The premise of Ice Cool is that you are penguins running around a penguin school, trying to avoid being caught. As absurd as that is, it kinda fits neatly with the experience of the game.
The game is actually a set of boxes that join together to form the ‘school’. Each player has their own penguin, their own ID card, and a set of fish they hope to collect. In each round, one player is the Catcher and the others are the Runners. The runners’ job is to run around the school until they have caught all their fish (you catch fish by going through doorways). Whenever they catch fish they take a fish card, worth between 1 and 3 points. The catcher’s job is to simply ‘tag’ the runners and confiscate their ID cards.
A round ends when either all fish are caught or all runners are tagged, and the catcher gets a fish card for every ID card they have in their possession. Then it’s the next person’s turn to be the catcher. Play continues until everyone has been the catcher twice, then everyone counts up their fish points to determine the winner.
But what makes Ice Cool worth investigating is how the penguins move: their bottom is spherical, so you can flick them around corners by flicking the side instead of the middle. You can also make them jump by flicking the top of their heads!
I guess it’s possible to put the time in and get very good at controlling the penguins with your flicks. I don’t know if the game really gives enough back to make it worth your while doing that, but for me at least everyone being appallingly bad at flicking is just as much fun.
It's possible that you can take more hits than other players through sheer bad luck or good flicking on the part of the Catcher. But it's almost as likely you'll shoot yourself in the foot.
Almost non-existent. Each turn only takes a few seconds.
It's not a game requiring a lot of cognitive effort.
It really depends on how you feel about the flicking aspect. There's not a lot of variation in play, but for the right time - and the right crowd - this very silly game is very entertaining.