Blockbuster is doing rather well for itself, all things considered. Despite its collapse in 2013, the video rental chain still managed to shuffle into the spotlight in 2019 via Captain Marvel when she added an impromptu skylight to the roof of a 1990s store. Fast-forward to now and it’s resurfacing yet again with a party throwback from Big Potato Games, creators of Obama Llama and Bucket of Doom.
It's not another quiz wannabe, though. Trust me, you'll want to take note of this one - Blockbuster tops our list of board games for adults.
Be kind, rewind
Much like Big Potato's other releases, this is a party game that relies on quick reactions. It’s also a cute nod to everything ‘90s: the box is modelled after a VHS case, its cards are designed to look like tapes, and the board is reminiscent of an old Blockbuster car park. It even features the iconic but-slightly-wonky sign.
However, it’s not a slave to nostalgia. Although Blockbuster: The Game trades on happy memories at a surface level, the gameplay is more than strong enough to hold your attention even if you never set foot in a Blockbuster store.
And before you say it, no - you don't need to know lots about films to play. This is a game anyone can get involved with. In fact, it quickly earned itself a place on our best board games list for that reason.
So, how does it work? Blockbuster: The Game is similar to other speedy quizzers like Five Second Rule or Pinch ‘N’ Pass. You’re racing against the clock to describe, quote, and act out as many movies as you can. Aimed at teams of at least two people per side, the goal is to build a deck of eight ‘genre’ cards before your opponents do. And that's it. As with any good party game, it's easy to explain, understand, and set up. This makes Blockbuster ideal for a get-together with friends or family.
It doesn’t take any prisoners either. For example, Round One is amusingly brutal. After being given a category to work with (e.g. “movies with dogs”) a member of each team has to yell out a relevant film and hit the buzzer. That resets the 15-second time limit. This head-to-head squabble continues until one side can’t think of anything else. Which will happen faster than you think, by the way. Every sensible answer seems to leak out of your head just as the timer starts ticking.
Taking no prisoners
‘Triple Charades Jeopardy’ comes next, and the winner of Round One takes charge. Don’t worry, it’s less intimidating than it sounds. Whoever came out on top picks six random cards from the deck. A movie will be featured on each of them, ranging from The Dark Knight to Jaws. They then have to describe the first film using one word, use/make up a quote from the second, and mime a third for their team. The twist? Players only have 30 seconds to get through the lot.
Oh, and one more thing: the winner of Round One is able to pick the three easiest movies for themselves, saving harder ones for their opponents. It’s deliciously evil, and I’m all for it.
Once that’s over, both rounds repeat until one side or another has claimed eight genre cards and victory. The result is a lot of light-hearted silliness. It's a real laugh for those who are OK with time pressure, and it'll appeal to most people as well.
In short, Blockbuster is a great way to spend your evening, especially if drinks are involved and spirits are high. If you can get a large enough group together, it’s also a fun exercise in teamwork and/or exasperation. While it's not necessarily the best cooperative board game out there, it's a good ice-breaker nonetheless.
Basically, Blockbuster is a success even if its namesake is dead and buried.