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The Croods: Prehistoric Party - Explorer's Field Guide

9th April 2013; By KnucklesSonic8

With 'Survival of the Funnest' as their manifesto, the Crood family is completely geared up with the right tools to begin their trek, but the same may not necessarily be true in your case. Perhaps you or your child are not used to anything outside of Mario Party and aren't sure what to expect with the game's formula, in which case the unfamiliar flow may draw interest. Or perhaps digital board game experiences have yet to be introduced in your household. Well, for those seeking to get the most out of The Croods: Prehistoric Party, you can rest assured knowing that the mechanics are not at all complicated and can be understood within a few minutes time. But there are some aspects with the design that could confuse, and so this handy guide was prepared, mapping out everything from rule guidelines, board principles and layouts. The only thing missing are some custom House Rules -- those I'll leave up to folks with bigger imagination than my own!

Setup & Rules

At the start, only one board will be accessible, with new boards opening up as you play each of the available ones once. Your initial objective is to get to the finish line before everyone else. This is what the game terms the Trailblazer ruling. Upon clearing a board under this condition, Hunter-Gatherer Mode will become available for the same board, offering a different method of play -- this time aiming to collect the most eggs after a time or turn condition you manually set.

When deciding on a limit, bear in mind that the timers relate to board play and exclude time spent playing mini-games. So think carefully when making a selection -- chances are you'll be at it for five to 30 minutes longer than anticipated.

The Rundown: Spaces

The following is an explanation of every kind of space you'll see across the game's five boards. Remember! If you forget any of these, you can head to the Pause Menu and select the Information tab for direct details on what each do.

Normal Space - One or two Shells are awarded.
Bonus Space (Green Shell) - Three to five Shells are awarded.
Toll Space (Red Shell) - Lose two to five Shells.
Item Space - Gives a random item when landed on.
Intersection Space - A break in the path that offers two options, one being more risky than the other. Players cannot stop here and this doesn't count towards your roll. When a route is temporarily unavailable, the space will simply be represented as a green arrow, forcing you in one direction.
Hazard Space (Red Hand) - Will send you back a few spaces or push you down to a lower level, either because of an unstable platform or encroaching on an animal's territory. The space you are subsequently pushed back to will take effect.

Invention Space
(Yellow Exclamation) - The first to cross this will invent something to reach new heights and distances.
Shortcut Space - An alternative to the above where a shortcut will open only if you have a specific item on you.
Mini-Game Space - Select a mini-game from one of three choices. Shells are doled out according to rank, with four awarded to the first-place player.
Shop Space (Yellow Square) - Enter to make a single purchase from one of three choices, one of which will always be the invention specific to the board you're playing on. The prices don't always remain at set prices (though generally special items only require two Shells) and you don't have to land on the space to be granted permission to enter.

The Rundown: Items

Similar to the above, here's a list of the items present in the game with the effects they have. Note that inventions (i.e., Fire, Mushroom Trampolines, Tree Bridges, Fish Shoes and Clouds) are exclusive to specific boards for use at designated Shortcut Spaces.

High-Roller Die - Sides of the die will be fixed to only have the numbers "4", "5", and "6".
Low-Roller Die - Sides of the die will be fixed to only have the numbers "1", "2", and "3".
Dangerous Die - Force someone to move backwards in the amount specified after the roll.
Macawnivore Mask - When used before rolling, this makes you invulnerable to Hazard Spaces guarded by creatures.
Power Play - Switch places with someone of your choosing.
Thunderstorm - Drain everyone else's Shell supply by five. These are then discarded, not stolen.
Surprise - A player of your choosing will have a random effect applied to them, which can include an item steal.

General Movement Guidelines

Just before reaching an intersection, be sure to count how many spaces you have left to move, as there will be numerical indication of such. Bear in mind also that it is not possible to get an overall view of the map -- only when reaching forks in the road are you able to see the path out in front of you.

With regard to item use, you can't cancel out of a selection, so make sure a particular action is in fact what you desire to perform. Also, items affecting rivals count as a turn, so think wisely about when you use them while playing under the Trailblazer rule. There are ideal times for when to use certain items, and for that, you'll have to conserve them, which is perfectly doable with an inventory that can hold up to three.

Board Strategies: Desert

About 30 spaces in are two back-to-back hazards along a linear stretch. If you want to stand a much better chance of passing this hurdle (and spare yourself some frustration), take the long route at the first Intersection Space, then head south at the next Intersection Space to reach the Shop.

From here, you can either purchase a High Roller Die for use after landing on one of the spaces close to the barren tree, or obtain a Fire item to bypass the unsteady platforms (and many other spaces) altogether when you reach the Shortcut Space. As an alternative to the above: If you get hold of a Power Play item because of luck, save it for when someone successfully makes the crossing.

The second Shortcut Space is to the right of the Intersection Space after the Piranhakeet-assisted jump across the canyon, but failing that, there is another one not far from the drop-off point of the second jump that lets you head back to the path of the first Shop Space.

Board Strategies: Jungle

If upon meeting the first Intersection Square you have three or less moves to make, it's best to avoid the left route with the three unreliable platforms.

Heading right at the second Intersection Square will take you to the higher ledge where you'll find yet another Intersection Square. From here, you have two choices: Head down the lower path where there are only six spaces (two of which are Hazard Spaces), or head up the nine-space path where you can head to the Shop in the process. In Trailblazer Mode, it's best to head down rather than up, and to ensure you don't get knocked for a loop by those two Ramus, use a Macawnivore Mask (if you have one) prior to making the jump or reaching the path split.

The Jungle board also features two places where you can plant a Mushroom Trampoline. The first of these is located just seven spaces after the starting point, so you'll more than likely have to travel around the board once before you can access this Shortcut Space.

The second is four spaces to the left of the second Intersection Space (i.e., the one where you first head up to a higher level). This one is a significant shortcut, as you can avoid an entire leg of climbing and jumping across some segmented platforms situated above-ground. Plus, there are several Bonus Spaces found directly that can give you more Shells to work with when you revisit one the board's two Shop Spaces.

Board Strategies: The Gorges

Much like the Desert board, two Punch Monkeys manage two back-to-back Hazard Spaces found just a few short steps after the start. Save a Power Play item if you get one, as it can help when dice rolls keep turning up small. That's the only provision you have, really, and it's not even a definitive one since it requires landing on an Item Space and then having that particular item awarded to you.

If given a High Roller Die instead, save it for when you reach the first Intersection Space, at which point you should head right, not up. It'll mean skipping the Shop, but it's the shorter route. Don't use it until you've landed on or are one space away from the Mini-Game Square (two spaces before the first Hazard).

The next key Intersection Space comes four spaces after where the Finish Line would be in Trailblazer Mode. Heading up will mean a 10-space trek, while the south route is only four spaces before the paths join once more. Since both feature a Hazard Space, it works out that the only reason why you should head north would be is if you have a Tree Bridge item in your possession.

With the third Intersection Space before the map comes full circle, the paths that follow might appear as though they are arranged in a roundabout fashion, but it's not quite so confusing. Heading left consists of really only a single space on a platform that's ready to collapse, while the other way is a nine-space path where you'll find one last Shop Space with nearby Hazard and Toll Spaces. So if you're at the head of the pack and both are available to you, it should be obvious which path to choose. Even if you see the value in picking up a Tree Bridge at the Shop in this area, you're better off heading to the next one on the other side of the map.

Board Strategies: Coral Fields

The first Intersection Space on this board presents two options: The left path consists of 14 spaces with a Shop in the middle, while the right path has 10 spaces but two unstable platforms, which can be avoided (and the path shortened even further) if you have Fish Shoes. If the former is selected, make sure you don't have two moves left to make, otherwise you'll wind up inside a clam and unable to roll (but can still be affected by items) for one turn.

Shortly after these paths meet is another Intersection Space where heading to the left will mean 11 spaces but with another Shop Space to enter, while the right is a nine-space path where, three spaces after, a Shortcut Space lies adjacent to a Land Whale. So in both these situations, it's really only advisable to head right if you have Fish Shoes on you; otherwise, go for the Shop so you can travel down the more interesting route at the next junction.

Board Strategies: Tomorrow

Don't be too concerned about the earliest Hazard Space. If you succumb to it, the landing spot will actually be an Item Space, so you stand to gain from it.

Ignoring the dried-up crater found a few spaces in, the paths outlined after the first real Intersection Space are this: Selecting left will mean stepping across 13 spaces, but this fork has a Shop Space with a Hazard Space directly after it; or you can head right, where there are less spaces (8) and though there are two Hazard Spaces present, these aren't arranged back-to-back. When playing in Trailblazer Mode, head left and if you realize you'll end up getting sent back, purchase a Dangerous Die or Power Play item to prevent rivals from getting the jump on you. Or, if a Macawnivore Mask is available, buy that so you can fearlessly head down the right path next time.

The two Shortcut Spaces are along the path that comes after the Piranhakeets escort you across the ravine. The first is four spaces after the landing point, while the second is about seven spaces after you first touch the volcano area; making use of either will require that you have the Cloud item on you.

Mini-Game Pointers

Many activities require no further explanation, nor is there much room present for strategy. But here are some exceptions that may give you the leg-up on family and friends.

Cave Painter: Keep an eye out for areas where a player has joined two colour splashes together. If you can aim for the middle of these, you'll quickly bring down their score.

Food Fling: When only one Bear Pear remains, you can launch a projectile even before it turns around so that by the time it does, it'll instantly take a bite out of your snack.

Shell Toss: You don't have to follow the instinct of moving as soon as the game starts. You can actually launch shells right from your default position, and if you quickly fire three in one go, you stand better chances of having at least one land firmly in the center.

Ramu Rampage: Using your shadow as a guide, land from an aerial glide as quickly as possible, then rapidly speed up to close the gap between your opponents and possibly even have the camera lock them out.

Popcorn Punch: The timing window of when to strike will differ depending on the character. Guy does an uppercut motion so he needs to go a tad earlier. If you're Player 1, you can use the corn stalk on the left as a guide, striking just before the popcorn reaches its height.

Banana Brawl: If while running away with a banana, someone starts to get too close, you can toss it an inch or two ahead of you to regain a bit of speed.

Shell Toss: You don't have to follow the instinct of moving as soon as the game starts. You can actually launch shells right from your default position, and if you quickly fire three in one go, you stand better chances of having at least one land firmly in the center.

Party Souvenirs

Don't forget to redeem Prehistoric Points for mini-games, artwork, movie stills and character renderings. If you care more for the concept art, here's a listing of all related entries in the Gallery (numbers applied, reading from left to right):

Page 1 - #1, #3
Page 2 - #2
Page 3 - #1, #4
Page 4 - #3
Page 5 - #2
Page 6 - #1, #4
Page 7 - #3
Page 8 - #3, #4

With an overview like this, you're now well-equipped to set out on your expedition! Feel free to consult this guide as you explore some of the sights the boards hold out. Given how many puns the Croods make in the game, I figure it's fair I close off with one of my own: Let the good times roll.

Feature by KnucklesSonic8