This article came to life based on poll results from my facebook page. Become a fan of my page at http://www.facebook.com/MyRottingBrain1 so you don’t miss the next one. I won’t guarantee that I’ll completely ignore the public opinion. Unless of course you also follow me on twitter @myrottingbrain, or tumblr, http://mikesrottingbrain.tumblr.com/ then I’ll pretty much write whatever you want. Besides, you should be following me on tumblr anyways, I post alot of stuff about the movie Cocktail. Enough shameless pandering….
Alright, time to ostracize part of my audience, I mean besides the part that I just lost after using the word “ostracize.” It’s time to talk about board games, those things kids played before video games, so if you don’t remember a time when Playstation didn’t exist, this article might not be for you. I won’t turn this into some sort of crotchety old man rant, because I like my Xbox more than I like some of my friends, but I will say that I do miss the heyday of board games. Luckily, thanks to YouTube, I can be reminded of all the fun board games used to provide, without being reminded of how much of a pain in the ass they could be to set up, or how easily they could be taken apart, with one rage fueled fling of the board. I didn’t want to play Monopoly Jr. anyways! I don’t even know what the fuck a Loop De Loop is or why it’s comparable to Park Place and the property values of this park are ridiculous, you can buy the whole thing for $48!
Anyways, let’s begin…
Ah yes, Shark Attack, Milton Bradley’s game that teaches you that survival of the fittest really just comes down to being faster than the person behind you. Of course, in board game form that message got a bit muddled. Movement was determined with dice rolls, which gave your fat friend the unfair advantage of moving at the same speed as everyone else, a privilege they won’t enjoy in the real world. I’m pretty sure Shark Attack contributed to childhood obesity, if dice rolls were linked to a player’s weight, chubbo might feel more inclined to get out an exercise so he wouldn’t keep losing.
I give Shark Attack some kudos for hammering home the idea that sharks should be feared. It kept parents from having to sit their kids down for a viewing of Jaws before a trip to the beach. Of course, if the creators wanted to be truly helpful in education kids about the terrors of the deep, they’d re-release the game as “Whale Shark Attack.” It’d be exactly the same concept, except players would be chased by a whale shark. You’d roll your little heart out, but inevitably you’d end up sucked into the void that is it’s never closing mouth, never again to return. Especially if you’re fat.
13 Dead End Drive
For the kid who though Clue sucked because you didn’t get to carry out the murder, it’s 13 Dead End Drive, the murder simulating board game. The setup is that the players are all people attempting to become the sole heir to a large fortune. Milton Bradley decided that the best way to do that would be to have players slowly murder each other via several elaborate traps. It teaches kids the important lesson that there isn’t anything murder won’t help you acquire. This could have been a great opportunity to do some social commentary on the evils greed can drive a person to, but instead they just decided to glorify the whole horrible process. Watch the commercial, look how much fun those puppets are having as they kill each other! Next time I have friends over, someone is definitely getting pushed off a ladder, and then I’m going to attempt to get written into the will of their relatives.
I’d suggest some improvements, but let’s be honest; we’re about five years away from a reality game show that borrows this exact concept.
Speaking of murder simulators, here’s Grape Escape, Parker Brothers’ game where you torture, maim and kill clay creations. Now, the object was to move your little clay grape character out of the jam factory, avoiding all the traps. If you were anything like me, that objective went out the window pretty quickly and you spent your time actively seeking out traps, if not just forgetting about the game aspects of it entirely and simply mutilating your clay creations. You can call me twisted, but I blame Parker Brothers for putting out what is pretty much a Play Doh Torture Chamber.
Grape Escape really doesn’t need any improvements; they just need to repackage it a little. My two favorite ideas? Change the molds from grapes to little children, and you’ve suddenly got yourself a game based on child labor in the Industrial Revolution! Grab the part that rolled under the machine quickly, before you’re crushed to death! Ideally the molds would be made larger and you can escape some pitfalls losing only a limb. Whoever has the most appendages at the end of the day is declared the winner.
Don’t like that idea? Fine, add a puppet on a tricycle and give your grapes backstories that include questionable moral decisions and you’ve got yourself Saw: The Board Game
I like to think of the rock guy in Forbidden Bridge as the asshole cousin of Olmec from Legends of the Hidden Temple. While Olmec encourages kids to find valuable items within his temple, Forbidden Bridge guy gets pissed and shakes the shit out of them. The bad attitude probably stems from Kirk Fogg choosing Olmec over him; those kinds of wounds never truly heal.
I have to rank Forbidden Bridge high on my list of incredibly fucking frustrating games. It took some time to even get up to that bridge, and if you were shook off on your ascent, you had to start over, and you were usually shook off. It only got more frustrating if you actually grabbed a diamond, because if I recall correctly, dropping the diamond made it free for anyone to pick it up, meaning your opponents who just fell off the bridge could easily piss all over your hard work and win the game. This is how friendships are ruined when you’re ten.
As for improvements, I can’t think of any that don’t involve jokes about earthquakes, so I’ll just mention my review of Legends of the Hidden Temple instead: https://myrottingbrain.wordpress.com/2010/11/29/random-review-legends-of-the-hidden-temple/
I want to remind everyone right off the bat that in Guess Who, game cards do not actually talk. I’d like to go back in time and meet the child who assumed they’d be having full blown conversations with the pieces of cardboard included in the game, and laugh at their disappointment. You’re the reason we had to use safety scissors in school. If you were a character in Guess Who, I’d always ask “Are they fucking stupid?” as a way of weeding you out.
Guess Who was a childhood favorite, where you and your opponents drew cards from a cast of characters, then asked each other questions, trying to figure out who the other player was. You’d flip the cards down once you’d rule someone out and through process of elimination, you’d figure out your opponents identity. Fun fact: The “Tom” character looks exactly like my neighbor, who is also named Tom. I’m not sure if Guess Who Tom has never had a job and is supported by his wife like Neighbor Tom, but I wouldn’t be surprised. The rest of the male characters look like serial killers or at the very least, people not to be trusted around children. I should also mention that it was only through childlike ignorance that games in which Anne, the only African American card, lasted longer than one question. When she’s selected, a better name would be “Guess Who We’re Profiling”
Guess Who does not need improvements. Sure, you could add new characters, but the fun in the game boils down to what kind of questions you ask. I’m considering buying it again, just so I can ask questions like “Does your character look like they’d burn down an orphanage if you paid them enough money?” and “If your character got drunk, are they likely to be arrested for indecent exposure?” The fun is limitless, but make sure you don’t forget to ask the most important question of all.