Review: Care Bears: On the Path to Care-a-Lot
Publisher: Parker Brothers
Year: 1983
Tagline: A Game of Happy Feelings from Parker Brothers

Cover is blue and shows care bears and rainbows all around it

how we met

I recently went through a bout of (what google tells me is called) Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon on the topic of Care Bears, meaning I started seeing them everywhere. This all began when I was looking through an old photo album and paused on a photo of my sister and me some Christmas morning holding our new Care Bears. Bill looked over my shoulder at this moment, only glanced really, and said, “Those Care Bears are fake.”

Two girls with toys all around them, each holding a Care Bear
The image in question. Oh, how happy I was with my giant Funshine Bear

When I looked back at the photo it seemed suddenly obvious. The proportions were all strange. I immediately texted my sister and asked if she knew our Care Bears were fake. She replied, “LOL!!! Of course they were fake! You didn’t know that?!” No, I didn’t.

I don’t remember even wanting a Care Bear, so this event was not as traumatizing as I like to make it out to be. But I suddenly started seeing Care Bears everywhere. They were new in stores as part of the throwbacks that are all the rage now, but also at thrift shops and toy shows. And I found this game within a few days. I needed to exorcise these demons, so I bought it.

how it plays

Care Bears: On the Path to Care-a-Lot is a matching game where you have little star markers with symbols on them. When any player spins and lands on a symbol matching one of your markers, you can move the marker onto your board.

A shot of the empty icon spaces and the star chips with matching icons sitting just outside
The star markers sit outside the board until you match them, then they move onto their space

The goal is to fill up all of the spaces so that you can race to Care Bear Castle and be welcomed by Tenderheart Bear. If all of your markers are complete then you are ready to start on the short yellow path on the board. When any player spins and lands on a symbol matching your next space, you can move your Care Bear forward during this last leg.

The spinner also has a -1 space on it. In the first part of the game, this means you must remove one of your markers from the board. In the race part of the game, it means you move backward one space.

A Care Bear whose belly makes up the spinner
“Hi, I’m the spinner! Let’s be friiiieeeeeends!”

The first player to get to the end of their path, wins!

how it went

This game was a lot of spinning, a lot of cursing, a lot of cheering. I think it was a nice touch to make it so that all players benefit when someone lands on a symbol. It helped us stay more even, especially because we all spun the dreaded -1 at least once. Also I guess the game would be endless otherwise.

Care Bear pawns are made of cardboard in a standee
Here’s two of the four pawns

I was generally a bit behind the whole game, but the others were very close near the end. But John’s symbol got spun first, and John won Care Bears: On the Path to Care-a-Lot game!

Overview of board during our play showing all four sides fairly even
Our play. I was Bedtime Bear because Funshine Bear was not an option

This game night I started making notes on post-its to place in the game to help with my reviews, but I didn’t have much to say about Care Bears: On the Path to Care-a-Lot. When I asked the group if anything stuck out to them, Bill replied, “Keri read the instructions. Everything went great.” So we all laughed at that hilarious joke.

play or pass

Pass. You spin. You cheer or go aw shucks. Someone else spins. You cheer or go aw shucks. Repeat about five thousand times.

Here’s to hoping playing this game will put an end to my Care Bear frequency illusion.