You don’t have to remember the Electric Slide, the Boogaloo, the Bus Stop, and the Hustle to enjoy the new family-focused card game Kangaroo Disco Mania, but it might help just a little bit. Actually busting out a move is optional, but this fun pattern-matching game by Caleb Burley is still best played with a solid disco music playlist jammin’.
The game supports three types of play: Spotlight (solo), Disco Mania (2-4 players), and Line Dance (5 or more players). I focused on Spotlight play for this review (while listening to the Bee Gees and the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack, coincidentally the first double LP I ever bought when I was younger!)
ANATOMY OF A KANGAROO DISCO MANIA CARD
Let’s start by looking at the cards. The deck itself is comprised of 102 cards that all look like this:
Cards have one or more icons along the top and bottom rows – that’s what you’ll be matching – and a point value in the center of the card that reflects how common matches are across the full deck. For example, the leftmost card, “Clap Hands”, has a low point value because it has five different icons along the top and two along the bottom. The center card, “Backflip”, is worth five points because it only has a single icon on the top and bottom, making it much harder to match.
A card you’re holding matches another if there’s an icon on the top of your card that matches an icon on the bottom of the other card. Conversely, for a card to match your own, its top icons must match your bottom icons. For example, Clap Hands would match BackFlip (disco ball on both), but BackFlip wouldn’t match Clap Hands. As a result, the order of play is quite important!
SPOTLIGHT (SOLO) GAME BASICS
Kangaroo Disco Mania is a matching game, and the Spotlight game has you playing both your hand and that of your invisible opponent. I’ll call him Bruce and he’s the scourge of the dancefloor, shirt open, hair slicked back, and a hairy chest featuring his gold chain collection. You know the type. For the initial step he’s going to get four cards to our five but subsequently, we’ll be matching up an even 5-card hand each. Here’s the initial deal:
Bruce is along the top, we’re along the bottom, and there are two decks of facedown cards: On the left, the short deck is the Spotlight, with the topmost card to be flipped over momentarily. The taller deck is, well, the deck. Crickey, you coulda figured that one out, mate!
Each turn consists of Perfect Match Cancels, Point Value Pairs, revealing the Spotlight card, then playing as many matching cards from both hands to see who has the higher point value set of moves to win that round. Perfect Match is easy: Do the tops of any of your cards perfectly match, icon for icon, the bottom of any of the other hand? If so, both are removed. Point Value Pairs allows you to remove pairs of equal point value cards from Bruce’s deck at the cost of also discarding your own lowest point value card.
Eagle-eyed readers will have noticed that there is a perfect match between Disco Finger in Bruce’s hand and The Lawnmower in our hand:
The result: both cards are discarded prior to the Spotlight being revealed. Nice! Bruce also has a pair of two-point cards, which will be discarded, along with our own 1 point “Sway” card. Now it’s down to Bruce having one card and us having three. Who will match the Showcase move?
It’s time to flip up the first Showcase card, actually, which turns out to be “Chicken Legs”. Again, remember it’s the bottom of that card that must match one or more icons on the top of a card in the player’s hand, whether it’s our hand or Bruce’s hand. The result:
Bruce matches the dancing silhouette for 4 points, but all three of our cards match the pointing finger, resulting in 5 points. We win the first Showcase! Groovy, baby.
The Showcase card is flipped sideways adjacent to the player as a trophy and it’s time to deal out however many cards are required for each player to have five in their hand. Well, almost. Every time you gain a trophy, it lowers your hand size by one card. So Bruce is now going to have five cards while we only have four. The reverse of the initial setup!
CONTINUING THE SHOWCASE DANCE BATTLE
As the game proceeds, it becomes more difficult to match Showcase cards and earn trophies because player hands keep shrinking. Even Bruce isn’t immune. This is a balancing technique common in games and it allows a player that’s falling behind to have a better chance to catch up to Bruce and hopefully beat the egotistical twit and win the Kangaroo Disco Mania spotlight dance battle!
Here’s round two, dealt out and ready to play:
Remember, the order is Perfect Match discards, then Point Value Pairs, two of his discarded, along with our lowest point value card, then reveal the Showcase card and match it, highest overall point value winning this round. When it comes time for the Showcase in this round, here’s how it goes:
Hard luck, Bruce. We won again. Cor, it’s nice to be the best dancer at the disco! We’re definitely stayin’ alive at this rate, impressing our dancing queen with our personal disco inferno!
Bruce lucks out and wins the next round, so it’s two to one, as the rotated cards reveal in this last round:
If you count cards, for goodness sake, don’t go to Vegas. Wait, that’s not what I mean to say. This ridiculously loud music is addling my brain… What I mean to say is that if you count cards, you’ll see that Bruce started with 4 cards in his hand and we started with 3 (due to trophies from previous rounds) but had a pair-versus-lowest-point-value discard.
With the Showcase move being a “Backflip” it’s potentially time for the final dance off. The icon to match on the Backflip card is a disco ball. Do either of Bruce’s cards have that icon along the top? No! How about our hand? Yes! Clap Hands has a disco ball and it might only be worth one point, but the right move at the right time can definitely win the night!
THOUGHTS ABOUT KANGAROO DISCO MANIA
While this is a simple matching game, the theme is very fun and the artwork is lively and sure to engage young ‘uns in a quick-paced game. I reviewed a prototype deck so there were some definite problems with the instructions on the quick reference cards (the explanation herein is the result of emailing back and forth with the developer). Showcase (solo) mode is a bit dry without anything to bring fun or laughter to the game, but the multiplayer games, both Disco Mania and Line Dance, definitely appeal.
With such a simple basic mechanism, Kangaroo Disco Mania is a definite party game for the fam, not one to crack open with your gaming group. If you’re only interested in solo mode, well, there are better solo games out there.
Kangaroo Disco Mania, by game developer Caleb Burley. $18. Coming to Kickstarter summer 2022.
Disclosure: Caleb sent me a copy of Kangaroo Disco Mania in return for this candid review. Thanks, mate! Also, any resemblance between Caleb and Bruce is entirely coincidental.