An occasional column in which Lou Harry gets his game on with film-related tabletop titles.
For this installment, I played a batch of titles based on a wide range of movie IP — plus a test-your-film-knowledge party game.
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial: Light Years From Home Game
Thematically sound and more challenging than you might expect, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial: Light Years From Home Game (Funko Games) bypasses the early action in the movie and skips right to the climax.
Here, you and your buddies each control a rider-on-bicycle token carrying the likeness of one of the four cinematic kids. (Don’t worry if you only remember three. You aren’t alone.). The goal: Find the pieces necessary to bid your alien pal’s communication device and deliver them — and E.T. — to the proper locations.
Impeding your progress are an agent honing in on each of you and a trio of police cars closing in on the final destination. Every time you have a close encounter (sorry, wrong movie) with the authorities, E.T.’s heartlight fades. And the more pieces you put together, the more dice you can roll to hasten the arrival of the mothership.
Like I said, thematically very solid. While the agents and cops need to stick to the roads, the bicycling gang can take shortcuts and use ramps. E.T. can either hop a ride in a bike basket or move on his own using candy tokens. There’s palpable tension as the police cruisers and the mothership close in on their mutual destination. And there’s risk to be assessed since carrying E.T. or linking up bicycles both speeds things along and increases your likelihood of being caught.
The game wisely is labeled for the 10+ crowd, but given its cooperative nature and the risk of alpha-gaming (one bossy player dictating actions), it’s best played by nostalgia-minded adults.
Home Alone Game
On the other hand, I wouldn’t recommend Home Alone Game (Big G Creative) to young or old.
Here, you play either as Kevin or the pair of goofball bad guys, with the latter trying to break into the McCallister home and the former trying to keep them out. Each has their own deck. For Kevin, that means traps like bulbs and a paint bucket. He’s also got decoys he can place. He secretly assigns them, along with a monetary card, to each of the house’s entry points. The bandits decide where to try to break in and play cards with symbols that allow entrance. This repeats until either the bad guys score $2,000 or they run out of cards — none of which feels like the movie or provides any fun.
Like the movie’s sequels, this one is best skipped.
The Warriors: Come Out to Play
You might see a pattern here. While other companies can be hit and miss with making their games feel like the movies that inspired them, the design group Prospero Hall, responsible for E.T. and others that regularly show up in this column, consistently nails the theme. And The Warriors: Come Out to Play (Funko Games) is no exception.
If you remember the 1979 flick, you’ll recall that the Warriors are a New York City gang unjustly accused of killing a gang kingpin who was attempting to broker peace. The film covers their efforts to cross town and avoid getting pummeled by a variety of gangs out to get them.
The game works the same way. Two to four players each pick a character, each of whom has a designated weapon and their own deck of cards. While working their way from borough to borough on their way to the final showdown on Coney Island, spaces indicate whether they add action cards to their deck or weapons to their arsenals, increase their personal threat level, or face off in a fight against one of the colorful groups of gangs.
One of the most memorable elements of the movie is the unlikely but memorable personalities of each of the gangs. That’s offered visually here but doesn’t really affect the game play, which is fast and fun. There are decisions to be made at every step, with the rhythm of the game smartly shifting during movement and fighting phases.
My primary complaint, which surprised me in a game based on against-the-odds gang warfare, is that it’s too easy. That’s not just at the introductory level but even when stepping up the challenge as per the instructions. We sailed through multiple times with barely a scratch. Next time, I’ll try it at the highest level and see what happens.
Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window Game
And another from the Prospero Hall folks, this one based on an IP I would never have expected to show up at my friendly local game store.
Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window Game (Funko Games) might be a fully cooperative game. Then again, it might not. That depends on whether one of those people that players spy in the windows across the street has committed a murder.
The only person who has that information is the director, one of the players who sees the randomized characters and characteristics who will populate the grid of four apartments and about which the rest of the players have to make deductions (and sometimes guesses).
If the director sees there is a murderer, the director’s goal is to have the rest of the players figure out the people and their traits in most of the rooms … but not that one. If too few are guessed at all, both sides lose. If, on the other hand, there is not a murderer, the director aims for a shared victory where the rest are able to deduce the occupants of all of the apartments.
Either way, it’s played over four rounds, with the director drawing eight cards and deciding in which windows to put them. Some cards are more straightforward than others (e.g., that guy is clearly a police officer). Others send mixed messages; hmm, could what I’m seeing mean that she’s an artist or an athlete? After guesses are made, the director indicates how many elements have been correctly identified … but not which ones. No other information can be shared besides what’s on the table.
It’s difficult for both sides, and successful game play requires commitment to analysis and a healthy amount of memory — even if the director is trying to help. There’s a fair amount of setup given the number of tokens, but the result is a handsomely original game likely to appeal to patient, observant game players.
Here’s a game that isn’t just about one movie: It’s about 800 movies.
The rules of Movie Mind (Hachette Board Games) here are simple. On a team’s turn, they have 90 seconds to answer five questions pertaining to the mishmash of movie moments and items on one of 80 illustrated oversized cards. The clue giver might say: “A movie starring Jack Nicholson”; while you may know dozens of Jack’s flicks, your team only has one chance to name the one that can be found somewhere on the card. After the five are answered or time is up, a bonus question is open to players on either team. Three rounds of this for each team and the game is over.
The questions demonstrate a fair range of films and, with three sets of questions for each image, you are unlikely to run out of game play any time soon.