With the feeling of a classic card game, albeit with a couple of surprising elements that deliver some clever strategic twists, Hungry Monkey is a game that’s straightforward to pick up and has a moreish quality that ensures one game is never quite enough.

Plot-wise, we have the thinnest of setups to justify what is essentially an abstract card game: the titular, famished simian has lost his breakfast bean and calls upon the other animals to help him. Ignoring him, they only took notice and agreed to assist once King Tiger – spurred on by Tiny Ant’s voice in his ear – ordered them all to help.

It’s mostly irrelevant though; essentially, all you’ll be doing is playing a card from your hand onto the pile of animal cards. Generally, you’ll need to lay a card with a higher number than that currently on top of the pile, though Ants (with a value of 1) are always legal and Buffaloes (value 8) have an effect requiring the next player to play an 8 or lower.

Other cards have effects too: Ants are always legal and they will often cause players to take cards from the animal pile. King Tiger (value 11) discards the entire animal pile, protecting other players – and themselves – from the effects of other cards. Hungry Monkey cards clone whatever they’re on top of, including the effects. Sparrow cards allow you to switch one card from your hand with one in your face down row.

Ah yes, the face down row. So not only do you have cards in your hand but also in a row in front of you; the aim of the game is to get rid of both hand and face down cards before anyone else.

Which is trickier than it sounds; if you have no legal cards in hand, you’ll need to use the top card of the deck – if it turns out that’s not legally, congratulations: you now have to take the entire animal pile!

There’s a little more to it than that and the different animal effects take a few turns to learn (not helped by slightly awkward rules that set some important stuff off to the side and aren’t quite as clear as they should be regarding some concepts).

However, once you’ve got your head around the slightly unusual mechanics and get into the rhythm of the game, it’s a genuinely fast paced experience and is something that’s suitable for all ages.

The card artwork is beautifully appealing – not just the animals but the overall exotic look of the cards too – and, even better, everything is eco-friendly and compact to boot.

If theme isn’t important to you, this is a great game that feels like a step up from sometimes monotonous, drawn out, mainstream fare like Uno.

Though it could use a bit of refinement in terms of its rule book, once you get to grips with Hungry Monkey, it’ll be something that no doubt hits the table quite a bit!

You can purchase Hungry Monkey from Amazon here.

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