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Bank Attack

This looks like a children's toy but it's actually a co-operative bank heist game where players are all part of a gang following the instructions given to them by their boss, who is ensconced at another location. If you've watched the Spanish TV series La Casa de Papel (on Netflix, mistranslated as Money Heist), you'll have the general idea of the set up.

Players (2–4) each have a designated role (Lookout, Hacker, Explosives Expert, Money Man). The bank vault, which is the main component in the game, is a battery powered electronic device. Players will also have a central pool of plastic tools, and of course there's cash and gold - the prize players are collectively seeking to make off with. It is the electronic device that transmits the boss' instructions, and these need to be followed to the letter, and quickly! He'll tell the Hacker, for example, to Get the goggles (which could be from the centre of the table or from another player if they've already been claimed); an instruction to Pass a tool, for example to the Explosive Expert, requires the player who has that tool to give it to the player with the Explosive Expert role. A Trade command will require players to swap specified tools, but the boss doesn't say who has what tool. When the boss instructs the gang to Use a specified tool then the player with that tool has to press their button on the electronic bank vault device. Follow all the instructions correctly and the Money Man will be instructed to take a specified amount of cash. If you make too many slip ups, you'll trigger the bank's alarm and corresponding police sirens.

Bank Attack follows in the tradition of the early electronic game Simon (Hasbro) - now more than 40 years old! - where players had to press coloured buttons matching a sequence of coloured lights. Bank Attack feels fresh because the theme and the pressure of time, with the bank vault timer ticking away loudly, inject a rush of adrenaline. The instructions may all each sound simple but because everything is in real time, the slightest hesitation or fumble can create a cascade of errors. And the gang can only get away with three errors at the easiest level (only two on the higher levels). The time players have to respond is reduced with each level; to the extent that Level 5 (2 seconds per instruction) is almost impossibly difficult. There's a 'hidden' Level 6 that only unlocks if you ever manage to complete Level 5 without any mistakes. And that doesn't just further ramp up the speed, it also introduces a new Change Roles instruction just to add to the mayhem! A challenging but more manageable variant is to opt to take on more than one role when playing with fewer than four players.

It's a nice added touch that the boss' voice sounds passably like George Clooney in Oceans 11. It all adds to the atmospherics of a game that adults and children alike will enjoy trying to beat. And if you're buying it as a present for Christmas Day, don't forget batteries aren't included (you'll need three AA batteries).

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