Real time games are a breed unto themselves. Combine that with a cooperative element and you’re really pruning the tree of potential games. An even more challenging proposition is to find one which is age-appropriate and able to be played with the whole family. I’m here to tell you that Devir Games and designer Dario Dordoni have accomplished this task with Fast Food Fear, all in a box the size of a paperback book. How does it play, and should you pick it up for your family? Keep reading and all will be made clear!
Wait, What’s a “Real Time” Game?
If you already know the answer to this one, then you can skip ahead. Yes you’re very clever.
Real time games usually have a timer of some sort, perhaps a digital timer like Fuse from Renegade Games, or an hourglass like Fast Food Fear does. In some cases, there is no timer but everyone is racing to finish the game like in Tenzi from Carma Games. Generally you play them as fast as you can before either the timer runs out, or your daughter Noelle beats you to the end of the round. And no, I’m not bitter.
Setting up Fast Food Fear
Setup for Fast Food Fear is really simple. Separate the red-backed cards (the ingredients), and the blue-backed cards (the monsters, ahem, I mean customers). Give them a good shuffle and deal six red-backed ingredient cards to each player. Then deal one monster card per player, plus one, to the center of the table. So in a 4 player game, you’d be playing with 5 total monsters. Give one player the “Monster Chef” card and you’re good to go.
Oh, and don’t forget that timer. The Monster Chef’s job is to manage that for the entire game, so pick someone responsible…or someone you don’t mind throwing under the bus.
How About That Art?
Let’s take a quick closeup look at the delightful art from designer Demis Savini. These monsters are bright and colorful, gross and slimy, with just the right amount of scariness. Not too spooky for the tots, laughable and silly for the older ones.
The art style is really great, everything is composed of simple geometric shapes, but they’re put together so well. The food looks great, and makes me just a bit hungry! Two dimensional sushi anyone?
How do You Play Fast Food Fear?
All of the monsters are waiting in line to get their food, and you have to feed them in order. This means that players will have to feed Igor first, then Aaron, then Eric, and finally Bob. Each monster will eat between 3 and 5 items and some of the items are rarer than others. Here’s a handy dandy chart which illustrates all of the types of food, and how many of each of these cards are in the deck. In other words, don’t throw away sushi and donuts if you can help it.
You win the game by feeding all of the monsters before the timer runs out, but there’s some rules you’ll have to follow. After all, we can’t just have you throwing food at these creatures now can we?
- Creatures must be fed in order. When the first creature in line is completely fed, remove them from the line and move on to the next one.
- Each monster must receive their food all at once. This means that only one player can lay down all of the cards for that monsters meal.
As mentioned before, Fast Food Fear is a real time game which starts when the Monster Chef flips that sand timer.
On Your Turn
On your turn you’ll have the following choices:
- Feed a monster
- Play 1 event card
- Discard 1 card and pass
A typical hand of cards will look something like this. Mostly made up of food cards, and the smattering of event cards.
We’ve already talked about the monster and food cards, so let’s take a quick look at the event cards. They’re a mix of special abilities including being able to pass cards to other players, discard more than one card, and most importantly flip over the sand timer. I’ll bet you were worried about that timer weren’t you?
Ending the Game
Winning the game is a great juggling act. Because a monster needs to be fed completely by one player, you’re constantly talking to each other, shouting what cards you have, and how you can get the donut and french fries over to Brigitte because she also has the burger and pizza for Igor. Feed that last monster then revel in your victory. If you’re playing with your kids, give them lots of high fives!
Play continues around the table with each player taking the above actions until you either feed all the monsters, or the timer runs out. Then you either celebrate your victory or bemoan your defeat.
Now go sweep the floor because it’s closing time!
Do I Like Fast Food Fear?
I sure do! As mentioned before, real time games are hit or miss for some people. This one’s light enough, and fast enough, that even people who don’t like stress will enjoy themselves. Knock a game out in 15 minutes or so, and play again, or not.
As a father of four, I always have to balance out playing by the rules with making sure my kids are having fun. If your kids are struggling with the “play all foods at once” rule, then change it up so that a player can play just one part of the food for a monster. If that’s too easy, then add more monsters until it balances out.
I should also note that while the kids love this game, it doesn’t just have to be a “kids game”. Call this a light filler game and your adult friends will have a great time.
There are certainly some downsides to this game. If you’re averse to games with a high degree of luck, then you might not enjoy Fast Food Fear. Because it’s a pure card game, you could go several turns without getting a card that you need. Also, if you don’t enjoy cooperating with other people…well then this one is definitely not for you. Might I suggest a good game of Solitaire?
As a cooperative game, Fast Food Fear is great for families, or even teams of people who need to improve their communication skills. At no time does someone think that the house in the game is going to catch on fire, or a bomb is going to blow up, or the world will die from a global pandemic. It’s just a bunch of monsters waiting for their food. Turn on the lights in your kitchen, start up the stovetop, and start making some Fast Food Fear. The monsters are coming, and boy are they hungry.