It’s a very simple push-your-luck game, drawing chips out of a bag and busting if you draw a matching chips. There’s a mechanic for stealing other people’s chips and bonus points for getting the most of the different types of chips. The most interesting touch is that each type of chip comes in different amounts, making the decision to keep pulling a little more learned.
Honestly, Cheeky Monkey doesn’t stand out from a mechanical standpoint. I can point to at least a dozen push-your-luck games that are better, including some by Knizia. It’s the theme that makes it memorable in any way. Jungle animal chips and you pull them out of a plush monkey who doubles as the bag.
Seriously, the plush monkey is what everyone remembers.
I’ve actually come very close to purging Cheeky Monkey, even going so far as including it in a lot I took in to get store credit. They didn’t take it, although they were fascinated by the plush monkey.
However, now our son has started asking for it by name. Well, by monkey bag. And while he gets bored playing by the rules, at least he’s interested and knows there are rules. So I’m not getting rid of Cheeky Monkey any time in the near future.