Cranium - Board Game Box Shot


| Published: 1998
407 6 15

The original award-winning board game! Sketch, sculpt, solve puzzles, act, hum and answer questions Perfect for parties, reunions, after dinner, vacations — anytime! Each game lasts about an hour — hilarity guaranteed Cranium is the outrageous, award-winning board game packed with something-for-everyone fun! Whether you're an aspiring actor, artist, data hound or wordsmith, Cranium gives you a chance to shine.

Cranium brings families and friends together — after dinner, at parties, on rainy afternoons. When you play Cranium, you'll use your brain in ways you never imagined and find yourself doing the unexpected. And the fun doesn't end when the game does — you'll never forget your uncle impersonating Britney Spears, your sister acting out "ants in your pants", your mom spelling "platypus" backwards or your best friend sculpting "platform shoes" out of clay! Cranium helps people find the fun in all things and brings light and laughter to the lives of people who play.

User Reviews (21)

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8 Beta 1.0 Tester
Subscribed to BG News
Advanced Reviewer
38 of 41 gamers found this helpful
“Creative Cat is my man! ”

Cranium is a really fun game in that, as other reviewers have stated, it takes lots of great elements from other sources and bundles them together. It cracks open a minty new cauldron, sprinkles in a little Pictionary, Charades, Trivial Pursuit and Scrabble. Adds a pinch of long road trips humming along to your favorite and not so favorite tunes, swirls it all together and pours it into a soft play-doh-y shell.

For me the real joy of the game is the Creative Cat section, since I like to draw and sculpt, but there’s enough packed into this game for everyone with it’s diverse categories to allow everyone one on every team a chance to shine and have a good time.

I often hear that one of the chief complaints is that no one likes all the categories, because someone isn’t good at sculpting, charading or in most of the games I’ve played… drawing. I personally think this is a positive. It gets people to come out of their comfort zones and be creative in new ways. That’s part of the intent of the game, to exercise your brain and imagination. Also, in the game, you pair off into teams. Just make sure you break up into balanced teams where either of the two players can cover all the categories. Problem solved. :)

Lastly I would have to say that ultimately the game’s highlight is that it lends itself to some very funny and memorable moments with your family and friends with the Creative Cat and Star Performer categories, particularly with the likes of Sensosketch, which makes one player draw the key word or phrase with their eyes closed… hilarity, do your ensueing!

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Gamer - Level 3
Amateur Advisor
24 of 26 gamers found this helpful
“Combines many great games well”

Charades is fun. Pictionary is fun. Trivial Pursuit is fun. Cranium takes all these and more and blends them together into one big game. It’s nice because the variety keeps things fresh. Nobody complains because they “can’t draw” or “are no good at trivia” because they are only tiny pieces of the game. You can still be good at knowing music, acting like famous people, making things with clay, or word games and spelling. There’s something for everybody!

Once you’ve played the game too many times, I’d say 20 or so, the cards will be too repetitive. That’s why they make expansion cards sets!

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30 of 34 gamers found this helpful
“It Combines the Classics”

This game is easy to set up, and doesn’t have a lot of pieces. The only problematic component is the modelling clay, used in some of the creativity challenges: it can dry out if not properly cared for and become useless. So, take good care of it!

Cranium combines a bunch of classic party games and variations thereof. It has trivia elements, puzzle elements and bits of games like ‘Charades’ and ‘Pictionary’.

The trivia element is not too esoteric, nor are the puzzles. There are anagrams, multiple choice questions and spelling-bee challenges. The most entertaining parts of the game are the performance and creativity aspects. One member of a team will variously have to do an impression of a celebrity, hum a melody, draw a picture (sometimes with their eyes closed!), perform charades or model something out of clay to get their teammate to guess the clue on the card.

Some of the clues can be really hard to draw, mime or shape–but the game wouldn’t be fun if it were too easy.

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I Own a Game!
33 of 38 gamers found this helpful
“Great Idea, Decent Execution, Never Perfect.”

Cranium is one of the best game ideas I’ve seen. Take all the popular party games and combine them into a random mishmash of awesome.

However, they stuck with some basics that seem old-fashioned in game design, I think to appeal to mass audiences, with the basic Cranium game. Sure, you can get over it, and with the right crowd it doesn’t matter, but whenever I play the original Cranium, I kinda wish they had a more interesting underlying game mechanic or scoring system, and I kinda wish they picked better games to mish-mash… (But again, with the right group… – which brings me to my third note):

I’ve never played this game with a group of people who all love all the Cranium styles. I have friends who go “Charades? Guh.” because they are quiet, shy people who don’t like to get up and dance around like idiots. I, personally, go “Sculptures? Guh.” because I have no ability to make anything that is even remotely identifiable out of clay. Similarly with the other games. Nobody seems to love them all, so you end up with 50-75% fun and 25-50% annoyance while playing the game, which is sad.

All the Cranium games have similar problems for the “Never Perfect” situation (although I can think of solutions, maybe i should apply for a job there!), but some of the others have a more interesting approach to the game itself, which fits better in my mind to modern gaming. My personal favorite is Hoopla, as it is a cooperative instead of competitive game that still incorporates all the fun party-style games.

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Advanced Reviewer
It's All About Me
I'm a Real Person
I'm Completely Obsessed
32 of 37 gamers found this helpful
“A good standby party game”

Let’s be honest. You and a group of seven other people are hanging out and having a fun party when it starts to reach a lull. You need a game to liven things up. You already played Apples to Apples and you have too many people for Rock Band. What do you do next?

Cranium is a good fourth or fifth choice. It allows people to play charades and act and sing and spell and play with clay. The game itself is ridiculous, like Trivial Pursuit, but it’s completely secondary to the fun of seeing your friends do really stupid things to a time limit.

If you’ve never played this game, I’d say you’re missing out. It’s simple fun for a few hours and it requires very little in the way of skill. In fact, I’d say it’s more fun if you aren’t skilled! It isn’t a regular part of a gaming party for my group, but I’m never sad when it happens to show up.

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42 of 49 gamers found this helpful
“One of my favorite party games ever!”

I know Cranium gets a lot of flack from the elite circles of gaming, but I’ve always had a fun and enjoyable time when playing with a group of willing participants.

The key word there is “willing”, because if anyone in the group is shy or reluctant to join in on the fun, it can drag the game down (as with any party game, I’m sure). My father-in-law, for example, is not artistic and doesn’t keep up on pop culture, so whenever we play Cranium, he sits it out.

The game itself is a wonderful combination of Trivial Pursuit, Pictionary, Charades, and other game types that really add diversity to the playthrough. Some teams tend to focus more on answering trivia, and others like to model the clay or perform in order to move along the track.

Games do tend to run a bit long, and my group generally tends to run out of steam by the end, but the majority of the game is a raucous good time.

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Gamer - Level 3
Professional Grader
19 of 23 gamers found this helpful
“Great fun with an Outgoing group”

Cranium is a game that combinds multiple elements of arts, facts, theatre and literature into a fast paced easy to pick up board game for many, and because of the variety of catagories there will be something for everyone.

Great for the whole Family or large group, young ones are able to play this game in a group of adults because even if they can’t do the trivia questions there is an equal amount of sculpting, drawling, and charades that they can handle in the Creative Cat or Star Performer.

However, if your group is a shy then this isn’t the game for you. It requires making fun of yourself, being loud and fast to yell out answers on time.

I only game this game a four on replay ablity bacuase unless you buy on expantion you will quickly leran the answers to trivia question cards. But there are a good amount of included cards to keep you going for at least 4-5 games.

Fun for all ages
Good Variaty of activities
Super funny
Lots of diffrent activites(something for everyone)

Must have a large group
Must be an outgoing group
Requires a good bit of space
Time consuming

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23 of 30 gamers found this helpful
“An all-in-one game”

This game has been labeled the “Whole Brain” game for a reason. The guys who created it felt there needed to be a game that could appeal to those who wanted to use multiple skills. Unlike some other games that can get to be monotonous, I like this game because you have a variety of things to do. This is a great team game too because you get to utilize different players talents, skills and knowledge. Everyone can contribute something. You get your trivial pursuit, sensosketch, spelling bee, charades and sculpting all in one, along with some other fun activities mixed in there. This has been a favorite for some time and after the amount of times we’ve played it, it’s still fun because of the variety!

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Gamer - Level 3
Rated 25 Games
14 of 27 gamers found this helpful
“It's ok, but my family prefers Dicecapades for a fun mix of game types.”

Cranium got played twice in my house before the clay was lost. We thought about replacing it with the kid’s play dough, but shelved the game because it didn’t hold our interest enough to want to bother again. My wife and daughter both prefer Dicecapades (with the expansion/travel set to double the cards) over Cranium. We just found Dicecapades more consistently fun (and still creative and educational for the younger players).

Possibly it was just that not everything in Cranium was “fun” for us, as I’m not generally a huge fan of games that try to merge too much stuff together. Cranium to me was too much of a mash-up where I felt many tasks were less fun than others. Plus we love dice…lol.

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Gamer - Level 1
6 of 11 gamers found this helpful
“Brings out the performer in you!”

This game is a blast, but unfortunately it is not for all. As such, I don’t get to play as often as I’d like.

This game is a great combination of charades, trivia, pictionary, art class, and super-crazy fun. It’s great for friends or family and can pull the star out of anyone. Usually, once people get over their initial shyness at playing, they have a WONDERFUL time.

The game is best played with a good sized group of people. I wouldn’t want to play the game with less than 6 (3 pairs of people). I have found playing as pairs and not as a team of more than 2 is better and a little less chaotic.

Be careful with the bits and pieces of the game. And make sure the game claydough is kept tightly shut to prevent it drying out.

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Gamer - Level 8
Expert Recruiter
Count / Countess Beta 1.0 Tester
15 of 31 gamers found this helpful
“Consider the Turbo version”

I had crazy fun my first several plays of Cranium. Just silly, over-the-top laughs. It was indeed an excellent party game and icebreaker. The game, though, can get a little dull after a while. Once you realize the time commitment, then things go downhill. I still have fondness for the game, though, but I recommend Cranium Turbo. This speeds things up. If you have the basic game and can’t justify the time, upgrade to Turbo.

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Platinum Supporter
Petroglyph Beta 1.0 Tester
23 of 49 gamers found this helpful
“OK for Awhile”

We played this game for awhile, but it gets old. I think it tries to do too much, and I start to feel like I’m at a business retreat learning team-building skills. It’s not my favorite.

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Count / Countess
Went to Gen Con 2012
I play black
16 of 36 gamers found this helpful
“Great for a mixed group”

Cranium is an excellent choice when your group can’t decide if it wants to play a trivia game, charades or Pictionary. It has a pretty good selection of questions and challenges, which should appeal to each type of player.

The trivia questions vary wildly in difficulty.

Not a great choice for those not familiar with American pop culture.

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My First Wish!
12 of 36 gamers found this helpful
“Too much”

This is definitely not a game for the self conscious. There is a lot of emphasis on public performance… and would keep it on the shelf if there is any shy or introverted gamers in the audience.

Other Games have replaced this one in my party game collection.

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I Got What I Wanted
10 of 30 gamers found this helpful
“The "Next Gen" Party Game”

Cranium back a few years was the first of its kind; a game that was very family oriented and fun to play when the whole family is in town. The variety of games and the usage of props guarantees a lot of laughs and entertainment. The way the game is setup is very similar to all the older games for family fun as you go around the board being asked questions or drawing something or now playing with modeling clay. The game is a great way to spend some quality time with friends and family. Keep playing gamers and try to make the Ship in the Bottle out of clay…geesh.

Bandit Eskimo



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