We live in an amazing time. Game companies have published thousands and thousands board games over the years. With so many options available, there’s something for everyone.
But with so many board games on the market, it’s inevitable that some are more successful than others. For every icon like Monopoly, there are a dozen duds like Kreskin’s ESP
Today we’re looking at some board games from decades past that weren’t exactly blockbusters. Some of these games just seem like they’re not much fun to play. Others seem downright nuts.
Note: all research help comes from the good folks over at Board Game Geek.
Lots of games are built on the premise of wish fulfillment. And who wouldn’t want to pretend to be an overworked doctor-in-training where, if you make one mistake, it could lead to disaster for the patient and a lifetime of guilt for you? For a certain type of kid, that might be very fun.
The game is a Monopoly clone about learning how to be a doctor. Instead of using money for currency, the game uses sleep, which is undoubtedly valuable for ER doctors.
2. Let’s Be Safe
This one just screams “fun,” doesn’t it?
Let’s Be Safe is a card matching game where kids draw a card with a potential danger on it, and then have to match it with the best response. Teaching kids to make good decisions is great, but when you’re up the Candylands of the world, you’re fighting an uphill battle.
3. Slime Monster Game
The box pretty much spells out how this one works. But look at those kids’ faces!
Stay away from bath salts, people.
Probably the only way I could enjoy backgammon, TBH.
5. Pinky Lee And The Runaway Frankfurters
Pinky Lee was a 1950’s vaudeville comedian who hosted of a national children’s show, and this board game is a pretty standard cash-in on his fame. Giant talking hot dogs have escaped and it’s your job as Pinky to recapture them. Why hot dogs? How did the hot dogs come to life? Why doesn’t Pinky have proper hot dog containment protocols? I’m probably overthinking it.
6. Big Foot
OK, I’ll be honest, this one looks rad. In “Bigfoot,” each kid plays a gold prospector who ventures to the Yukon and must avoid capture by the Greatest Crytpozoological Beast of All Time, Bigfoot himself. And if Bigfoot catches you, he takes you back to his lair and murders you.
The 1970’s: when children’s entertainment was way more heavy metal.
7. Smokers Wild
Smoking? What a barrel of fun!
The premise of this game is a real mind bender. Kids start by choosing a profession that profits off people’s smoking habits, like a tobacco planter or an undertaker. (And they all have pun-tastic names like “Rex Lungs” and “Doug Graves.”) So already we’re off to a weird start. Then, as they advance around the board, kids must avoid landing on spaces that cause them to get addicted to smoking. You win the game by outliving everyone else.
But who am I to judge, because apparently this game was so successful, it got a sequel…
8. Drinkers Wild
It took me a few tries to understand what “The 100% Proof Spoof For ‘Liver-Rated’ Adults Only” means, which is always good for a tagline.
If you’re like me, and reading that tagline makes you want a drink, luckily there’s this next game…
9. Chug A Lug
If there’s a game that encourages you to drink, there should also be one that encourages you to party. The universe requires balance.
10. Feely Meeley
Feeley Meeley as a game sounds like fun for kids. Everyone puts their hands inside the box and has to identify small plastic toys like dogs and cats. But man, that tagline. “The game that gives you a funny feeling?” That didn’t age well.
11. Groop Loop
If you look at that box and think, “That game looks a lot like Twister,” you would be right! Players tie themselves together with a cord and then complete challenges without falling down.
Which is great, because I know I’ve played Twister and thought, “This is fun but I wish it had bondage undertones.”
Another Twister-inspired game, this time players all tie themselves to a plastic pendulum and throw themselves around the room trying to knock over the other players’ pins.
Which is great, because I know I’ve played Twister and thought, “This is fun but I wish I had more chance of tearing my ACL.”
File this under “needlessly complex.”I can’t make head or tail of this one, so I’m just going to copy and paste the instructions from Board Game Geeks:
“The players have sets of 18 (for the two-player game) clear and smoked plastic of tangram shapes, some of which have a 2 or 3 over a certain square. Starting in the center, the players lay their pieces so as to score, adjacent to an existing piece. A piece normally scores the numbers it covers; if it has a number of its own and that number falls directly over a scoring square, they are multiplied. You can sacrifice a piece by playing it upside down; it scores half (rounding down) and the opponent isn’t allowed to play a piece adjacent to the sacrificed piece on his next turn –this is a neat trick when approaching a high-scoring area. You cannot sacrifice on the first turn. You cannot play outside the arena until you’ve accumulated at least 75 in score.”
Man oh man. That reads like a parody of complicated board games, doesn’t it?
14. The Backbone
Nothing weird about this one!
You would think based on the box that this game is something you play during a break at an orgy. But there’s nothing sexy about it, which makes the packaging even weirder.
In “The Backbone,” players get 10 colored pegs and have to get six of them inside one of the triangles. You do NOT have to play the game on a naked lady’s back, unless you are a rock star or a cartel kingpin.
15. And finally, Spin The Bottle
I went through quite the journey on this one.
My first reaction was, “WTF THERE’S A BOARD GAME WHERE YOU MAKE OUT WITH YOUR OWN FAMILY!” Obviously.
Then, when I looked up how the game works, I was relieved to find out that the game about making your family members complete silly challenges, like “Perform a dramatic reading of the phone book.”
Buuuuuut then I went right back to freaked out because apparently “many of the challenges do involve kissing.”
What’s French for “I wish I were adopted?”