My first thought when I think about Anatomy Park is how just much I’ve loved theme parks since I was a kid.
The first “adult” book I read was when I was 11, and it was Jurassic Park. Before that, Westworld, the original film with James Brolin and Yul Brynner always stared at me from the VHS rental place. Hell, the new Westworld is fantastic and the Simpsons with Itchy and Scratchyland.
It’s in my blood, so to speak.
So when I found out that Cryptozoic, makers of awesome games, including Mr. Meseeks Box of Fun, Total Rickall and other licensed properties, were making a game based on Anatomy Park, you bet your ass I was stoked.
Welcome to Anatomy Park!
If you’re a Rick and Morty fan already, you know that this game is based on an episode of the show itself. For those unaware, Rick and Morty are the main characters of the show. There aren’t many clues to let you in on that, but it’s something we’ve deduced over time. In the episode, Rick, a brilliant scientist, has created a theme park inside the body of a bum he knows, Ruben. Rick then shrinks himself and his grandson Morty and heads into the amazing Anatomy Park ala Fantastic Voyage (or inner space if you prefer some martin short action)!
The game takes this concept and expands on it as an alternate universe of sorts where the characters are actively building Anatomy Park, piece by piece.
2-4 players can pick a character from the episode, Dr. Xenon Bloom, Roger, Alice, Poncho or, of course, Rick or Morty to help realize their dream of the perfect theme park.
One of the great things I initially noticed, pulling out the pieces, is that there are a good few nods to specific aspects of the episode. So for those wanting to see Pirates of the Pancreas succeed, you’ll finally have your chance. Hell, if you want to ride “The Bone Train”, or know any friends that may want to ride “The Bone Train”, you might just have the opportunity to ride “The Bone Train”
/Insert Morty “ok, we get it”
The nods and familiarity go a long way to helping with the immersion of the gameplay experience. I tested the game out with friends who were familiar with the episode, so I can’t say how a person who’d never seen the show would feel about it.
The game play itself is fairly straightforward. Each player turn goes in three phases: discard any tiles if necessary, a distinct move phase, and an action phase. For the discard, if your character is on a tile that has a disease on it (yes, that’s right, fan favorite Hepatitis C is here) the player must discard.
During the move phase, a player can pick one of a few options: Move their character, move a disease (if in play) or move a tile to rearrange and shift the park around.
In the action phase, the player can pick one of 5 actions: Draw 2 tiles, place a tile, Play a Focus Group card, Shoot at a disease, or Exit Ruben.
The ultimate goal for the players is to strategically place tiles, earning them Victory Points, and to have as many as they can by the time either: all the tiles are gone or Ruben has a heart attack.
For the tiles, there are multiple types, Food, Attraction, or Ride that are color coded. Certain tiles require specific tiles next to them. For example, you may not be able to place The Funny Bone tile unless there are 2 brown tiles adjacent to it.
There’s also Focus Group tiles that you can play that allow you to place tiles under certain conditions and gain extra victory points as a reward. Look, if you give the people what they want, you should be rewarded, is all I’m saying.
Inside the bodily reaction deck, there are several cards that simulate the effects building a big ass theme park in a person will do. Sharting, headaches, bloating, you name it. Actions like placing certain tiles, moving tiles, and missing an attack on a disease force the player to draw these cards. Among the cards are 2 Heart attack cards. Once one card is drawn, it signals the game will end within 2 turns. This means the player must get to one of Ruben’s “exit tiles” and use an action to exit (granting them 3 VP’s). If the other heart attack card is drawn before the end of the two turns, the game ends immediately.
The heart attack cards are shuffled into the bottom half of the deck, so games don’t end immediately on the first draw of a bodily reaction card, so no worries there. Plus, despite the seeming urgency of the heart attacks, there’s no penalty for not getting to an exit in time. I’m going to say that’s where house rules come into play.
Speaking of house rules, although the rules for the game are spelled out fairly simply in the instruction manual, there were times when a move or action was brought up that wasn’t specified. It’s not a game changer, necessarily, but definitely forces someone to be sure of what their house rules are for certain actions.
For the game pieces themselves, the material for the characters and the diseases is solid. The tiles are thick and well crafted, although there were a few typos here and there, I fully expect those to be knocked out before actual release. The player cards that display a character’s movement, attack, attack range, and special ability are good quality. A note about special ability: the times I’ve played we completely forgot about the special abilities for each character; they definitely might have changed how badly I beat everyone before, haha.
The Victory points buttons are little circles with 1’s on one side and 3’s on the other. They are small and a little tedious to handle, to be honest. For the second game, I went with a simpler method of tally marks on a piece of scratch paper. It went far smoother.
There are also “Master Plan” cards for a more advanced version of the game. These cards are dealt to the players and show specific color combinations for tiles. If, at the end of the game, the tiles in play match up color wise to the player’s Master Plan card, they get additional Victory points and could mean a change in the winner.
Overall, the gameplay is really smooth. I played a 2 player game and a 3 player game. The 2 player game, especially in strategy games other than chess, isn’t as streamlined as I’d hope. There’s a little less strategy involved and some downtime between turns. If I chose to draw two tiles on my turn, then player 2 drew 2 tiles, and neither of us still had tiles to play, it kinda made things drag.
The 3 player game had an instant strategy boost when it came to dealing with pushing others into the line of fire for diseases, rearranging tiles (to get more victory points), and screwing up your opponents plan for a successful park. Maybe the 2 player game was me playing with my wife, so a certain level of “do you want to sleep on the couch tonight?”
The game is for up to 4 players, though I wasn’t entirely clear on why it couldn’t go beyond that. One of these days I’d like to try a 6 player game to see how that affects flow and strategy.
I can tell you that I really enjoy the hell out of the game, even beyond it being a Rick and Morty tie-in. My wife, who isn’t always a fan of games with strategy, even enjoyed it. I can’t get her to play a game of Betrayal at House on the Hill or even Catan, but she wants to play this again. The playstyle isn’t super cutthroat for multiple players but offers up enough competition for those that want it.
Even if you’re not a huge, die-hard Rick and Morty fan, Anatomy Park is DEFINITELY a game I recommend. If you ARE a huge, die-hard Rick and Morty fan, you can bet your bottom dollar, you’ll dig it!
I highly recommend heading out to your local game shops or online, July 12th, to grab your copy of Anatomy Park!
Finally, special thanks to Cryptozoic for hooking us up with this first look and thank you for watching!
/play Jurassic Park theme
If you want to hear more about the game, be sure to check out Ep 24 of Interdimensional RSS: The Unofficial Rick and Morty Podcast on iTunes, Podbean, Stitcher and everywhere else podcasts are distributed. You can also head to www.apatheticenthusiasm.com or follow us on Twitter @RickandMortyPod
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