Set on the Crazy Japanese Cat Island, Nekojima will have you testing your nerve as you attempt to stack up denchuu (electric wires attached to poles) and balance cats upon them. Play Cooperatively or Competitively whilst avoiding sending the poles tumbling in a tangle of wires.
We first came across this game on Instagram through a couple of videos by other influencers and were rather intrigued by what we saw. So when one of our suppliers got this game in, we jumped at the chance to give it a go ourselves and secure a demo copy ahead of Beachhead 2024.
The game has great table presence, especially once you start building up the denchuu! The box is nicely bright and has a practical organiser inside without wasting too much space. The rules are straightforward and easy to read, as well as including several variants to change up your games, giving you plenty of options on how to play once you've mastered the basics!
Game Play Overview
The two main variants of the game, Cooperative and Competitive, have a similar play style with varying end game goals and a slight difference to the cat placement. Players will take it in turns to roll the dice which dictate which districts you must place your denchuu into. Once this has been established, you'll then draw a random cube from the bag to identify which length wire you must place. The pink wires are the shortest, whilst the blue wires are the longest. If a black cube is drawn, a cat must be placed. How this is placed and who by depends on whether you are playing cooperative or competitive; if you are playing cooperatively, you'll need to place the cat yourself on the denchuu you place this turn. If you are playing competitively, you may choose another player who must place it at the end of their turn onto the denchuu they play. Play continues in turn order until a player knocks over some or all of the installation or all of the denchuu's have been placed. If playing cooperatively, you'll establish your level of victory from the levels board which you place your cubes on as you play. If you're playing competitively, there can only be 1 loser... whichever player knocks it over!
Sounds simple right?! However, when placing the denchuu, you cannot touch the wires (you'll be electrocuted!) and cannot allow the wires to touch the ground or the poles. The different length wires will test out your strategy and puzzling mind, whilst the varying heights of the poles and district placements will test your balancing prowess.
Pros and Cons
Nekojima is a fast paced game of holding your nerve and steadying your hand as you balance the poles. If you struggle with your fine motor skills, this game could become frustrating, but equally could help you improve. It has a really nice mechanism for seeing progress from one game to the next with the level tracker. If you're colour blind, it's a 50:50 game! The districts and dice have been done really well as each colour has a symbol linked to it enabling it to be easily identified, however the same can't be said for the cubes and denchuu which will depend on which type of colour blindness you have as to whether you'll be able to identify which colour is which. The components have been well designed otherwise, with environmentally friendly wooden pieces and a nice quality string. The games is suitable for a variety of ages from young to old and can be replayed numerous times with the variants to game placy included in the rules giving you new challenges to work towards. However, I do feel that the theme is a little lacking, although I can see where they were coming from with it.
Overall, we think this is a great filler game, starter game or game to end the night on! It not only has plenty of fun and enjoyment packed into it, but also a good amount of tension. I can see this becoming a favourite amongst our gaming friends.
In conclusion, we would rate this game a 8.8/10