Board game adaptations of popular videogame aren’t exactly uncommon, and with tabletop versions of Plants vs. Zombies and Angry Birds on their way it’s clear the trend isn’t going to stop any time soon. But rather than convert the latest mega-hit for quick cash, we think the (board) game industry should dig a little deeper and transfer some all-time videogame classics to the tabletop format.
Above: However, a popular license doesn’t mean board game success…
But not every classic game will survive the transition. The Civilization board game, as you might expect, was great; the original PC classic plays a lot like a board game already, so that’s an easy fit. Myst, on the other hand, boiled down to a race between two people to see who could put a jigsaw puzzle together faster. It wasn’t exactly The Settlers of Catan, and definitely didn’t capture what we loved about the videogame.
The games we’ve chosen, on the other hand, all contain some aspect that perfectly translates to the board game format. But even then you can’t just slap a logo on the box and be done with it – you gotta make something that distills the videogame experience onto one square-shaped play field and allows for multiple participants. No easy task, but we think we’ve rustled up quite a nice list…
7. Phoenix Wright
Plays like: Clue
Objection! It was Miles Edgeworth in the TV studio with the clock statue!
Ace Attorney’s concept of traveling to new locations, gathering evidence and solving a murder effortlessly translates to the mechanics of Clue. Hell, the series already has a robust list of settings, characters and cases to pull from, so the guts are already taken care of.
What would really set an Ace Attorney Clue game apart, though, would be a system in which lying to opposing players can be beneficial. This could work similar to the card game Cheat (also called Bullshit) in the sense that a player may lie about evidence he does or does not have, but such a move is risky. For instance, if one player is close to solving the case, an opponent could lie and say he doesn’t possess any clues that can be shared. But if another player yells “Objection!” and catches him in that lie, the offending player will be set back in his own investigation.
6. Monkey Island
Plays like: Apples to Apples
The overall game mechanics of the Monkey Island series would be tough to translate to a board game, as most of your turns would involve combining things with other things to make more useful things. However, there is one staple of Guybrush Threepwood’s adventures that begs to be expanded upon: Insult sword fighting.
Apples to Apples is a game in which you try to play the best noun card from your hand in comparison to an adjective card that all players see; the judge then selects the noun card he thinks is the best match. So if, for example, the card in the center is “Unhealthy,” you could play your card that says “Ke$ha” and win the round. Change the adjectives to insults and the nouns to comebacks and you’ve got the more enjoyable half of insult sword fighting.
Strong, tight writing would be required to avoid making this a game of luck – it would be unfair if the “How appropriate, you fight like a cow!” card was able to win every round, for example. But the writers behind the Monkey Island games have proven themselves up to the task, so as long as someone from that team had a hand in creating or approving new insults and comebacks, this could be a hit.