Jasper and Zot
Teaching Time: 5 mins
Playing Time: 20-40 mins
Setup Time: 1 mins
Value For Money: High
Price: Print and Play
Solo Play Review
While I pick up little bits of graphic design and even occasional illustration I can't actually draw and remain fundamentally jealous of people able to draw as well as is displayed almost casually by Jasper and Zot, a simple one player time filler. The game is a neat, easy build, a single page of board and tokens and needs only two dice and the traditional opaque cup or bag for randomizing tokens.
The game consists of generating zombies and other elements in set patterns by rolling dice and picking tokens. The zombies come down the board from Zot with the intention of smashing Jasper's (your) prize winning pumpkins. As Jasper you can zap zombies, turning them into flower beds, and then set them on fire. Fire chains along flowerbeds and zombies generate your score. This continues until you kill through enough zombies or get all of your precious pumpkins smashed up, at which point you add up your score.
Play feels very much like a time filler game app, somewhere between Plants Vs Zombies and Space Invaders, which is not a bad thing by any means. It plays smoothly, looks great and has just enough challenge to distract without being demanding. With a knee tray in front of the telly you could be playing any of a range of good quality time waster phone or tablet games. Which is the biggest problem with Jasper and Zot since the game you're recreating is widely available and less fiddly on various devices. The player lacks much agency with achieving a decent score mostly dependent on enemies random generation patterns rather than planning and engagement. Over a few plays I found my score to have very little to do with my learning the game, in fact my first play through was one of my best scores. The game lacks the depth of puzzle sufficient to hold the attention long term but does make a decent time filler. No ranking system is included, so I found myself scoring around 130-150 points with no real idea if this was a good score or not. An alternative play mode would have been nice but is understandably absent given the small and neat package that the game makes.
As an aside, the rules of Jasper and Zot are a wonderful thing. Many fantastically presented Print and Plays chuck out their rules as a set of A4 pages making storage of the game about storage of the rules. The rules here are both clear, well presented and with lovely illustrations (its actually described as rules and colouring book, although I fear that actually colouring it in would ruin the lovely simplicity of the illustrations) but are also set into a neat leaflet format that folds into the same size as the board. Its a small thing but it makes keeping the game long term simple and satisfying.
This is a flawlessly presented solo time filler game, lacking in long term depth but with plenty of fun for the short term.