A yellow cloth banana unzips to reveal a 144 lettered tiles. The black letters are engraved into solid plastic tiles that have the feel of baked and polished clay. The full banana case is comparable to the size of a large, though rather husky, real-life banana, and fits into most purses and glove compartments.
Instructions are included.
Laying face down, tiles are equally distributed between players, with some amount being left alone on the table. This pile of unclaimed tiles is called ‘the bunch,’ and is the draw pile which players will draw additional tiles as needed. The number of tiles players start will doesn’t matter, so long as every player has the same amount.
All at once, players will begin flipping over their tiles and start to make their own crossword puzzle. If a letter is deemed unusable, a player may discard that tile by exchanging it for three more tiles from the bunch. Shouting “peel,” a player indicates they need an additional tile from the bunch, causing every player to also collect a new tile.
Each player works on their own crossword, with the first player to use up all their tiles shouting, “bananas!” That player’s words are assessed, and if there are no spelling mistakes or proper nouns used, that player wins. If an error in spelling or proper noun is found, that player is disqualified and the remaining players start where they left off. This continues until one player is declared the winner.
We have included a video clip above that demonstrates gameplay. Check it out.
This game has a near-cult-like status, seeming to stem from its quick rounds and individually focused play. As each player is working on their own crossword grid, there is no waiting for each other player to take their turn, making it great for those who get impatient with Scrabble. Additionally, because of the individual nature of the game, each player controls all the spaces on their grid without any worry that another player may snag a spot they were planning on using. Since players are racing against one another, it is unlikely that any player will want to spend time meticulously scanning a dictionary before deciding what word to play, again increasing the game speed.
Rounds make take as little as 5 minutes, making it a great morning activity or something to occupy children while waiting in a doctor’s office or restaurant.
Some users have noticed children feeling more confident with their spelling skills after using this game. Adding a competitive edge certainly gives children an incentive to find words among their letter pile, helping reinforce their current spelling skills. We suggest coming up with a spelling list of Bonus Points Words to help children take opportunities to spell out new words.
We want to point out that though this game is not quite as socially engaging as something like Apples to Apples, it does help create a structured activity for children to focus on. Particularly helpful for children (or adults) who may not leap at the chance for small talk, this game can help create a group activity for children to participate in. We recognize that Bananagrams may not fit into Family Night quite like other games, but we do believe that it is a nice addition to a game collection, especially for classrooms.
This game does not require players to wait to take their turn, making it fast and continuous, and also a great game for those times when a quick distraction is needed. It may not help teach children how to wait patiently and politely, but not every game has to.
This game comes in other languages, such as:
Wipe down tiles with a damp cloth
Tiles may become stained if they are scraped against certain surfaces, such as painted tables, so be sure to wipe off any dirt and grime quickly.
Parts and Pieces
Bananagrams can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org in the case of lost or missing tiles. From their site:
“Are replacement tiles available if I've lost some?
Yes. Send us an email via email@example.com with a list of what you need - we'll mail them to you. Well - within reason; don't list all 144 letters!”
Due to the small tiles posing a possible choking hazard, this game should only be used by those old enough to restrain from putting said tiles into their mouths.
We have encountered a number of reports of people purchasing what turns out to be counterfeit versions of this product. A counterfeit can be spotted by the tiles having large circular indents on their backs, and feeling of very lightweight plastic. The authentic version has solid tiles, and feel sturdy. Additionally, the letters are engraved, not just printed on the tile surface.