You couldn’t have given KerPlunk a better name than the one it has, could you? What would you go for otherwise? Marble Drop? Too boring. Stick Pulling Game? Dull as ditch water. Nope, KerPlunk suits the game perfectly, as it neatly conveys the idea of marbles dropping and sounds kind of cool to boot.
KerPlunk first appeared in 1967, and is another of those stalwart games which is still around today and will be around for as long as people are willing to play board games. Even when we’re all connected directly via a brain link to some virtual world, we’ll probably still be playing it then, except our virtual avatar will be wearing a sombrero, have green skin and crab claws, which would actually make the game a fair bit harder to play.
If you happen to have never played the game here’s a brief overview. A transparent plastic tube has a number of sticks inserted through little holes in its side, half way down its length. When enough sticks are inserted it forms a sort of floor, onto which a stack of marbles are placed.
Players take it in turns to remove a stick, being careful to not drop too many marbles, as the player with the fewest marbles after all the marbles have dropped is the winner. It’s a bit like a more nail biting, and potentially noisier, version of Jack Straws.
I seem to recall our household inherited a copy of KerPlunk from somewhere rather than being purchased, but it looked identical to the one in the picture above. Apparently the earlier versions were made from purple rather than yellow plastic, but were otherwise identical.
Today’s version has been made a bit prettier, and now sports a spiral slide down the bottom half of the tube which dropped marbles roll around. I’m sure its quite fascinating to watch, but I wonder if this minimises the amount of KerPlunking sound you get from the dropped marbles. Part of the appeal of the original was that the marbles dropped such a distance that they made quite a loud sound on landing at the bottom of the tube.