Dance like everyone is watching!
Location: at home
Date Played: September 2022
Team size: 1-4; we recommend 1-2
Duration: about 60-90 minutes
Price: $15.29 + shipping from The Netherlands; also available as a subscription
Wacky Wheels is a company that specializes in in-person events designed to help you become familiar with their particular corner of the world. Their ‘city game’ is based throughout Amsterdam, and their road trip games set you on a three-day road trip through multiple countries. For those of us not in western Europe, we can take home a small piece of local-ish history with their puzzle book The Mysterious Case of Dancing Mania.
Dancing Mania is a short puzzle book that adds a fictional layer to an actual historical incident. The historical incident is one you may have heard about already, an outbreak of sustained spontaneous dancing. But just because the event is real, don’t plan on learning much about it during the game. The game’s attention is spent on the fictional layer, made up of the encoded notes of the experts looking into the cause and solution of the eponymous unstoppable dancing. The puzzles are all drawn from these journal entries.
I enjoyed how Wacky Wheels was able to create a distinction between the five experts’ personalities in the short puzzles presented by each. Many of the pages were presented in a style that we come to expect from a document of this era – illuminated letters and woodcut-style images specifically. And I can’t speak highly enough of the sheer size of the book: printed on A4 paper, it’s the most shareable puzzle book I’ve played.
Who is this for?
- History buffs
- Any experience level
- The physical dimensions of the book make it easy to play with others.
- An online scoreboard lets you compete with other teams for points.
- The chance to gamify history.
A group of 400 people has been frantically dancing for days in a small town in the year 1518. The worried mayor has reached out to you, an “esteemed and wise investigator,” to determine the case of the dancing mania.
The first three pages of this large-format book provided out-of-game setup information and a rundown of the mysteries to solve. The step-by-step guide told us how to access our online scorecard, how to submit answers, and how to view hints. There was also a scoring system in place. The two-page list of questions acted as a checklist to ensure that we knew what we were solving for and how many puzzles there would be to solve. We could then solve the puzzles chapter by chapter, entering our answers into the online scoresheet as we went.
Wacky Wheels’ The Mysterious Case of Dancing Mania was a standard puzzle book with an easy-to-moderate level of difficulty. Puzzling was heavily focused on word puzzles, with some visual puzzles and light codebreaking.
➕ The tech side of this game was simple and worked. Setting up an online scorecard was quick and easy, and we uncovered no technical issues with using the website for hints and answers.
➖ One chapter behaved differently from the others in a somewhat confusing way. It was on theme but worth no points.
➕ The book itself was a positive: the large dimensions made it more shareable than any other puzzle book we’ve played. And it looked good, too: the cover art and texture were satisfying.
❓ There was a heavy reliance on word and letter puzzles. Some of the puzzles could feel a little repetitive, but this could be a good thing for fans of word puzzles.
➕ / ➖ Dancing Mania skewed towards the puzzles being on the easier side. This would be good for newer players, but won’t provide much of a challenge to seasoned solvers.
Tips For Players
- Space Requirements: Table space for the book and note-taking.
- Required Gear: Pencil and note paper, though the game can be played entirely by writing in the book itself.
Buy your copy of Wacky Wheels’ The Mysterious Case of Dancing Mania, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.
Disclosure: Wacky Wheels provided a media copy for review.