Somehow every time I am at a house party there always seems to be that moment when someone suggests playing a game. It is at this point there starts the inevitable and tedious search for some kind of prop, usually paper and pencils, killing the mood.
But what if you could just pull out your phone?
This is exactly the service that Heads Up! provides, with a flash card style app that folds in games like "Charades" and "Who Am I" with riotous results.
It’s all in your head
It is a simple concept - hold your device up to your head as it displays words that the audience have to explain or act out for you.
The base game comes with a handful of "decks" (including Movies, Animal, and Accents), but further themed decks can be picked up through in-app purchases. The opening salvo is not a bad offering, but it only took me one round with each of the starter decks before I invested in the Super Hero and Videogame sets – just, once you are in the mood, be careful you don't spend too much.
Perhaps the one feature of the whole game that couldn't be replicated with a pen and paper is Heads Up!'s ability to record the antics of the crowd as they act out their clues (providing you have an inward facing camera). This can lead to some hilarious clips, especially when you’re playing with people who are uncertain of what they are trying to perform... like my mum with the Superstar Deck trying to act out Faith Hill (time ran out before I got past Preying Hump).
Easy for all
The game’s controls are simple. You pick a theme from the available decks, then explain the specific rules on the first card to the assembled audience. After that, just hold the device up to your head with the screen facing the crowd and the one minute timer starts to count down.
Through the audiences actions and descriptions it is then up to the player to guess as many cards as possible in 60 seconds. Words appear on the phone screen one at time, and when you get the answer right (as indicated by the other players) you just tilt the device down and the gyroscope registers it as a correct answer. If you don't know, tilting the device up will pass. At the end of the round you can see your score.
It’s in the cards
Design wise, Heads Up! could be best described as functional. The cards are clearly designed and easy to read from a distance, a fact that is more important than you may think for larger and more inebriated parties. The audio supports this too, with clear sound effects marking the countdown, correct answers, and passes.
Perfect party play
True, all of this could be done with just a pen and paper - but the speed and novelty of having it on a phone or tablet, ready to go, is extremely enticing and convenient. While a number of the core decks are quite North America centric, with the right crowd and questions this is one of the most instantly accessible and fun party games available.