In the carefree days before the videogames and the Internet, one of the only ways to relive the magic of your favorite movie was through board games. If you are a child of the late ’70s/early ’80s, chances are you remember wasting countless hours parked down in front of your favorite movie tie-in game. Sure, these may have killed the time before V came on, but were they any good? Since the last thing most folks want to do these days is sit around and interact with other people for hours at a time, the movie-based board game is a largely a thing of the past. (With the exception of those bastardized versions of Monopoly). Which games recaptured the magic of their cinematic inspirations, and which ones rightfully made their way to the bargain bins? Let’s take a look.
5) Dawn of the Dead
Giving you the ability to play as a zombie (whereupon your goal is to kill three people) or as a human (in which case you have to secure the mall before it can be overrun by the flesh eaters), this game adaptation of George Romero’s masterpiece proves that you can do so much with just a flimsy play map and 90 minutes to kill. Originally released by small gaming outfit Simulations Publications Incorporated in 1978, this notoriously hard to find release is so difficult to track down than several rip-offs and fan-made recreations have popped up over the years. (The best of which can be found here). Download it and immerse yourself in the brain-munching fun.
4) The Great Muppet Caper
Much like the movie it was based on, this game offered up plenty of spectacle, fantasy and derring do…but man was it a bitch to put together. I have vivid memories of my father preparing to throw this game across the room while trying to assemble the Mallory Gallery. Once the 3-D representations of buildings from the film were finally constructed (meaning that you had to disassemble the damn thing every time you wanted to put it away), the aggravation was quickly forgotten and players got to maneuver Beauregard’s taxi and the Happiness Hotel bus through a replica of a London street with hopes of being the first to get their hands on the fabled Baseball Diamond. It?s bulkiness aside, what made this piece of merchandising magic so special was how it used the game’s oversized board to perfectly recreate the settings and atmosphere of the film itself.
3) The Game of Jaws
Okay, technically this isn’t a board game, but this makes the list for sheer coolness alone. Essentially a variation of Perfection and Operation, this game had players attempting to fish out nautical crap from the Great White’s mouth using a gaff hook before his spring-loaded jaw snaps shut. The only thing that could make this game better would be if players could retrieve Alex Kinter’s torso or Mayor Vaughn’s anchor suit from the fearsome fish’s belly. If you track this one down, be sure to take your turn first, as Jaws’ jaw invariably slams shut as soon as the second player has a go.
2) The Incredible Hulk: Smash
When I was a kid, the only thing I liked about going over my cousin’s house was that he had a Hawaiian Punch board game in which players could smash pineapples made out of modeling clay. I couldn’t tell you what the game was about, I was too focused on obliterating those goddamn pineapples. With the 2008 release of The Incredible Hulk: Smash, a new generation can experience the same visceral thrills that so enraptured me as a kid. Using a mold and Play Doh included in the game, players can make a car or plane and travel around the board, hoping that their friends don?t demolish their vehicle with a big green Hulk fist known as the Smasher. The first person that makes it out of the city without being smashed wins. Simple and easy. Although, kids who get this game are probably just gonna beat the hell out of each other using the Smasher. Womp womp.
As if their 18-inch Alien figure wasn’t nightmare-inducing enough, Kenner unleashed this “exciting new game of elimination and escape” upon kids in 1979. Complete with a mock blood-stained directions sheet, the game had players attempting to reach the Narcissus safely before being ruthlessly slaughtered by an Alien. Whoever completed this task first was the winner. In reality, the player who didn’t piss the bed afterwards was the true victor. This one was geared at players aged 7 and up, because getting mauled by a horrifying outer space monster with acid for blood would have been way too intense for 6-year-olds. Jesus.
Come back next week for a look at the five worst board games ever based on films!