by Transmute Jun
Although toy company Funko Inc. has been making toys since 1998, it is best known amongst pop culture fans as the maker of Pop! vinyl figures. While Pop!s and their booths on exhibit hall floors are now ubiquitous throughout the many con events happening around the world each year, the company is far from a one-trick pony. Funko has been consistently releasing different products and expanding into new areas such as plushies, apparel, bags, Pez holders, and even its own brand of cereal. Funko’s latest venture may be its boldest yet, into the world of board games.
Tabletop games are big business, with a $12 billion annual global market. While the marketplace is crowded, Funko is making a splash by combining its new Funkoverse game with proven intellectual properties and its well-known Pop! figures. I had a chance to demo this new game at this year’s GenCon, the premiere gaming convention in North America, which was held August 1-4, 2019. Funko hosted a large booth in the Exhibit Hall, showing off the Funkoverse, which will not be officially released until October 1st. However, attendees who signed up for a chance to play the game received a special wristband, which allowed them to purchase the game as early as August 1st. These advance-ticketed demonstration session were run for all four days of the con, and were sold out, despite the late release of event spots in the GenCon registration system. Fans were clearly excited to see what Funko had to offer, and the red wristbands that allowed the purchase of the game were a coveted item amongst attendees.
The Funkoverse is a single game, but is being released under four different intellectual properties: Harry Potter, DC superheroes, Rick & Morty, and The Golden Girls. The first three versions of the game were available for playing at GenCon, with The Golden Girls version available for viewing and purchase only. The mechanics of each version are the same, meaning that the games can be mixed-and-matched, or even combined for bigger play. While at first glance this may simply seem as if a single game has been re-skinned for different fandoms, the appeal lies in the individual characters themselves. Each playable character has unique abilities and properties, such that altering these characters gives the game an entirely new flavor. Players could theoretically play in hundreds of different situations by combining the characters in new ways. Additionally, the unique abilities, while stemming from the individual characters’ personalities and accomplishments, can cause game-changing effects that may be completely unexpected for the players. I discovered this when demoing the Harry Potter version of the game, working hard to ‘kill’ the Voldemort character, only to discover that Voldemort doesn’t ‘die’ and immediately regenerates on the board, rather than being forced into a cool down period, as other characters must do. In hindsight, we all should have known that, right?
These unique character abilities also mean that there is a lot of fun to be had in mixing up the various sets. Who wouldn’t want to see Rose Nylund take out the Joker in the Potions Classroom at Hogwarts, or Bellatrix Lestrange going head-to-head with Morty Smith on the streets of Gotham?
The basic premise of the game is for 2 or 4 players to play as two teams of 1 or 2, going head-to-head to see which team can collect a set number of victory points (6 for the demo games) first. Points can be acquired by collecting tokens, by ‘killing’ other players, or by capturing the flag of the other team. While this may sound simple, it truly is the individual character abilities that add interest and excitement to the Funkoverse. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that each playable character comes with its own unique 3-inch Pop! figure, which moves about the board on a special base. While only 2 characters come with each basic game purchase, more boards and character sets will be made available, allowing further expansion and interaction for players.
Check out the gameplay of the DC Funkoverse game!
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