Usually when I find a game at thrift with mechanical parts, I know I’ll need to clean the battery compartment. Often the fix is to remove battery corrosion, which can inhibit the electrical flow. I’ve lost count of how many games I’ve rescued with a can of Coke and a toothbrush.
This week I came across Instant Replay by Parker Brothers. It, too, has a mechanical component. The main part of the game is a timed, spinning turntable. As it turned out, this one didn’t use batteries at all! It was all spring-loaded. This meant all we needed to do was wind it up, release the lever and watch it go!
The premise behind Instant Replay is part abstract (themeless), part puzzle and part dexterity. You are trying to be the first player to accurately construct a 3-D puzzle exactly how your opponent constructed theirs. So yes, they are going to make it difficult for you!
After setting the turntable in the middle of the play area, choose a start player. Everyone decides together how difficult they want the game to be and takes that number of matching plastic color pieces (three, five or eight). The active player turns the wheel of the turntable clockwise to wind it up and readies the start button.
Without letting other players see, the active player slides together their tiles to create an unusual design or pattern. Tiles can be slid together in any configuration and the weirder, the better. When ready, it is quickly placed onto the turntable. The button is pulled out to allow it to begin rotating.
At the same time, all other players are trying to recreate your puzzle exactly before the table stops spinning. No one may touch or stop the turning table, nor the puzzle. When a player believes they have completed it, it is handed to the active player, who sets it aside in the order it was received. When the turntable stops spinning, or you have designs from all players, the round ends.
Beginning with the one received first, the active player will determine if it matches or not. If it does, that player receives one point and the round ends. Otherwise, the next puzzle in line is checked to see if it matches, and so on. In the case of none of them exactly matching the original design, the active player receives the point! The first player to earn five total points wins Instant Replay!
Don’t let the low ratings on BGG scare you, Instant Replay is more enjoyable and difficult than you would assume. If you come across a complete example for a dollar or two, try it. You can always flip it on eBay where the current lowest price is $15 shipped!
In fact, it turns out we already own this game, having purchased it in 2019!