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A Dice-Roll Down Memory Lane

So, you’re starting a band. You’ve got three guys with a grade 2 on guitar and a girl with a voice like Bonnie Tyler’s, if she smokes two packets of Pall Mall first. It’s going great, when suddenly – you hit the big time! You’re a global sensation and your faces are being plastered across billboards, lunch boxes, mugs and coasters, key chains and all the tiny plastic figurines you could ever want. But that’s not all. Nestled amongst the sparkly ‘I’m With the Band’ T-shirts and the badges with your names on is a board game. ‘But I don’t play board games,’ you say. ‘Ah,’ says your manager, ‘but your fans do!’ 

Join me for a look at some of pop culture’s board games through the years. There are some you might remember while some are, er – a little more obscure.

1. Saved By The Bell 

So good they did it twice! That’s right – this little gem presumably did so well, they made a follow-up board game called ‘Saved By The Bell: The New Class’. Based on the popular Nickelodeon show that aired in the late 80s/early 90s, it’s a pretty basic ‘roll the dice and go’ formula. You can pick up cards that act as tokens for ‘dates’ with one dimensional and faceless characters like ‘The Jock’ and ‘The Artistic Guy’. There’s even a chance to use the ‘Go Anywhere’ spinner that allows you to move your piece anywhere on the board. If I had to pick a point where the game developers just gave up, I know where I’d put my money. 

2. *NSYNC Backstage Pass

This little beauty dates back to 14 years ago, before the world opened their eyes to the true horror of boy bands and Justin Timberlake opened his eyes to a world without curly hair. Simpler times, perhaps, but we (and Justin) are all the better for it. The game itself tests your fan knowledge on each band member and comes with lots of bits and pieces, like a backstage pass and several secret passwords for you to use against the security guards. Once you’ve collected every *NSYNC member, it’s time to haul them up on stage and enjoy the show. 

3. Space Jam: Michael Jordan’s Cosmic Court

I suppose it was totally obvious that one of the best films of all time would end up churning out a board game, although that could be the bias talking. As a 90s kid and Looney Tunes-lover, there’s nothing I’d want more of a Sunday afternoon than to play as Michael Jordan and try and throw a tiny basketball into a tiny hoop to score points. Heaven.

4. The ALF Game

ALF is before my time, so I can’t say I’m an expert on it (him?). However, let the record show that I am terrified of whatever *it* is. The brown fluff, the sweeping quiff, the ‘Dad’ shirt… This will haunt my nightmares forever. The game follows the players (the ALFs) in their quest to eat Mrs. Ochmonek’s cat. Was this stuff normal in the 1980s? What was normal was for lots of popular, catchphrase-spewing characters to feature in their own board games – see the ‘Mr. T Game’ and ‘Do The Urkel!’ Both boards are clad in typically garish ‘eighties colours’. It’s like, so vintage, yah.

5. Vanilla Ice Electronic Rap Game

In the 1990s when rap was at an all-time high, the worst rapper on the scene saw an opportunity to make money. Say hello to Vanilla Ice’s ‘Electronic Rap Game’, where the aim was to show off those mad lyricz, yo. In truth the game sounds like a lot of fun, but putting Vanilla Ice on a game about the skills of rapping is like putting Jeremy Paxman on a guide of how to look cool in Ugg boots for men. Answer: you don’t. 

So there we have it! Five ‘once-popular-now-forgotten’ board games from pop culture. There are more, of course, but they are treasures best kept for another day, another blog post. Were you the proud owner of any of these board games? Post your comment below! Unless it was ALF.

I don’t want to talk about ALF.
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