Because you can’t have light without dark, joy without pain, peanut butter without chocolate, etc., I now present this follow-up to last week’s The Five Greatest Board Games Based on Films article that focuses on the worst tie-ins ever to hit family game night.
5) Left Behind: The Movie: The Game
More like left behind on the toy shelves, amirite folks? Hello? Is this thing on?
4) E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial
Much ado has been made over the fact that the Atari E.T. game was such a disaster that thousands of unsold copies of it wound up in a New Mexico landfill. (See the documentary Atari: Game Over for example). Well folks, Parker Brothers’ board game based on Steven Spielberg’s heartwarming family favorite wasn’t much better. In this affront to plastic and cardboard, you had to move an annoyingly cute E.T. avatar around the board, assembling pieces of the communicator so that he can phone home and have his spaceship rescue him. Whatever. The problem was that gameplay took FOREVER and was about as much fun as doing word problems while at the dentist. The kids in the above commercial love it. I hope their lives turned out miserable.
3) Robocop VCR Game
Robocop is easily mankind?s greatest achievement. To paraphrase Jack Black’s Evil Dead 2 speech in High Fidelity, it’s a brilliant film, so funny and violent. To this day, I can’t see Ronny Cox in anything without declaring “I had to kill Bob Morton because he made a mistake, and now it’s time to erase that mistake.” My point is, the film is Bert to my Ernie. This game however, not so much. You have to remember that in the late 1980s, VCR games were all the rage. Well, they tried to be anyway. The problem is that by incorporating board game play with a VCR component, everything took three times as long as it should. You had to cue the tape up, you had to drudge around the board waiting to actually watch a heavily edited scene from the film. It was about as thrilling as watching Robocop 3, or god help you, the TV series with the giggle-inducing villain named Pudface. I played this once in middle school and my friend’s VCR ate the tape. Fitting, I felt.
Although it’s a huge turd, this game from Dungeons & Dragons creators TSR is one of my prized possessions. You see, I’m totally convinced that I pulled a Dreamscape and willed it into existence. During one of my recurring dreams in which I was in a long-gone toy store picking up action figures on clearance, I saw an Escape from New York board game by the cash register and promptly snatched it up. After I woke up the next morning and realized how utterly pathetic even my subconscious life was, I headed out to one of the vintage toy stores I frequented and lo and behold, there it was! After getting it home, it quickly became apparent that at no point in the game was I going to get to encounter The Duke or that chick from the Chock Full O’Nuts. No, instead I got to meander around the board in search of missing documents and a president whose appearance on the box cover looks more like famed suicidal politician Budd Dwyer than Donald Pleasence. My dreams always betray me.
Remember in that episode of Freaks and Geeks when Mr Weir was trying to get Sam and Lindsay to play that stock market game The Pit and they just didn’t give a shit? Same deal here. This is something that you?d have to play over at your grandmom’s house, and not the cookie-baking, surprise Star Wars-figure-giving one either. I?m talking the bullshit granny whose home is populated by Emmett Kelly clown statues and the smell of dead dreams. Kids aged 10 and up don’t want to play games based on Newman and Redford films. They want to smash clay pineapples and eat brains. It’s that simple really.