Fruit Passion: Work Your Melon
Do tropical fruit and memory games make
a tasty mix?
What does tropical fruit have to do with memory? I don’t know, but it makes for an unusual theme for a memory game!
Fruit Passion is a simple but challenging memory game designed by Péter Szöllősi, published in the United States by Eagle-Gryphon Games. Up to four players can participate and stress their brains, but it can also be played solo.
How to Play
Your goal in Fruit Passion is to create sets of brightly-colored tropical fruit. You want to collect a full sequence for each fruit, but you don’t have to do it in order.
On your turn, draw a card from the deck or the discard pile. Then choose whether to play it to your column with matching fruit, or put discard it.
That’s it! Keep drawing and playing fruit into columns until the deck is exhausted, then count up points.
But I haven’t explained why this is a challenging memory game yet.
First, each card you play in a fruit must cover the value of the one below. You can see how many cards you have, but not what numbers they are. And no peeking to check!
Secondly, if you duplicate a number anywhere in the stack, you’ll get zero points for that fruit.
So, you want to accumulate the numbers 1-5 in as many fruits as you can, but without duplicating, and without aids to memory. Are you up to the challenge?
Besides a heavy reliance on memory, the other oddity in Fruit Passion is the scoring. All the fruits score in sequenced sets, starting from the number one and counting up. At the end of the game, re-arrange your cards to see what you have.
The five “common” fruits score a single point if your sequence stops at one, three points for 1-2, five points for 1-2-3, and so on. If you have all five cards, the sequence is worth 11 points. If you’re missing the “1” card, or if you duplicate a card, that fruit will earn you zero points.
Pomegranates score just like common fruits, but a complete sequence of five cards is worth 22 points.
Passion fruit cards go up to seven and are worth double the value of the common fruits, even if you only have a short sequence. But if you duplicate a number in passion fruit, you’ll lose points.
The last thing to check is the “hybrid” fruits. These work like a separate suit, but are spread out among the five common fruits. Each one is marked with white on a colored background, so they’re easy to spot. A “hybrid” sequence is worth far more than common fruits; but you can only score your “hybrid” numbers if they are already part of a valid sequence in their color. (ie. if you have 1-3-4 in fig: you’ll only score one for fig, and the hybrid three won’t score for your hybrid set).
Can you master your memory and express your Fruit Passion?
By the way, there’s also a solo mode. Draw simultaneously from two decks. You must discard at least one of the two cards each turn. With additional information to keep track of, how will you do?
Fruit Passion will test your memory to its limits. Most adults can reliably keep 5-9 items in their short term memory. Fruit Passion offers seven suits, and you’ll probably need to remember more than one detail for each kind!
The colorful illustrations can act as a bit of a memory aid – none of the fruits look like any others. They’re also labeled in small text with the fruit type – handy if you aren’t familiar with all seven fruits in the game (fig and passionfruit were not familiar to me).
My favorite thing about this game is how simple it is. The setup is minimal – just shuffle and go (remove some cards to play with 1-2 players). The gameplay itself couldn’t be more simple: draw, then play or discard. There’s no hand management, not even any reading required! All you need is the numbers 1-7.
But for all its simplicity, Fruit Passion is not an easy game. You’ll work hard to remember what you already placed in each column in front of you, and debate whether to play a card you’re unsure about. I often racked my brain, trying to remember if I already had a number, trying to decide if it was worth the risk to play it anyway.
And that’s the minor downside to this game. Playing needs a lot of concentration! I played a few times with a mom friend as our kids ran around. When the kids all played outside, we could really enjoy the game and score well. But once the kids came in, it was non-stop distractions. Who can concentrate in an environment like that?
In fact, our group often stops talking completely while playing Fruit Passion. Maybe we’re getting old, but intense focus is needed to score well.
That doesn’t mean Fruit Passion isn’t fun, but it’s not a great game to pull out as an icebreaker or a mealtime game. Save it as a short but serious filler when you can have 15 minutes uninterrupted to play; or get cutthroat and build distractions into the game. Scores will be lower, but the challenge will be completely different. Just make sure everyone agrees first! Nobody likes a rotten fruit in the bunch.
Order it directly from Eagle-Gryphon Games or ask for it at your friendly local game store.
The Family Gamers received a copy of Fruit Passion from Eagle-Gryphon Games for this review.
Age Range: 7+
Number of Players: 1-4
Playtime: 25 minutes (or less)