Exploding Kittens’ Happy Salmon remake ditches one of the best things about the brilliant party game
Thick and fin.
Happy Salmon, one of the greatest party games ever made - not just my subjective opinion, cold hard fact - has resurfaced with a new remake from the makers of Exploding Kittens.
The eponymous publisher of Exploding Kittens, Throw Throw Burrito and other party games announced that it had landed Happy Salmon over the summer, acquiring the 2016 title from original publisher North Star Games. As part of the announcement, the studio said it would re-release Happy Salmon “with an Exploding Kittens twist” later this year.
Now, the Kittenised edition of Happy Salmon has come ashore, revealing a game that hews closely to the original in terms of gameplay but overhauls its visuals with the artistic stylings of The Oatmeal cartoonist and Exploding Kittens co-creator Matthew Inman.
Happy Salmon’s gameplay remains as simple as before. Each player begins the game with a deck of 12 cards, divided into four sets of three matching cards: High Five, Fish Bump, Switch It Up and the Happy Salmon itself. The decks are divided by player colour, with different symbols making it colourblind-friendly.
The aim is to match the card at the top of your deck with another player, performing the shown action to discard the card - high-fiving, fist-bumping, swapping places and slapping each other’s forearm like a flapping fish. (Once you know, you know.) The first player to lose all their cards, wins.
The card names are slightly revised from Happy Salmon’s earlier release, with the excellently-titled Fish Bump replacing Pound It! and Switch It Up replacing Switcheroo. The actions remain the same.
The Exploding Kittens version increases the number of cards included to 96, allowing up to eight players over the original game’s maximum of six (it could be combined with other copies for more players). The revised rules also introduce a new three-player mode, with a silent variant included with the North Star edition making a return.
In most ways, Exploding Kittens’ Happy Salmon is the Happy Salmon of old - and no doubt it’s just as fun in motion. One notable change, however, is the loss of the original game’s eye-catching fabric fish-shaped zip bag, in which its laminated water-resistant cards were stored.
The Exploding Kittens edition instead comes in a conventional cardboard box, with no mention of its cards being additionally water-resistant. It’s a somewhat disappointing change, but one that potentially makes sense in the light of efforts to reduce plastic use and boost sustainability across the tabletop industry.
Exploding Kittens’ Happy Salmon can be picked up now for £10/$13.