How do you sell board games in these modern times? Not the fancy board games that adults like. You know, games like Settlers of Catan and… OK, this is where I out myself as not being super up to date on board games. I am referring to well-worn games such as Monopoly, Clue, and that Home Alone 2: Lost in New York board game I had as a kid.
The key seems to be tie-ins. So many board games have a ton of variations that have some sort of branding tied to a movie franchise or a TV show. There are probably 50 versions of Monopoly at this point. Here are 10 particularly amusing, or particularly odd, board game tie-ins.
Though The Simpsons have lent itself to many a board game, they are not included on this list, because The Simpsons are the best and can do no wrong.
1. Seinfeld – Clue
When I found out about the existence of Seinfeld Clue is when I became preoccupied with branded board games. I am happy to say I am now the owner of Seinfeld Clue.
The premise is that Newman has made a newsletter containing embarrassing stories about the six playable characters, and you have to figure out who took Newman down. It’s got a bunch of fun Seinfeld specifics, such as the “big salad” being a weapon. Also, Jerry’s microphone is a weapon, which is lame.
There are many variations of Clue, including Supernatural and The Big Bang Theory. Additionally, you can find a Seinfeld version of basically every major board game.
2. SpongeBob SquarePants – Operation
Operation is the game where you use tweezers to take things out of a body. Usually, it’s a random dude with a light up nose, because when you hit the sides of the cavities things buzz and you lose or whatever.
And what child doesn’t want to perform surgery on their beloved SpongeBob SquarePants?
The idea of removing ailments from a cartoon character people like feels so strange. It also feels weird to be performing surgery on a sponge, even a talking one. There’s also a Spider-Man Operation, which is equally strange.
3. Rick & Morty – Monopoly
Monopoly is the king of branded versions. There are maybe over 100 variations on Monopoly now, yet the game doesn’t get any more tedious. Some branded versions make sense, such as the Game of Thrones version.
The idea of Rick & Morty, a cultish stoner comedy on Adult Swim, getting its own Monopoly feels crazy, though. That’s not to say it isn’t cool. It’s just unexpected. By the way, the manufacturer’s recommended age on this game is 17 and up.
4. Angry Birds – Chutes & Ladders
The time of Angry Birds seems to have passed. It was a popular game on…phones? I never played Angry Birds so I don’t know. I do know that they had a movie that maybe made some money, but it’s no longer in the zeitgeist.
However, during its time in the Sun, it got its own version of Chutes & Ladders. The idea of a branded version of Chutes & Ladders feels particularly strange. The fact it’s Angry Birds just makes it odder.
5. Disney Princesses – Candy Land
Candy Land is a game for little kids. It’s super basic and bright and colorful. I mean, it takes place in a land of candy. That also makes it a strange choice for a tie-in, unless it was with a candy company.
The Disney princesses have nothing to do with candy. Why is Ariel in a land of Candy? There is no good answer for that, other than little girls love Disney princesses, traditionally.
Every version of Candy Land seems to be geared toward courting the girl demographic. All I know is that as a small child my brother loved nobody more than the Candy Land character of Plumpy, so don’t let this gendering hold you back.
6. Jaws – Yahtzee
I thought I’d be doing South Park Yahtzee. I saw that, and I was like, “Yes, definitely.” Then, I saw there were more branded versions of Yahtzee, including a Jaws one.
The cup is a great white shark! That’s about the only difference between regular Yahtzee and this. Still, playing Yahtzee with a great white shark head as a cup sounds pretty cool, all things considered. Does the package feature the naked woman from the poster? You bet!
7. Star Wars – Battleship
OK, in truth, Star Wars Battleship kind of makes sense. Star Wars is super popular, and there are military battles in the movies. The Jedi versus the Empire. It all works logically.
However, there aren’t really any other tie-in versions of Battleship, which makes it stand out. Star Wars probably has the title for most board game tie-ins. If only there was a Simpsons Battleship.
8. Despicable Me – Trouble
Now, when they say Despicable Me Trouble, they really mean Minions Trouble. The Minions so saturated our culture they even ended up with their own version of Trouble.
Basically, instead of indistinct pegs, you have Minions. They aren’t all yellow though, because that would be confusing.
9. Disney Haunted Mansion – The Game Of Life
A Disney-fied version of The Game of Life, aka Life, makes some sense. I mean, it’s a game where you are a non-descript peg, but maybe they could have gotten Mickey and Goofy involved somehow.
On the other hand, having a Haunted Mansion version of Life feels bizarre. How do you work the Haunted Mansion, a spooky, ghost-laden ride, into the Game of Life?
Other than making a bunch of jokes like the one on the box: “Welcome to the After-LIFE.” There’s also a Pirates of the Caribbean version.
10. Disney – Sorry
OK, so there are three different flavors of Disney on this list, but Disney is massive, and these are games largely played by families. Also, all three of these games are distinct Disney tie-ins.
This one is more generalized. The box has pictures of Buzz Lightyear, Peter Pan, Cinderella, Simba, and more. Otherwise, it seems to just be Sorry, which isn’t a particularly good game.
It’s not the most exciting choice to end this list with. What can I say, everyone loves Disney.