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Pop-Up Pirate!

Pop-Up Pirate! box.

Price: £10.

  • 1 pirate.
  • 1 barrel.
  • 1 barrel base.
  • 24 coloured swords.
  • Stickers.
Gameplay: Players take it in turns sliding swords into holes in the side of the barrel until the pirate pops out. The hole that makes the pirate pop changes with each game.

  • New rules: To be the one to launch the pirate.
  • Old rules: To avoid making the pirate pop up. Each round, the player who launches the pirate is eliminated until only one player is left.
Game length: 1-5 minutes, depending on chance and the decisiveness of those playing.

Number of players: 2-4.

Age: 4+ officially. Children younger than that can manage but they may struggle to insert the swords properly. They're also far more likely to inadvertently lean over the barrel as they do the inserting, thus risking taking a pirate to the chin.

The game is unlikely to hold the attention of children much older than five for long (unless they start experimenting with different projectiles and younger siblings).

Pop-Up Pirate! contents.

Comments: I have fond memories of playing this at a friend's house when I was four or five. Unlike with Mouse Trap, however, it turns out that my recollections have not been corrupted by age and sleep deprivation. Pop-Up Pirate! is actually quite decent. True, there's not really much to it, but that means children of different ages can play it without the older children having an advantage. It's not as frustrating as Snakes and Ladders and the sudden-death nature of the game seems to keep children focussed even when it's not their go. There's little need to keep reminding participants whose turn it is and there's no hunting around for dice last seen being lobbed over a child's own shoulder, ricocheting off the cat and bouncing amongst the wires under the TV unit.

The game can be over almost instantly but this isn't a problem because it can be started-over almost instantly too. It's the kind of game you'd expect to play a few times in a sitting anyway.

Pop-Up Pirate! is exciting, colourful, quick to set up and can be explained in a few words. This makes it a good game for getting visiting children settled.

Conclusion: It's not going to keep them entertained for hours but it's a useful distraction for fifteen minutes every now and then.

  • Short.
  • Simple.
  • Contains a mild element of suspense.
  • Small children are delighted when the pirate pops up.
  • The swords are easily scattered round the house.
  • Putting on the stickers neatly is very difficult. (Those with OCD may want to leave them off to be on the safe side.)
  • It's sometimes possible to insert a sword at a slight angle and avoid tripping the mechanism.
  • I keep wanting to take our one apart to see how it works.
Rating: 4/5.

Pop-Up Pirate!

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