Review: “Read My [Lips]” Kid!
Publisher: Pressman
Year: 1991
Players: 3 to 6
Tagline: Hey, it’s the wild game of unspoken words!

Six children on the cover smiling or making faces

how we met

Reader, you know how sophisticated my gaming tastes are. I did not buy this game. This is another that Bill picked up unsupervised for $1. We played one night as a group of three while we waited for John and our fifth player to join us for game night.

how it plays

In “Read My [Lips]” Kid! players are mouthing phrases silently while other players try to guess what they are saying. Players roll the die and move around the board to determine which category the word or phrase they are mouthing is from. Pawns can move in any direction but may not change direction in a single turn.

The categories of the game are:

  • Green: Person
  • Pink: Place
  • Blue: TV Show/Movie
  • Yellow: Thing
  • Purple: Music
  • Orange: Saying

The player mouthing the word is not allowed to make any sounds or use hand signals. They also have a time limit determined by the sand timer included in the game.

An overview of the board with neon lips on each space
Yes, lips are prevalent inside the box

If a player successfully guesses a mouthed phrase, both the player mouthing the phrase and the guesser get credit.

The ultimate goal of the game is to successfully check off two phrases from each category. The scoresheet is just a set of two lips under each category that are marked off as progress is made. Pretty simple.

Example words like jellyfish, Bruce Willis, Saxophone, Darn it!, Jingle Bells
Here is a sampling of the words and phrases you will be mouthing

If you already have both of your points from a given category you can still guess in order to block another player from getting points. You just don’t get anything other than the satisfaction of a good block.

The first player to have all of their scoresheet lips marked off wins “Read My [Lips]” Kid!

how it went

It’s not often that I find something I am pretty good at, and I was pretty good at “Read My [Lips]” Kid! As I mentioned earlier, we played while waiting for a couple of our party to join us for a longer game. We were also eating pizza, which is not ideal for a lip reading game.

But this game was silly fun and we giggled endlessly.

One of the things that is really interesting about playing dozens and dozens of vintage games that are often simple is how they present you with this huge diversity of challenges. I would have never explored any natural talent I had related to lip-reading except that here we are playing a game where that is how I can win.

We are a competitive group, but we are not sore losers. I don’t think I could parade this mix of games in front of a group that truly cared about winning. But the opposite is also true: we are committed to winning. We are earnestly trying to win each of these games. We very, very rarely say, “This is dumb, I am not trying anymore.” And when we have done that you have heard about it. And we basically all have to agree before the towel is thrown.

So I guess I am saying a simple game like “Read My [Lips]” Kid! makes me appreciate my game group anew. Because it’s a short, silly game that tests an unrecognized, natural skill that we would never otherwise explore. And in a fun goofy way that causes us to laugh and giggle.

All of this being said, this game is a roll and move at the end of the day. You can move whatever direction you want, but near the end of play you all only need one or two categories. You almost always end up with a roll of shitty choices where your entire move is determined ideally by what you need, and if not by avoiding what your terrible friends need, and at worst by just moving to either of two spots where no one scores anything. Like many roll and moves, this can go on for far too long.

Lip pawns on the board
A shot of our play. You’d think the lips might stand up but they don’t, they just lay there

It’s very possible to break the game near end of play too. If I only needed an Orange category, landed there on my turn and did the best phrase mouthing of my life – but my fellow players chose not to participate? Or worse, to pretend not to get it? Well then we are all stuck. We didn’t do this, but it’s worth noting as a very real potential issue in gameplay. It might be a good option to each track your own score with your own sheet to hide what you need. Maybe you can bluff your way to victory.

Our scoresheet shows that we were all a single point away from winning in different categories. None of us remember winning, and I don’t remember whether anyone did win. I’m pretty sure what happened is our friends joined us and we moved onto another game that demanded more attention and heavier setup.

Our scoresheet and the pawns
Sometimes my game group call me Jan because I find it strangely annoying. I think it’s their accents.

play or pass

Pass, but only for the common roll and move reasons. The end of the game can carry on far too long, which ensures everyone catches up and only a terrible roll by another player or a shared goal can ensure victory. We giggled and enjoyed this game. I am not sure we would play more than once or twice, but it was an interesting exercise in lip-reading. And one that I may never have encountered in any other way. So it’s kind of what I look for in a vintage game experience.