Heads up! Decent party game coming at ya!

“Bigfoot teaching psychology to boars!” “A kitten in a racecar!” “A pony giving a lap dance!” If you’ve ever played Charades or Pictionary, then you’re already familiar with some of the crazy guesses that your friends and family typically belt out when they’re trying to guess the person, place, or thing you’re drawing or acting out. Heads Up!, a party game promoted by talk show host Ellen DeGeneres, works on the same principle of acting like a fool for laughs. It delivers nicely, though some issues keep it from being a top-notch party game.

The rules for Heads Up! are explained by Ellen herself through a handy in-game video. If you follow some kind of religion that forbids listening to talk show hosts for more than ten seconds at a time, however, here’s all you need to know. After selecting a category, one player holds the iOS device to his or her head, screen facing outwards. The other player (or players) give hints as to what the word on the screen says, and the first player needs to make a correct guess. If successful, he or she scores a point and needs to tilt the iOS device forward to bring up a new question. To pass, he or she tilts the device backward to bring up the next question without scoring a point.

Heads Up!

There are several categories to work through, including animals, pop culture stars, blockbuster movies, music, and more. Each game lasts a minute. The players take turns acting out answers and guessing them, and whoever scores the most points wins.

There are some loose rules to follow when acting out an answer. They’re what you’d expect: you can’t use anything that would directly give away the answer, like rhyming an actor’s name with another, or singing lyrics. There are even optional challenges, like imitating people and their accents using gibberish instead of real words.

Other than the phone-on-head hook, Heads Up! plays almost identically to Charades. Thing is, playing Heads Up! is a hoot, at least for a little while. There’s a reason why games like Charades have maintained popularity for so many years, and Heads Up! adds fun elements like video recording (make sure all participants are wearing clothes).

But like a game of Charades, the novelty and amusement dished out by Heads Up! burns out fairly quickly. You can only thump around like an animal for so long before the novelty wears thin. Answers repeat often, too, although you can buy additional answer packs for 99 cents each.

Heads Up!

The game also has limited options (you can’t control the length of a match, for example), and its controls are a little wonky. Sometimes the question doesn’t change when you tilt forward, and skipping over a question doesn’t always bring up a new one automatically. These small problems add up to big losses when you only have a minute to work with.

Overall, Heads Up! won’t carry your party into the wee hours on its own, but it’s a great way to pass a little time while you’re waiting for the brie to hit room temperature.