Players: 2 teams
Time to play: 30-45 mins
Set-up time: 2 mins
Avg. price: $28 / £20
Blockbuster's doing pretty well this year, all things considered. Despite its collapse in 2013, the video rental chain still managed to shuffle into the spotlight last March via Captain Marvel when she added an impromptu skylight to the roof of a 1990s store. Fast-forward a few months and it’s resurfacing yet again with a new party throwback from Big Potato Games, creators of Obama Llama and Bucket of Doom. Enter Blockbuster: The Game.
Much like Big Potato's other releases, this is a trivia quiz 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. We managed to get our hands on it just after launch and came away impressed. In fact, it quickly earned itself a place on our best board games list. And before you say it, no - you don't need to know lots about films. This is a game anyone can get involved with.
Be kind, rewind
So how does it work? Blockbuster 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. That's it. As with any good party game, it's easy to explain, understand, and set up. That 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.
‘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 lighthearted silliness. It's a real laugh for those who are OK with time pressure, and it'll appeal to most people as well. That makes Blockbuster 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: The Game is a success even if its namesake is dead and buried.
At just $28 / £20, it’s not bad value for money either. As Big Potato Games says, “the golden age of video rentals is back”. I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty happy with its return.