SNAP Review – Panic Island!

Panic Island box and cards

Oh no! The volcano is about to explode! Don’t panic: get all 16 islanders (cave dwellers, dodo birds, and eggs) off the island in time!

Panic Island! is a speed memory game from Blue Orange Games. We’ll tell you our thoughts on it in just 5 minutes. Listen in, or read on below.

Panic Island! plays in just 2 minutes, and can have anywhere from 1-8 players, ages 8+.

Panic Island setup: a 5x5 grid of cards
Panic Island dodo bird and egg cards
Dodo saves eggs

How to Play

At it’s heart, Panic Island! is a memory game.

Flip over two cards and look for a match. But rather than identical pictures, you’re looking for islanders of the same color in certain combinations. A bird and eggs means the eggs get saved; a cave dweller and a bird means the bird gets saved.

Other Cards

But those aren’t the only cards you might flip over! Action cards make you do something immediately that will slow you down.

For example, the Tornado card means that everyone playing has to stand up, spin around, then sit back down. The Mirage card must be swapped with the other card you flipped over this turn. Other action cards have ongoing effects, like everyone closing an eye until the next match is found.

Mirage card and yellow cave dweller
Swap the Mirage with the other card you flipped

There’s a third kind of card that is necessary to find in order to escape the island. When you find either the Raft or the Paddle, you can remove them immediately. You must find them both in order for the islanders you’ve “rescued” to escape the island when your 2 minutes is up.

Raft card and Paddle card
Raft and Paddle

Gouga Effect

We already mentioned how eggs and birds can be matched with a different kind of islander to “save” them. But how can the people (cave dwellers) escape the island? Only one way – through the “Gouga effect”.

Once in the game, a player may call out “Gouga, Gouga” to temporarily change the way the game is played. Then, on a player’s turn, they announce “Dodo” or “Person” or “Eggs”, predicting what the next card flipped will be. For example, Asher announces “Gouga, Gouga – Person!” and flips over a cave dweller card. Then it’s Anitra’s turn; she says “dodo” and flips over a bird card. The Gouga Effect may continue until a player makes a mistake.

Tornado card

Ending the Game

The game is over when your 2 minute timer runs out – unless you accidentally flip over the volcano card! Then the volcano erupts, the game ends immediately, and no one is saved.

If the volcano did NOT erupt, check that you found the raft and paddle, then tally up your score, according to how many islanders you rescued. A perfect score is 16; we’ve never done that, although Asher has come close when playing solo. Using good memory skills and communication, we can regularly score around 10-12 in our group.


Asher loves Panic Island! – not only because he loves memory games, but also because it’s cooperative. Everyone can use their strengths to work together.

Action cards surrounding volcano card
Action cards

You pick 3 Action types to shuffle in to the cards at the beginning of the game, and the obstacles presented by the Action cards vary a lot. The variety keeps the gameplay interesting, since you can’t use the same strategies every time.

If you’re getting really good at Panic Island! and want even more of a challenge, you can work through a series of suggested scenarios in the rulebook. Accumulate enough points, and “unlock” an extra “Do Not Open” packet, containing another tribe (blue) to replace some of the existing islanders, and more Action cards that are even more difficult.

We’ve really enjoyed Panic Island! It’s very portable, incredibly short, and we recommend it if your family likes either memory games or speed games.

Do Not Open packet and scenarios

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

The Family Gamers received a copy of Panic Island! from Blue Orange Games for this review.

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

Panic Island!
  • Palm Trees


Playtime: 2 minutes

Number of Players: 1-8

Age Range: 8+