and exacting detail, everything you’ll need to know in order to play FLY. Ready?
You drop a flyswatter onto some flies. There’s a minimum height the swatter must be dropped from. The guy who vanquished the most flies almost always wins.
There you go. As the Fremen would say, Spannungsbogen.
Sure, I could belabor a couple points.
I could talk about how the picnic blanket gets rearranged after every successful swat, realigning strips of tablecloth and putting flies back into proximity, and how this becomes obnoxious because it always makes the strips lie at cattywampus angles and distracts from the actual business of murdering flies. Then I might counter with the outright cutesy-poopsy appeal of the game, which even works its box in as a measuring stick for how close you can hold your swatter — then mention how FLY outdoes itself by making you use your wedding ring or a spare coin to weigh down the box so it doesn’t flop onto its side like a beached whale. Adorable.
I could complain about how the scoring feels almost unnecessary, requiring matching colors but contrasting symbols. Or something. It’s the one thing that gets people asking if they can see the rules for themselves, because we just thought we were tossing a paper flyswatter at some houseflies, but now we’re lining up a bunch of stars and plus-signs. It’s never great when scoring a game feels longer than playing the game.
On the other hand, I’d probably also point out that at least the need to score particular flies gets you thinking about where you’ll drop your swatter other than atop easily-claimed rows.
I might even add that FLY works precisely because it’s a ten-minute filler that actually sticks to its time limit. If it weren’t for all the rearranging you’re forced to sit through, it might even be done in more like six minutes. Not that this is actually much of a big deal. Four minutes isn’t going to make or break the experience. Probably.
But I won’t belabor those things, because the only thing you really need to know about FLY is that it’s a serviceable card-tosser that works fine for those all-too-common families who are allergic to anything trickier. It’s the sort of thing my three-year-old could play, though we totally cheated and awarded her extra flies. She didn’t stick around for the scoring.
However, when we weren’t spoiling the next generation into believing they should always win at everything, FLY was a cute but unimpressive little ditty, notable more for its size than anything else. This isn’t the Pack O Games at its weakest, just its shortest.