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Plays like: Arkham Horror
An ensemble cast of characters try not to lose their sanity while solving dark mysteries in a tale heavily inspired by the works of H.P. Lovecraft. This accurately describes both the Arkham Horror board game and Eternal Darkness for GameCube.
Arkham Horror puts each player in the role of an investigator, each with unique backstory, items and adjustable stats. Players work together, moving around the board to gather clues and close gates to other dimensions, with the ultimate goal of weakening the Ancient One so it can be defeated. While battling monsters, players might lose some of their sanity points; compare that to Eternal Darkness’ “Sanity Meter,” which would trigger intense in-game hallucinations when depleted. Replace generic investigators with members and allies of the Roivas family, and the Ancient One with any or all of the The Ancients, and you’ve got a solid foundation for a themed board game.
Those sanity effects were the highlight of the game, and so retaining them in a board game version would be paramount. Recreating some of the more memorable freak outs (like pretending to mute the TV or crashing your GameCube) would be difficult, but the basic framework for great weird-out moments is there. Furthermore, expansion sets could cover the different time periods that the videogame’s plot delves into.
No, it’s not as good as a proper sequel to Eternal Darkness, but at least it would be something, right?
Plays like: Agricola
In a medium filled with lasers, superheroes and fire-breathing dragons, it’s crazy to think that games about farming amass such large audiences. But FarmVille has enslaved much of the human race, and beloved German board game Agricola is a hit with both players and critics, so there must be something to the theme.
Agricola is a turn-based game for one-to-five players that’s all about building a successful farm, and there’s a lot of strategy involved in how you improve your lot in life. At the start of the game, you only get two actions per turn – one each for the man and woman of the farm. These actions include the likes of gathering building materials, expanding your house, plowing the fields, etc. A variety of cards help change the game by providing different occupations as well as “minor improvements,” such as an axe or a chicken coop. Your success hinges on properly managing what you do and when you do it.
Harvest Moon boasts many similar attributes, such as starting with a barebones farm that needs to be expanded, as well as the need to improve your house before you can have children. There’s also the emphasis on choosing how you’re going to spend the precious daylight hours you have each day. Throw in horse racing, dog tricks and creepily reading girls’ diaries to Agricola and you have a pretty authentic (and less boring!) Harvest Moon experience.
Plays like: Mouse Trap
This Dreamcast puzzle classic already plays a bit like a tabletop game - it all hinges on placing directional tiles on a grid to lure mice into a rocket ship, all while avoiding angry space cats. But modern technology isn’t yet at a point where we can genetically engineer hundreds of tiny mice and cats to follow such commands in the real world, so how could we replicate the Chu Chu experience in the physical world? By turning the old game of Mouse Trap on its head.
Above: The look and feel already gel with Chu Chu Rocket, it just needs a few adjustments
Rather than collecting cheese, the goal is to collect mice for your rocket ship. The first to fill the ship with X mice (and maybe crank some crazy contraption to make it launch off the board) wins the game. To sabotage other players and keep them from filling their rocket first, you can use the directional tiles to make them accidentally catch cats instead; cats eat mice, so here they’d essentially eat your opponent’s points.
The focus would be more on the mice, cats and wacky space setting and a little less on the Rube Goldberg style machine, but if that’s all you want, make a board game out of The Incredible Machine instead.