SNAP Review – Insert Coin to Play

Back in the day, before everyone had all of their video games on home consoles, you had to go to the arcade to get the best experience. Arcades always had this amazing vibe to them, you were spending money for every play so I feel like you gave a little bit more effort every time, because you really felt like you had something to lose.

You’d walk in to an arcade, see a Space Invaders screen, and do you remember what it was that it said before you put your quarters in?

“Insert Coin to Play.”


Insert Coin to Play is a unique flip and write game by Zemilio and Marco Salogni for 2-8 players, age 8+.

A game of this only takes about 15-20 minutes to play. You can get it in the US from Giga Mech Games.


Like a lot of roll and write (or flip and write) games, there’s really not a ton to the art. What’s there, and this is important, is the fact that the art is easy to understand. The symbols are clear, and there’s a really handy guide for all of the shape powers (we’ll explain those in a minute).

Insert Coin to Play really leans into that 8-bit pixel art, and it just works with the style of the game, especially with the way the player grids work.


Speaking of the grids, let’s talk about mechanics. How do you actually play this game?

At the beginning of the game, each player gets four cards to draft from. Choose one, pass the rest to the left. When you have four cards again, the draft is complete, then you pick three that you want to use for the game.

Then, each player carefully draws the outlines of their three cards in the grids on their player sheet. Each Grid is a “Level” in the game. Make sure to start in a place where you can draw the whole outline including any cutouts inside of them. (That’s the most difficult part!)

Then shuffle all the shape cards back together – including a Game Over card in each half of the deck, and start playing. Each player begins the game with three hearts and three coins.

At the beginning of each turn, flip the top card of the deck over. There are two symbols on the bottom. Each player must fill in one of these two symbols inside one of the shapes they’ve outlined. And of course, you have to stay in the lines!

Insert Coin to Play - player sheet with three outlined levels. Each has a few areas shaded in.

If you can’t or don’t want to use a shape, you lose one life and can fill in a single square in any one of your levels. If you lose all three hearts, you must “insert a coin” (cross it out) to keep playing. Inserting a coin gives you three more lives.

You can work on any of the levels in any order you want, but whenever you complete a level, you get a power, based on this card.

Alien invader: fill any 3 squares. Fill 3 more squares if you have completed the Ultra Robot.
Kabuki Love: Complete a ten point shape with at least 10 filled squares.
White Skull: Your opponents skip next turn.
Demon King: Your opponents lose 1 life.
Ultra Robot: Gain 1 life. Your opponents lose 1 life if you have completed Alien Invader.
Power Cherry: Fill any 3 squares.
Magic Shield: Opponent attacks have no effect on you.
Space Ship: You can use both symbols of the next card.
Jellyfish: On the next card, use the same symbol twice.

Personally, I really like the Power Cherry. This one allows me to fill three squares on any of my shapes, when I complete this level.

But if you want to be a little bit nastier, there’s the White Skull. (Rude!) When you complete this one, all of the other players lose a turn.

And there’s a bunch more! You can find them on the player aid in the box.

Plus, if you haven’t completed a level when the first Game Over card is flipped, you lose a coin. If you haven’t completed two levels when the second Game Over card is flipped, you lose another coin!

The game ends when a player finishes all of their levels; there are no cards left; a player is out of lives and coins; or a player can’t insert a coin when a Game Over card is flipped. Tally your points (and subtract for unfilled squares on all three of your levels) – the player with the most points wins!


[Andrew] I’ve got to be honest, I didn’t know what to expect at all. Little Rocket Games (the original publisher) is not well known in the US, and this was a game I picked up at Essen. It was actually a different game (that you were interested in) that brought me to their booth, but this one had such unique gameplay, it’s the one I came home with.

I didn’t expect super deep gameplay in an 8+, 15-20 minute game, but we dug the art style from this company, so we were willing to give it a shot.

[Anitra] I really liked the art style – look at these cute little guys – and I generally like flip and write games, so I was excited for this one.

All card types from Insert Coin to Play


What surprised you about this game?

I was surprised at how well this pixel art/video game style dovetailed with a shape-filling flip and write game. I feel like I should have seen something like this in a game before but I can’t think of one.

We thought the concepts blended really well together. Characters from video games have powers, and so when you complete a level, you get whatever the power is for that shape!

The beginning of the game is a little clunky, though. It takes time to draw out all of these outlines. But I do like the ability to draft the shapes I want to fill out – I get the chance to choose harder ones or easier ones, depending on my tolerance for risk.

And if you pick harder shapes, you might squeak out enough points to win the game, even if you don’t finish them, which is nice.

Insert Coin to Play is inexpensive at $15, and it makes a great stocking stuffer for a simple gamer in your life who will appreciate these 8-bit callbacks.

It kind of gets me in the mood to play some old Atari games or something. What do you think?

I think we should rate Insert Coin to Play, first.

OK. I think we’ll give it four pixels out of five.

Works for me.a

And that’s Insert Coin to Play, in a SNAP!

Insert Coin to Play - boardgame

Find it on Amazon or buy from Giga Mech Games.

The Family Gamers received a copy of Insert Coin to Play from Little Rocket Games for this review.

This post contains affiliate links, which do not change your price, but help support The Family Gamers.

SNAP review music is Avalanche, provided courtesy of You Bred Raptors?

Insert Coin to Play
  • Pixels


Age Range: 8+
Number of Players: 2-8
Playtime: 15-20 minutes