Review: Gone Bananas
Publisher: Lykeable Products
Year: 1984
Tagline: Who made the play — her fun loving ID, her everyday EGO or her goal-oriented SUPEREGO?

Gone Bananas cover showing three people playing

how we met

I met Gone Bananas in an antique store in, I believe, Waukesha WI. At an antique store I certainly paid more than I usually do at thrift for a stranger game. But the cover is full of “A-Peel,” and I was not going to say no. It was also rare and unpunched. I could not wait to challenge my ID, EGO and SUPEREGO!

how it plays

Gone Bananas is a roll and move game where your ultimate goal is to collect four different colored buttons and to have more WOWs than OWs. Then you win!

Text describing the game and ending with the sentence "But win or lose, you will know that you have been in a game."

You will know that you have been in a game, indeed

This is accomplished by moving your banana pawn around the board, avoiding ZAPPERs that your terrible friends have set up and trying to take PSYDE TRIPS as much as possible to try and get those sweet, sweet buttons.

ZAPPERs can be purchased at the end of your turn for any space, and you can even replace an existing ZAPPER with your own by paying the capture cost. If you land on a ZAPPER of another player then only bad things happen to you. You may have to take OWs, give up WOWs or even lose a button!

Sample ID, OW and EGO cards which resemble tickets

Yes, the cards you collect could probably be used to enter you in a raffle

It is true that some of the gameplay might sound familiar. We do not have a jail, but we do have a NUT HUT. We do not have free parking but we have a FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH and HALFWAY HOUSE.

Banana pawn on the Nut Hut space

Passing through the Nut Hut

Each of our personality parts have their own chance card decks: ID, EGO and SUPEREGO.

Sample chance cards

Good example of chance cards and the humor of the game

There is also a gambling element where landing on any square that gives you a CHANCE OF LIFE allows you to bet up to your number of certain cards like ID cards and roll the dice. If you roll one of the lucky numbers 2, 5, 6, 7, 8 or 12 then you win and get a 1:1 return on your bet.

Many cards or squares require you to pay in a certain thing at a certain amount such as two EGOs or two IDs, etc. If you are not able to pay in then you collect two OWs.

If it sounds like Gone Bananas has a lot going on, it does. But it starts to gel pretty quickly and things get a bit more interesting and just a tad more aggressive as play continues.

how it went

When I was starting to explain the rules, Keri pretty much nailed it by saying, “OK so it’s like the Game of Life but we are bananas.” Throw in a little Monopoly and that statement is 100% accurate.

The board looks busy, and it’s one of those games where you are like let’s just start playing because wherever you land we will have to figure out what happens. Gone Bananas does a decent job of having those spaces on the board explain what happens, and very few required reference to the rulebook.

The game board with colors and text everywhere

Ever drawing your eye to the Banana Bank

Only a couple of people had ZAPPERs in play. I must have been unclear on when you can buy them, and so people felt they had to land in the area to purchase a ZAPPER. In actuality, that option is available to you at the end of every single turn for any space.

Once John had a ZAPPER in play, it was clear how that can really turn the game around. The first fly you catch in your web may not be that great, and maybe not the second one either. But from there the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. It is much like having a monopoly in the game Monopoly.

components including buttons, pawns, dice and zappers

Example components including the banana pawns

Keri decided during gameplay that she would go all in every turn that she was able to gamble, and I was very proud of her. This happened after our encouragement for a large bet that did not work out for her. So why not?

In the end John won. His ZAPPER strategy paid off, as well as just happening to be able to collect all the buttons first.

play or pass

Play. I think we all started the game feeling like let’s just get through this Monopoly/Life hybrid and make a bunch of banana jokes. But I will say the game grew on me throughout play. Gone Bananas does pull off subtle aggression. I would have played it again right away if we had not had a stack of games waiting for our attention. And it definitely pokes fun at psychoanalysis in a gentle way, but in a way that is unlikely to be duplicated today.

I encourage play despite the fact that the game was designed by a psychologist who went so far as to patent it. This might be the only game I own with a patent, I’m not sure.