If you’re a regular reader of our articles about board games, then you know we play a LOT of them. And almost every time you see us playing it is a game you’ve probably never heard of. That’s the wonderful thing about the state of the board game market – there’s always something new to play! By many estimates, over 5,000 new board games are published each calendar year! Rest assured, we play many, many more games than those we feature on SahmReviews, electing to only tell you about the best.
There are two distinct segments of the board game marketplace – traditional games we find at big box retailers that are either reissues of classic games like Monopoly or Scrabble, or what is referred to as “hobby games” that offer deeper game play but suffer from smaller distribution. The former is a much larger market, targeting the shopping carts of every parent or grandparent looking for an offline solution for the children in their life. The latter is usually meant for young adults (and older ones) who enjoy a brainy challenge and don’t mind sitting at a table for a couple hours trying to squeeze every last point out of their cubes.
But even the most die-hard of game players will usually enjoy something lighter and easier to play to cleanse their palette between their multi-hour gaming sessions. Many choose to play a trick-taking card game like Nevermore, others opt for word games like Codenames. And some, like ourselves, enjoy the nostalgia of the games we grew up with. For years we’ve offered a weekly article highlighting some of these vintage finds in our Thrift Treasure series. We tend to pass on the known titles, instead hunting down obscure games or unique variations of the originals. Operation Aflac was a great example of one we’ll probably never find again.
This past holiday season Hasbro published a series of games meant to appeal to both sides of the market. They took their classic and familiar line of board games and changed up the rules just enough to appeal to those desiring a nostalgia fix, but still looking for something new. The manner in which they presented these changes were a parody of the original games – tongue-in-cheek versions that poked fun at themselves and today’s culture in general! Similar in style to the unofficial Candyland parody, Run for Your Life, Candyman!, these five titles will be familiar to anyone who ever played any type of board game in their youth! Let’s take a look at how Hasbro changed them up.
You already knew that in order to be successful at a game of Operation you need a steady hand. But what happens during surgery if there’s a laughing gas leak? That’s the new premise of Botched Operation!
You’re still racing to beat the clock and extract as many pieces from the patient before the timer expires. You’ll find the familiar pieces to extract – a charlie horse, butterflies in the stomach, etc. Even that dreaded rubber band that we all hated to go after.
So far it sounds like the same game with different artwork. That’s where the laughing gas comes in! Everyone in the operating room gets a little silly and tries to mess with the surgeon. At the beginning of your turn you will draw one of the included Challenge Cards that will make your efforts more difficult.
One forces you to operate while the game board is balanced on the back of another player (or their lap!), another requires you to use your non-dominant hand. There’s even a challenge to receive a shoulder massage from another player while operating!
This Target-exclusive is under $20 and is available now both in-store and online!
Sorry! Not Sorry!
The last time I played Sorry! would have been at least 30 years ago, if not longer. Back then each player had four pawns each. In 2013 that changed to only three pawns per player, presumably to speed up the game a little bit. This new parody version uses the older rules and mashes them up with a game of Have You Ever?. Your goal is still the same – to get three pawns in your own home area. But in Sorry! Not Sorry! they don’t have to be your own pawns!
On your turn you will draw a card from the deck and move one of your pawns the number of spaces depicted. Ten Not Sorry! cards are mixed into the deck, and when you draw one you will ask the question on the card to any other player. Each card gives you the choice of two questions to choose from with a blank space you must fill in with your own subject or verb. Depending on the crowd, these can be tame questions or extremely vulgar. While Sorry! Not Sorry! is advertised as a game for adults, this is a case where the maturity level of the participants will determine the raunchiness!
A couple examples of the questions asked are, “Have you ever licked _____?” and “Have you ever been caught _____?” Depending on the person’s answer to the question, you will both move the number of spaces shown for a “Yes” or “No” response. If they refuse to answer, they lose their next turn!
One other rule change is how you bump other players. In the original game, if you were to land on an opponent’s pawn, you would bump them back to their start space. In Sorry! Not Sorry! you instead steal their pawn and place it in your own home space! This counts as one of the three you need to win so your strategy might be to just run around and capture other pawns! With this new rule, game sessions are much shorter than the classic version.
Also under $20 at Target or Target.com!
The Game of Life: Quarter Life Crisis
My family played The Game of Life a lot when I was young. Having babies, getting an education and earning money were what I was taught a good life should be. We all know that happiness can be found outside of that box and life isn’t as fair as the original game portrayed.
The new The Game of Life: Quarter Life Crisis, is less of a parody and more of an update of the original to be accurate to what we all experience. First, you not only start with NO MONEY, you also have $500,000 in crippling debt to overcome. You still have your car and are given a job and house randomly to start the game (income and rent). That’s it – you’re on your own!
Spin the familiar Life wheel to determine how many spaces you’ll move on your turn. Unlike the original game, there is no end space to achieve. The board is a series of infinite loops which you can travel multiple times or different directions as if they were 2-way roads. You may move over other players, but if you land on the same space as another, your cars crash and you both pay the bank $10,000 (because you have no car insurance)!
Every time you pass or land on a Payday or Rent space, you receive (or pay) your income/rent. Risky Road spaces on the board will award (or take) $100,000 from your savings. Stop spaces are where you’ll get married (or divorced if you already have a spouse), a new job, new house or children. The first time you stop on the Babies Stop sign, you’ll spin the wheel to determine how many kids you’ll be saddled with (and how much baby shower money you’ll get)! Stop on that space again and instead you have to pay $20,000 per offspring for childcare services.
Action Card spots add a little bit of social interaction to the game. If you draw one, a Dare allows you to answer the challenge and pass off whatever bad thing happens to another player. If you don’t take the dare, it will happen to you. One funny example is, “You’re way older than grandpa’s new girlfriend, yet you’re the one at the kids’ table at Thanksgiving.” This will cost you $20,000 (for therapy we assume), unless you “Reveal the most embarrassing thing a family member has ever done to you”. Do this and someone else pays the fee.
The first player to save up $500,000 at the end of their turn wins The Game of Life: Quarter Life Crisis! Also a Target-exclusive, this one will set you back under $20 also!
Clue: What Happened Last Night? Lost in Vegas
If you take a game of Clue and mash it up with the movie The Hangover you’d get this parody version. Clue: What Happened Last Night? Lost in Vegas is no longer about figuring out who committed the murder, it’s about finding your lost friend, Buddy, after a night of drunken partying and before your flight back home departs!
From the three types of cards (locations, actions and characters), one of each is randomly and secretly put into the included hotel key sleeve. This is the person who last saw your friend, where they left him and what they were doing. The rest of the cards are shuffled together and dealt out completely to all players (some players may have more/fewer cards than others). All players begin with their pawn in the hotel lobby and the clock is set to 9am. Everyone has until 4pm to find Buddy (each full round of player turns advances the clock one hour).
On a player’s turn they first roll the dice and move their pawn the exact number of spaces or stay in the same space. If a red magnifying glass is rolled, you draw one mystery card for each one, read it out loud and do what it says. If you reach a location (or are already on one), you can make a “bet” to help you determine what the three missing photos are that will lead you to your friend.
To make a bet you will say something like, “I bet he was with (character name) doing (action) and at (location where you currently are)”. The character you named is also moved to your location and the player to your left checks their cards and reveals one to you if it matches your bet. If not, the next player in clockwise order does the same and so on around the table until one card is revealed to you. Mark that card on your sheet as you now know it isn’t in the hotel key sleeve.
Once you think you know all three cards, you may go “all in” at any time on your turn. You do not have to be in the correct location or roll the dice again, but you only get one shot at a guess. If you are incorrect, you are out of the game. But if you do guess correctly, you win Clue: What Happened Last Night? Lost in Vegas! If the clock reaches 4pm, everyone is out of time and must make their final guess immediately. Any players who correct guess the contents of the sleeve share in the victory!
No surprise, this is also a Target-exclusive game and also is available for under $20!
Mystery Date: Catfished
I have never played the original game of Mystery Date, probably because it was marketed to a female audience. But I have seen the original documentary Catfish and know it spawned a successful TV series afterwards. So I was interested to see how Hasbro mixed these two unique properties into one game.
In Mystery Date: Catfished you are trying to find your (not-so-dreamy) date while avoiding being catfished. The box includes 30 Trait cards and 20 Action cards which are shuffled together and placed in their designated space on the board. Four cards are dealt to each player to begin the game.
All players choose a Profile card as your “Mystery Date” and place it in a standee in front of them. Turns are very simple – you must draw a card and play one from your hand. If you play an action card, read it out loud and follow its instructions. If it is a Trait card, simply lay it face-up in front of you.
Trait cards come in different colors and your goal is to play three matching colors before opening the door for your date. Once you play your third matching Trait card, spin the knob on the door a couple times and open it. This randomly selects one of five cards hidden inside and will reveal a Date card (meaning you won the game) or show that you were Catfished! If the latter, discard all your face-up Trait cards and start all over!
Action cards throw some chaos into the game, allowing you to steal other players’ Trait cards, take cards from their hands or even block an action being performed by another player. Careful timing of these actions are necessary to be the first to go on a successful date!
Also advertised as an adult game, there wasn’t really any mature content at all in the box. We’re assuming because of the references to online dating that Hasbro decided to err on the side of caution. This one also rings up at under $20 at Target and can be enjoyed by the 8+ crowd.
We’re wondering if Hasbro will continue this parody line of games next holiday season. How fun would it be to see Flinch: Psyche!, Hungry Hungry Hippos: Keto Edition or even Mouse Trap: PETA Approved! Keep an eye on Hasbro’s social media timelines (Facebook, Twitter) to find out if they will happen and be sure to check out their huge lineup of “regular” games on their website!
What game would you love to see a parody of?