Hello again, everybody. As I'm sure most of you have guessed by now, I like to play games. Always have. It doesn't matter if they're electronic, card-based, or physical like hide-and-seek...it's just something I've always enjoyed. Today I want to share a few memories I have of board games of yesteryear. Yes, there were staples like Candy Land, Chutes N' Ladders, Monopoly, and what-have-you. But I try to be unique around here so I wanted to focus on some lesser talked about games. It is worth mentioning before I begin though that my parents still have the majority of board games we played growing up. In fact, they recently sent me the copies of Clue, Life, and Aggravation that we spent so many hours playing together back in the day. The artwork alone was a great rush of nostalgia. Sure, the boxes may be a little scratched and worn now, but that's only because they got handled so much over the years. Those are great memories on their own, but for now, I have other tales to tell. Shall we?
I want to say that my folks just brought this home one day, because I don't remember ever seeing it in a store. Actually, now I that think about it, our copy of Quicksand is the only copy of the game I've ever seen anywhere. Nobody we knew had it, and I've never seen it in any thrift or antique stores either. Not that it matters though. Quicksand was typical "race" game, where players competed to be the first to get back to the explorers's camp on the others side of the jungle. As the name implies, there's copious amounts of Quicksand to prevent you from doing this, along with some hungry crocodiles. The gimmick here is the player pieces. Each of the four explorers had five seperate pieces; the feet, legs, torso, head, and hat.
You rolled one die for movement. The majority of spaces you landed on though said Roll and Sink. When these were landed on, players rolled a green die. This would tell you how many pieces to remove from the bottom of your player so they would appear to sink into the board. There was also a crocodile head on the die that would send you back to the start, or the last checkpoint you passed. Losing all your pieces has the same result. Rare was the game when you made progress without sinking much, so I remember getting used to being just hat most of the time. It's not an amazing game by any means, but I always enjoyed it, and I remember playing it quite a bit. I don't think my parents still have it though. The box was destroyed years ago, so my folks kept the board and put the pieces and dice in a shoebox with other random game pieces. The board is still there, but I'm pretty sure the player pieces have gradually disappeared over time. Shame, I would have liked to hang on to this as I think my daughter would enjoy it.
If you've read my article called "Life At My House," then you know that the Christian video series McGee and Me played a big part in my childhood. Being such a big fan of that series, I got really excited when I found out a board game was being made out of it. My parents had a friend who worked for Focus on the Family at the time, and I'm pretty certain she was the one responsible for getting it into our hands. I don't remember exactly how it showed up, but I played a ton of it once it did. It was another "race" type of game, where the players tried to be the first to reach the top of the board. The board featured lots of art from the various Mcgee animations from the show. There were lots of traps to set you back along with things to shoot you forward. It was kind of like a Christian version of Chutes and Ladders.
The big difference here is the Sticky Situations cards, which are also where the game gets it name. Landing on one of these slimy spaces will cause you to draw a Stick Situations card. They have a scenario on the back of them that imagines the player in some sort of moral dilemma. You then roll the dice to determine the outcome. Some were bad, which would send you back. Some were good, which would send you forward. Some were funny and wouldn't have you do anything. I don't remember any specific scenarios, but I do remember one of the funnier answers being "You hit them with your bible." if you rolled a 5 or something. I didn't figure this out until a long time after we had it, but all the response types were linked to the same numbers. Like 1 and 2 were always the bad choice, 3 and 4 were always the good choice...etc. I played this a lot with my family, and my parents still have it and it's in good condition.
As much as I wish it was, the game was not mine. It belonged to my cousin, Brent. I don't recall how I was first introduced to this, but I'm pretty sure my head exploded when I was. You mean I could get my Mario fix even when Nintendo wasn't available?! It was truly a glorious thing. Once again, it was just another race to the top kind of game, although this time it was guiding Mario through four different "levels" to confront Bowser and save the Princess. The were coin chits to collect, but I don't remember what they were for. There were also cards you could get that had power-ups like fireballs on them which could be used on enemies.
I thought it was neat, but Brent eventually grew tired of it. I think it's a safe bet to say that I probably got on his nerves a little a bit by wanting to play it so much. Sorry, Brent. I don't know if you remember any of this or even if you know this website exists, but if by some chance you're reading this, thanks for the memories. They mean more to me than you know. Anyway, what's even more interesting is that when I was looking pictures for this game, I came across a couple board games Milton Bradley had made based of video games; Sonic the Hedgehog and The Legend of Zelda. I had these idea these existed, heck I didn't even know the Mario game existed before Brent, as I never saw any of them in a store. I don't know how they played, but the boards for those games looked cool. I have no doubt I would have loved them.
I had seen commercials for Dead End Drive and I always thought it looked really fun. One day when my family was out, I saw it Wal-Mart I think, and I asked if we could get it. I guess no one else had seen those commercials because my mom, dad, and sister didn't know what it was. Thankfully after looking at the box, they agreed with me about it looking fun and said we could buy it. Nobody regretted it. Other than how it played, what I remember most about this game was the initial setup. It takes place inside a mansion, which in turn had to be constructed before playing. There was massive wall at the back of the board complete with fireplace, chandelier, and portrait that held cards that had to be put together. I helped my dad do it. There also traps to set up like a falling suit of armor, staircase, and a bookcase with a ladder. When finished playing, things had to be taken down again to fit back into the box. Thankfully, the back wall was designed to fold once it was built. The setup was worth it, as the completed board was beautiful.
The story for the game was as follows; Aunt Agatha has died, and several people shown up to claim her money as an inheritance. They include her butler, maid, stylist, chauffer, suitor, chef...etc. Even her cat is there to get some cash. How do you determine who gets the money? There's a card for each player behind the portrait of Aunt Agatha. Her picture is removed when the game starts and the character shown in the portrait is the receiver. But of course, it's not as simple as that. If that character is one of yours, you have to get that character out of the mansion. The thing is, everyone else is trying to off you.
Every player has an equal portion of the character cards in their hand. These are yours. You are however, allowed to move any character on their board, regardless if their yours or not. What you'd want to do is either get your character out of the mansion when your picture is up, or kill the other players using traps around the mansion. If the character in the portrait is dead, they get removed and the one behind it takes it place. There are also cards that change the picture as well. There's also a detective who makes his way slowly to the house. If he gets there when your picture is up, you win. I can't tell you how much fun I had playing this. The traps were fun to use because they were real objects, not just cards. You could drop a chandelier on somebody, flip them into the fireplace or off the stairs, knock the ladder from the book shelf over or drop a suit of armor on them. All in the name of family fun of course. My parents still have it, but parts of it are broken now so I don't know how playable it is anymore.
I've mentioned before that I have a cousin named Alan who was heavily into RPG's. There was a time when I was spending the night at his house so we could go to Raging Waters the next day. (That's a southern California water park for those who don't know.) His friend Danny was going with us so he was staying over as well. We were thinking of things to do when he pulled this out. I had never seen anything like it before. And I thought it was awesome. Looking back, it was a big eye-opener for me, as it was my first indication that life existed beyond Life, Clue, and Monoploly. (Not that I have anything against them.) Hero Quest was Milton Bradley's attempt to make a Dungeons and Dragons type game. I've never played D & D, but I'm sure this wasn't as complex. It was still insanely cool though. You started by picking one of four heroes.
One player acted as the dungeon master, although he was called something else in this game. This was Alan. He set up the rooms and monsters on a separate sheet of paper, then Danny and I explored the board. Monster, doors, and everything else were added to the board as they were discovered. It was my first foray into dungeon crawling and I loved every minute of it. The game came with a ton on miniatures. There were things like skeletons, goblins, orcs, weapon racks, and a large figurine that was used for all the final boss encounters. The rule book had a bunch of different scenarios so the game was different every time.
We played it for a while. I even tried my hand at creating at the dungeon master role. We even played it again in the middle of the night because none of us could sleep. I thought it was very, very cool, but that weekend was the only time I ever played it. I did some research not too long ago to learn more about it. Turns out there was advanced version of the game released, along with several expansions. I think there is a reprint available as well. I looked up the original on Amazon and used copies are selling for hundreds of dollars. There are plenty dungeon crawling table top games available now, but the only experience with them since that weekend is the story driven Mice and Mystics, which my wife bought for my 31st birthday. I'm a big fan of it, but I won't forget my first exposure to the genre. Thanks, Alan.
I'll end with this one. Growing up, I originally had two monopolies in my house; standard and deluxe edition. The deluxe edition had wooden houses and hotels, gold-colored pieces, a train piece, and wheel to put the property cards in. Then Star Wars monopoly showed up. This particular version of monopoly is very special to me. To some, a themed monopoly might not mean very much. I admit, themed monopolies are so common nowadays that it's almost ridiculous. But back in 1997, this was the very first themed monopoly I ever saw. It may have been the first one made, but I'm not sure. I saw it on the shelf, showed it to my parents, and the said we could get it. Guess what we did that night...
It played the exact same, but the theme was everywhere. It felt like being in the Star Wars universe. There were 8 pewter tokens. Han, Luke, Leia, R2-D2, Vader, Boba Fett, Chewie, and a Stormtrooper. Money was called imperial credits. Houses and hotels differed depending on if you were part of the empire or rebellion. Rebel houses were small x-wing blocks, and hotels were the Millenium Falcon. Imperials had a tie fighter block and a Star Destroyer. There are six gold coins representing 1000 in credits. Trust me folks, this is a great set. The best part? I still have it. My parents gave it to me not long after I got married. Why does it mean so much to me? First of all, it's the quality. Parker Bros made this, not USAOPOLY, and it's obvious everything was a huge labor of love. Secondly, in 1997, the prequels weren't around yet so there's a certain kind purity to it. Thirdly, it's a collectable. Each one had a sticker on the board with a collectors number on it. There's not much I own that's collectible like that so I'm glad I have it.
That's all folks. I played a lot of other board games in my childhood and teenage years, but I wanted to focus specifically on ones that don't get mentioned much for this article. I hope everyone enjoyed it because I sure had fun playing them. Next up is either going to be Lego's or a movie article I've been wanting to write, I haven't decided yet. Until then, stay retro folks. Thanks for reading.