Playtime: 15-30 Minutes
Ubongo is a series of puzzle games that have been around since 2003. The core gameplay throughout the series is the same with a few variants here and there. Ubongo Extreme is a variant that follows the usual Ubongo formula but throws in a new tile to add more depth to the experience.
As mentioned, Ubongo Extreme plays a lot like previous Ubongo games but adds new puzzles and tiles to challenge players with. The new tiles, called polyhex tiles, are made up of a few hexagons. Players will piece tiles together to match the pattern on the puzzle board provided to them. Everyone plays at the same time, making this a race for players to complete the puzzles and score points.
The first player who completes their puzzle shouts “Ubongo.” This starts a twenty-second timer. The remaining players need to solve their puzzles within that time limit. If they don’t, they will not score any points during the round. Even worse, the first player who completed their puzzle steals the points of any player who does not finish their own. After eight puzzles, players will tally up their scores. Whoever has the most points wins the game.
Ubongo Extreme breezes forward, with most games taking between 15 to 30 minutes to play. That playtime varies depending on the skill levels of the players. Regardless of how long it takes, Ubongo Extreme has a great flow. It constantly engages players. There is no downtime, making the game feel active in a way that not too many tabletop games do. This raises the appeal for families with children who might have short attention spans.
Speaking of families and children, Ubongo Extreme is fantastic for them. Ubongo Extreme is a game that will teach younger people how to identify patterns. It also teaches how to solve problems. It makes for a great educational experience that is enjoyable by people of all ages and experience levels.
There are two different difficulty levels for players to utilize, which helps to add to Ubongo Extreme’s longevity. The puzzles are on cards, and each card has four sets of tiles that limit what players can use. Every round features different tiles that must be used. This system allows for Ubongo Extreme to last for many playthroughs. more importantly, players won’t memorize patterns and solutions. There is a lot of value in Ubongo Extreme, and those who enjoy the mechanics will get countless hours out of it.
Ubongo Extreme’s aesthetic is simple. The tiles are simple and monochromatic. Putting the pieces together leads to a somewhat colorful puzzle solution. It’s not an ugly game to look at, but it isn’t anything special either. The small, simple package allows for the game to be portable and affordable. This leads to an understandable tradeoff. The quality of the pieces themselves is fine. The tiles and cards will last for many playthroughs with adequate care. Everything comes in a small package that is easy to take on the go, making it a great game to bring on trips.
Ubongo Extreme brings in a few twists to the formula and still keeps the heart of the original. The active style of play keeps it engaging, making it easy to recommend for all groups. This is a fine game for someone looking to get into Ubongo. It’s also a fine upgrade for those wanting new puzzles.