Video Game-Based Board Games: Using Them Right

With the recent release of Nintendo Monopoly, now seems like the perfect time to roll the dice and to show off some ideas I’ve discovered in regards to using video game board games. Companies like Milton Bradley and Parker Bros. have been producing these spin-offs since the early 80’s, and they’ve made quite novel little gameroom additions, but I’m going to show you some unique and rarely used ways to take these inexpensive products to their fullest.

The first and most straightforward idea, is using the pieces. Oh, these game-based board games come filled with figures and icons of gaming yore such as Donkey Kongs and Zaxxon spacecrafts that can be freely displayed anywhere your gameroom. The best part is that these pieces are crafted not by the video game developers, but by the board game developers themselves. Why is this so great? ‘Cause some of these pieces can be, lets say…damn ugly. Collectors know that game items unfaithful to the original games can make for great conversation pieces, and if you’re looking for said items…these board games are great places to get ’em. That’s not to say that all of them are humiliating, but for the ones that most certainly are – place them on a shelf (preferably together) and let the laughs begin.

The second method comes courtesy of a display I witnessed at the Funspot arcade. Funspot is one of the largest and most daunting arcades in the world, and within one dim and neon-lit room, a lone Pac Man box captured my attention amongst the hundreds of arcade cabinets ready for tokens. The box to the Pac Man board game was mounted on a wall, and used as the centerpiece for a Pac Man memorabilia display. I figured if in this outrageous setting I could be drawn to a piece of cardboad on a wall, than this was a very good idea. The easiest way to do this is to remove the cover of the game box, poke a pair of nails or bulletin board thumbtacks into the wall where you want it, and simply straighten the box cover out on top of them. If you want a more secure placement, you could opt to use velcro attachments or dual-sided sticky tabs, but this would require the bottom of the box as well and would in all probability damage the cardboard if ever removed.

Finally, the more elaborate yet still extremely simple idea: You know how the average gameroom in the average household might have a boring old checkers board or something on permanent set up? Well, the perfect contrast to that for the gamer’s gameroom has got to be one of these video game board games. A simple table set up and a friendly game of Super Mario Bros. could be quite enticing for your unsuspecting guests. Having your board already set means the box being free, so you could hang it on the wall above your table like a marquee to show what’s “Now Playing”. Switching games and boxes would be no more difficult than putting one away and bringing out another. You shouldn’t have to worry about disinterest from your casual gamer guests, either – almost all of these board games are based on the most popular and mainstream of titles – they’ll surely be curious how these classics have been unplugged.

For some quick reviewing, I would most recommend Pac Man, Donkey Kong and Nintendo Monopoly. Pac Man and Donkey Kong both look beautiful when set, their boxes are retro but remain among the best twenty years later, and they are both very faithful to the original ideas of their respective games. Be cautious with your purchases however, especially making sure that all of your pieces are included (that’s 92 marbles for Pac).

Nintendo Monopoly can still be acquired new, so you can be confident in it’s completeness. Although I’ve only played the video game versions of the regular Monopoly, I can say that this version has definitely been streamlined to make it easier for anyone to get into; there’s much less of a learning curve for younger players. The Nintendo-themed pieces are very well sculpted, though they may be a bit small to stand out on a shelf. Also, it is Monopoly, and is printed boldly on the box, so you might not find it the best choice for a wall display. Regardless, it’s overall a great package that is well created, and seems to have been produced in limited quanities so you’d be best advised to buy it now (though I question it’s future rarity).

The cheapest places to look for the older games are definitely flea markets, thrift stores and garage sales, where they can often be had for a dollar or less. They’ve also been known to pop up on sites like Vintage Game Store and Toybox Games, where they are surely more pricey, but often of higher quality.

If your gameroom’s got a little room, these are each great and unique ways to add some personality and fun to your set up, and certainly gain interest from any guests who happen upon your display. I’ve yet to see this anywhere outside of my first sighting at an arcade and my own experimenting, so whoever takes this easily achieved idea into their own gameroom will be among the first in my book… If you’ve got some of your own ideas on these board games, please make sure to post them in the comments section below.

Your move…

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I’ve never seen the Frogger board game before, but that Pac-Man one pops up all the time at boots sales. Maybe I should pick it up one day.

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