I would imagine, to a game designer, each of life’s moments presents an opportunity. They simply must for a game like Paku Paku to exist. How else does a disheveled pile of dollhouse dishes end in shouting panda-themed madness?
Panda, fill thine belly!
Each of the five wooden dice in Paku Paku contains some combination of green smiling pandas, red dish icons, and/or the numbers one and two. At the outset, these dice are passed out one at a time until they are all out. With up to eight players, some may begin empty-handed. In the center of the table are twenty four plain white Barbie dishes (plates, bowls, and cups), a handful of penalty markers, and a Table board.
One…two…three…Paku Paku! Simultaneously, players begin rolling the dice in front of them. When a number comes up, they roll again. When a smiling panda comes up, that die is passed left. When a red dish comes up, a single dish must be added to the stack in the center of the table board before rolling again. If at any time a player is rolling more than the allotted limit of dice (which changes, depending on the player count) or if they knock over the stack of dishes, someone yells Paku, Stop! The offending player then rolls the dice in front of them, collecting penalty tokens equal to any numbers rolled.
Folks get frantic with the dice. They grunt in frustration. They giggle in delight. They marvel at unimaginable standing dish configurations. The game continues in rounds until someone has ten points. The lowest score earns a victory.
Panda, I bid thee cease!
Paku Paku has been an intermittent visitor to our table. It’s a tiny box that makes a brief mess and a bit of noise. Assuming he had all the pieces handy, I’d imagine it only took Antoine Bauza a little longer to design this one than it takes to play. For a long time, I’ve wondered what it would be like to buy or make enormous dice to play with real dishes.
I’m not much for dexterity games, so a game spent wildly stacking plastic cups and bowls is not my ideal. Neither am I a proponent of loud, grabby-reachy games. But I love the sound of laughing children—and laugh they do. In a nutshell, Paku Paku is a few minutes of frivolous fun that occupies a small footprint on the shelf until needed.