Board/card games made from video games -- cataloguing the unfun spawn of twitch games

Yehuda has compiled an exhaustive "Guide to Board and Card Games Based on Video Games (1971 to 2007)." These are the half-formed bastard stepchildren of video games, generally representing the worst excesses of ill-thought-through licensing greed. As a result, they're a largely unregarded and uncatalogued corner of the gameverse.
The bad news is that many of these games are pretty much now loss leaders to get people to buy into the video game with little originality or creativity. Witness the large number of new and useless CCGs based on recent video games, included in the packaging or given away at conventions.

While video games are challenging to your hand-eye coordination or logic, most board and card game adaptations relied entirely on spinners or dice, making them entirely unchallenging. Some of the designs are cute recreations of their video equivalents, but without the interesting mechanics to back them up.

Link (Thanks, Yehuda!)

(Image from X-Entertainment: Milton Bradley's PAC-MAN Board Game!)


  1. Geez, hate on board games much? What is being left of out the narrative is that for most of the time in the 1970s and 80s, there was no way to play your favorite arcade video game at home, period.

  2. @automatt: Uhh… Atari?

    I had that game! Double my marble collection! Had some pretty wonky white marbles though. They were mostly round. Mostly. Many had some sort of grove in them. That’s what I really remember about the game. That, and inventing my own versions that used more than just white and yellow marbles.

    Also, does the ET boardgame count as a video game knock off? Because it was pretty crappy board game as well. (A three sided die? Oh come on! :) )

  3. The Pac-Man board game is actually really good. There’s no twitching, but you do have to play with logic, and playing with four people is great fun!

    The Frogger one that was out at the same time, though – epic fail.

  4. That Pac-Man game was one of my favourite toys as a kid. The clunking, crunching sound that the plastic Pac-Man made when he ate the marbles was soooo satisfying. And the ghosts were brilliant.

    *runs up to attic to see if it’s still there*

  5. I had that Pac-Man game! It was a lot of fun but took a while to set up with all the marbles. Still, like NAOMI above the best part was was using the plastic Pac-Man to crunch around the board eating dots. (Not with his mouth tho’. . . his underside.)

  6. Ahh, the good Pac-Man board game. That’s the one I wanted. Instead of the other, crappier version. Which is what I got. (FYI: It did not make a satisfying sound of any kind. Sigh.)

  7. The Pac-Man board game was indeed a heck of a lot of fun pretty much because it involved marbles and bizarre plastic Pac-Man figures which chomped when you pressed down on ’em. I don’t remember much else about the game, besides the fact that games with a lot of marbles in them didn’t last very long.

    The board game did get banned for a while in my elementary school (man, indoor recess was the best) because one enterprising third-grader kept singing “Pac-Man’s going to the baaaath-room!” whenever he emptied out the little plastic figure. The song caught on, the teachers got irked, the game got yanked, life went on.

  8. There is one thing worst than board games based on videogames. It’s called ‘Board games based on tv shows’.

    I mean… what’s the thrill in playing ‘Deal or no deal’ at home?

    ‘Now, I’m offering you ZERO dollars for your box. Remember that you may have zero dollars in it, so be careful with your choice…’

  9. My older brother got that game around ’84 or so. Not only were the marbles great to play with, and the sound and feeling of crunching them up fantastic, but for the first time I could play a game WITH my brother. (Rather than just watching him play on our Commodore 64 till he got bored and then finally getting my turn. Not that he didn’t hog board games too… :P )

  10. I have the Pac Man game; it defies the laws of Pac-physics by allowing 4 yellow plastic Pacs to chomp marbles in the maze at once.

    During the great New York blackout of 2003, I took the boardgame to my local bar Enid’s in Brooklyn, and set it up–on the useless sitdown Ms. Pac Man machine.

    Thank you, Milton Bradley.

  11. I had the Ms. Pac Man game as a kid.

    No marbles, just little plastic dots. Ms. P had a spinner built in that determined how many spaces she’d move.

  12. There are many highly-rated board games based on their video brethren:

    – Age of Mythology
    – Railroad Tycoon
    – The Pokemon CCG series
    – Age of Empires III
    – Doom: The Board Game

    and others I can’t think of at the moment.

    Lumping “roll and move” licensing cash ins like the slew that came out for 80s arcade games with the more studied recent fare excludes some excellent games.

  13. Coaxial: “Also, does the ET boardgame count as a video game knock off? Because it was pretty crappy board game as well. (A three sided die? Oh come on! :) )”

    Was this a typo/joke, or did the ET game really come with a 3-sided die? I’m trying to picture it, and unless you cheated by having a skinny, 3-D triangle that couldn’t be rolled on its end, I just can’t imagine.

  14. I loved the Pac-Man game too (the good one with the marbles). We also had the Frogger game, and I remember liking it, but I can’t imagine why I did now. Last we even had the Donkey Kong game, and that one I didn’t care for, but I think it was because my sisters could beat me at it. One thing we didn’t have, mind you, was a decent video game system–we had a Texas Instrument where the best game was Hunt the Wumpus–so these board games were my main experience of Pac-Man, Frogger and Donkey Kong when I was little. *Sigh*

  15. I have this new board game called “Google”! It’s great, you pick a search card and then roll the dice and move forward or backward that number of spaces and read the result. Oh, I forgot to mention that the dice has 2.4 billion sides.

  16. I remember the PAC-MAN game. Every time you moved you’d have to press your Pac-Man down to suck up the marble. It was like Hungry Hungry Hippos, except, y’know, lame.

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