5 Bizarre Licensed Board Games

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Before video games, board games were the tie-ins of choice for when marketers needed another product to appeal to a successful media property’s fans. While the current board game boom has produced some excellent thematic games like Battlestar Galactica (and infinite versions of classics like Monopoly, Clue, and Yahtzee), it seems like it’s making up for some… unusual licensing picks in the past.

Digging around on the net turns up some strange ones, but we chose these five as a weird board game sampler to whet your appetite.

Pac-Man: The Board Game

The explosion of video games in the 80’s put board game makers into a tizzy. How to replicate the feeling of plugging quarters into a machine at the local arcade or pizza parlor in the comfort of your own home? Quite a few tabletop games based on arcade favorites came out, but Pac-Man: The Board Game stands out because of its 3D nature and components. Namco licensed its popular franchise out to board game giant Milton Bradley to bring the game home with 60 marbles, four Pac-Man shaped chompers and a special board where the marbles sit in specially cut holes. The board game plays like a slow motion game of Hungry Hungry Hippos as the players chomp the marbles and get chased around by ghosts.

image credit Scout’s Honor via Amazon

The Apprentice

Home versions of game shows aren’t anything new, but during the reality series boom of the 2000s, many shows took a chance at somehow recreating the drama on screen with friends and family around the dinner table. This game, featuring the show starring a post-board-game, pre-presidential nominee Donald Trump, mirrors the competition from the show, where teams have to compete against each other to earn money for tasks dictated by Donald Trump. For the board game, there is an electronic device that uses a barcode scanner to read the cards played by each team. The most memorable element of the show was Donald telling an unfortunate contestant “You’re fired!” which the digital version replicates once each players hand gets down to the last few competitors.

image credit via Amazon

The Sting

Not to be confused with the musician, the wrestler, or Frodo’s favorite +1 weapon, this board game is about the Academy Award winning 1973 Paul Newman and Robert Redford film about con men set in the 1920’s. Players move around the board and pick up properties for auction, except they can play Sting cards to take the money without handing over the property. Perhaps, the fact that the artwork that didn’t use Newman and Redford’s likenesses was a foreshadowing of the ill-fated film sequel in 1983 which featured none of the original cast and strange versions of the original characters.

image credit Fun and Folly via Amazon

Full House

Tiger Toys dipped its toe into the board game pool with this adaptation of Full House. It’s a game where you roll dice and drive around town to collect cards of the main cast and then race home. The locations mostly map to ones from the show, like the school and the TV studio. (The health club is perhaps a reference to “Shape Up,” from the fourth season where DJ goes on a crash diet while working out.) Of particular note is the Joey Joke card deck, which is full of awful dad jokes that players had to occasionally draw from and read out loud.

image credit via Amazon

Vanilla Ice Electronic RAP Game

From the mind that brought us Ninja Rap, we have this additional masterpiece released during the height of Vanilla Ice’s popularity.  Players get word cards they have to drop on different areas of the board and as they complete lines, use an electronic beat box to rap those lines out loud to get points. Once the board is full, the points get totaled up and the winner does a solo performance to the entire rhyme everybody just created.

If you are interested in a how to play video, Jimmy Fallon tried it out on a recent episode of The Tonight Show.

What’s the strangest board game you have in your collection? Tell us about it in the comments!

Featured image credit www.pacmanmuseum.org

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