I'm Totally Board!Sarah Heyward

I was very into board games when I was little. That tends to happen when you suck at sports, aren’t allowed to watch TV after school and are so bossy that your friends refuse to play make-believe because you always get to be the princess (hey, it was my house, right?!). Board games were pretty much all I had left. And boy did we have a lot of them. There were, of course, the classics (Hungry Hungry Hippos, Operation, Trouble). But some of my favorites were a little less, well, timeless.

13 Dead End Drive

This was like a murder-themed version of Mousetrap. You’re trying to conceal your identity from the other players in an attempt to win a wealthy widow’s fortune. Fun! But while the murder theme is much more exciting than the let’s-just-call-an-exterminator original, 13 Dead End Drive shares the very worst aspect of Mousetrap: it takes FOREVER to set up. All those little traps with plastic parts that had to be arranged just so. I loved the idea of this game but probably played it only once or twice, and only after begging my parents to set it up for me.
It had a very memorable commercial, of course.

Thin Ice

Not to be confused with Don’t Break the Ice. The concept behind this winner involved trying to drop wet marbles onto a piece of tissue pulled taut over a tray without breaking “the ice” (the tissue). If it sounds at once convoluted and extremely basic, you’ve got the idea. It did come with its own pack of tissues and I remember being very upset when they ran out.
Another great commercial.

Ask Zandar

This was more of a girly game, in that there was no clear competitive purpose and jewels were involved. In the tradition of Magic 8 Balls and Ouija boards, this game consisted of asking Zandar – a wizard enclosed in a globe – a question and trying to guess what his answer would be. Then, after waving your hand over the globe, he would magically answer. Kind of pointless. Kind of awesome. If you guessed right, you got to collect a rainbow gemstone. Maybe I should resurrect Zandar from my mom’s basement to help me with future important life decisions…
Here he is in all his glory.


And the complete opposite of Ask Zandar was this game involving pushing little pucks into your opponent’s goal. It was gussied up with elaborate boy-color designs and a really, really exciting commercial involving lightning, smoke and a catchy jingle.

Enchanted Forest

This is one of the least-known of all the games I loved. You travel around a forest finding “treasure” under each tree and you have to remember which treasures were where so that when the King asks you to retrieve one… oh I don’t know. It was pretty and magical and had the word “enchanted” in the title, so yes I loved it!
This one was too, um, special to have a commercial, but you can still buy it here.

Clue: The Great Museum Caper

This was a spin-off of plain old Clue. It involved a 3D board (sounds fun but code for another hard-to-set-up game), one person playing the “thief” and everyone else as detectives who try to hunt him down. I’ve always been a big fan of the original Clue despite the fact that it’s kind of an extremely boring game, so this was a nice variation.

Girl Talk

This was one of the only games I used exactly as the commercial suggested: at slumber parties, surrounded by giggling girls. You had to answer embarrassing questions and do dares like prank call the boy you liked or drink a glass of water upside down. If you failed, you had to wear a ZIT STICKER! Needless to say, hilarity ensued.
There were also awesome spin-off games.

Tales of the Crystals

No one remembers this game and it’s so trippy that I wouldn’t be surprised if I had dreamed it up all along. It’s an elaborate fantasy game in which cassette tapes guide you around your house and yard. You perform tasks, journal about them (!) and collect crystals. Unsurprisingly, many of my favorite games seem to have involved crystals. When I looked up Tales online recently, I also found this other game, Jewels in the Attic. I’m very upset I didn’t know about this sooner.

The Babysitter’s Club Game

Kind of a Babysitter’s Club-themed version of Girl Talk. The point of the game was to “share stories”. Seriously. Oh, and to “make your friends giggle and sometimes groan.”
I can’t believe there was actually a commercial for this.

Fireball Island
A little too aggressive for me but the commercial was amazing. The game involved trying to steal a ruby from a tiki at the top of a volcanic mountain. Sort of like a board game version of Legends of the Hidden Temple. Periodically, the mountain would spit fireballs (red marbles) at you.

Fun City

The premise of this one is deceptively simple: “Roll and move around the board. When the city clock reaches 5:00pm, stop and see who has won.” It was my best friend Abby’s favorite game and she claims it’s a lot harder than it sounds.

Grape Escape

Ah, yes, I can still sing the Grape Escape theme song in its entirety. Another elaborate game board designed to squash the little clay “grapes” that represented each player. Not to be confused with Splat, a seemingly identical game.

Guess Who

I had to include this even though everyone has heard of it and they totally still make it today. This game – in which you had to choose a character and answer questions about him while trying to prevent your opponent from guessing who you were – was one of my favorites. I remember playing with a particularly dense friend in 2nd grade who couldn’t grasp the concept and each round, after I asked the very first question (“Is it a boy?”), she’d shout out, “No, silly, it’s Susan!”. A fun grown-up variant is to play this game but be creative with the questions: “Does this person look like they’d have bacne?” or “Would this guy murder his whole family?” are good openers.
See how fun it is here.

Of course, there were many games I knew about but didn’t want (Pizza Party, Don’t Wake Daddy, Shark Attack) and others I coveted but wasn’t allowed to have (Mall Madness, Electronic Dream Phone). The latter two I have bought in recent years but they aren’t nearly as magical as they would have been in the era of pouffy side ponytails and acid-washed overalls.

On a final note, I rediscovered this game the other day, and an embarrassing amount of eBay time and money later, I own it. Now I’ve just gotta find the right middle school slumber party… and a VCR.

Images via hasbro.com, toy-tma.com, boardgamesexpress.com, tressugar.com, gameshepherd.wordpress.com, upillar.com, trollandtoad.com, alotaboutnothing.com, imgfave.com, teamtoyboxes.com.au, fireballisle.com, listal.com, boardgamescritic.com, and forladiesbyladies.com

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  • http://www.facebook.com/daisykez Kristin Zaubzer

    OMG! I loved, loved, loved the Girl Talk games & Babysitter’s Club!! My poor mom, I must’ve made her play them w me a thousand times! & Mall Madness was fun but another one that required some set up, usually by the time I was done setting my “shops” I didn’t wanna play anymore so I’d just leave it set out for the next day, lol. Great post!! That was fun!

    • http://www.facebook.com/daisykez Kristin Zaubzer

      Oh yea, & Sweet Valley High!! The best!

  • http://www.facebook.com/alicemvaught Alice Vaught

    an embarrassingly high percentage of parties I throw devolve into team pretty pretty princess, with 2-4 men and women on each team taking turns spinning and wearing the jewelry.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=61101261 Becca Robson

    What about Atmosphere? I was playing that game way into my late teens. Although later versions used to involve alcohol. There’s a shiny new version which includes a DVD (as opposed to VHS), fancy!


    • http://www.facebook.com/shinyunicorn Sarah Heyward

      Was Atmosphere called Nightmare when we were little?!

  • http://www.facebook.com/melpo.christofi Melpo Christofi

    I too had Girl Talk and The Baby-Sitters Club Game! Or should I say have? After reading this I am going straight to my parents’ house to reclaim possession of these wonderful games. Can’t wait to stick on a fake zit.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=44601388 Chrissa Hardy

    AHH Party Mania, Guess Who, & Girl Talk were OUTSTANDING!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/hiimtoni Toni Torres

    Zit Stickers!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/pinkgrapefruits87 Lauren Nespoli

    I love this post! I had forgotten about some of those games! I loved board games too. I had 13 Dead End Drive until all the pieces started breaking. Thin Ice was fun too, and Ask Zandar! Sometimes we would just ask him things and not play the game, haha. I definitely had Girl Talk, The Babysitter’s Club game, the Grape Escape, and Guess Who? also! Ooh, and what about Mall Madness and Dream Phone?! I wish I still had some of those games, lol!

  • http://www.facebook.com/kayteg Kayte Gleason

    Oh my gosh–I randomly remembered Tales of the Crystals and how much I loved it when I read about Enchanted Forest and then there it was on your list! I didn’t think anyone else had that!

  • http://www.facebook.com/vanessaannwoods Vanessa-Ann Woods

    Mall Madness!!!! “There is a sale in the kitchen store…AND in the sunglasses boutique.” “Blue, go seven. And SEND. A FRIEND. ANYWHERE!”

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1287687091 Ellen Lewis

    Guess Who is one of my favorites too! I used to pretend that since there were the red and blue sets you were deciding the employee of the month for either Target or Walmart. ._.

  • http://www.facebook.com/penguinys Nyssa Sager

    Yes! I totally loved (and still love) board games! Enchanted Forest was also one of my faves :D I think it’s pretty common though, because I found that game at my boyfriend’s house as well. Yaaay for board games!

  • http://www.facebook.com/robynisindecisive Robyn RW

    Enchanted Forest was one of my favorites! I played that game well into my teens, which is when I handed it to my friend’s younger sister, who was enthralled.

    I should see if I can find it again….

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=7903958 Nicole Jornet

    I tripped down the stairs holding Ask Zandar and broke the ball. Pretty sure I cried a little.

  • http://www.facebook.com/emily.heyward Emily Heyward

    I LOVED Enchanted Forest!!!!! I wish I could look at it right now. What was that other game that was maybe a murder mystery, I feel like it took place in London or something like that, and around the board were different houses/apartments, the board was beautifully illustrated, very dark…

    • http://www.facebook.com/shinyunicorn Sarah Heyward

      221B Baker Street?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=622655179 Lauren Jefferson

    I loved tales of the crystal. My mom on the other hand hated it because she had to hide everything so me and my friends could play.

  • http://www.facebook.com/emilymerrick Emily Merrick

    Candy Land was my FAVORITE when I was really little. I would cry if I didn’t get Queen Frostine, so my parents would stack the deck so I would get her every time.

    • http://www.facebook.com/emilymerrick Emily Merrick

      OH! And my cousin had Pretty Pretty Princess, the game where you put on all of the costume jewelry and whoever gets the tiara wins the game (or something to that effect). Lots of princess themes in my childhood play.

  • http://www.facebook.com/courtney.johnson Courtney Johnson

    Enchanted Forrest! I was obsessed with that game! I had no idea that other people loved it! So much fun!

  • http://www.facebook.com/brittany.schernik Brittany Schernik

    Mall Madness and Dream Phone…me and my sister used to play that all the time. It was fun, but thinking about it now…the concept is kind of lame. And the Baby Sitters Club game, I believe we had that one too. Me and my brother played crossfire, till all the little marbles got lost. Man, good times.

  • http://www.facebook.com/rsimmers Becky Simmers

    oh my gosh! i love thin ice! we recently bought a cheapo version at Five Below. Of course we ran out of tissues, but we just use our own and occasionally use paper towels. Depending on the brand, we can stack household objects on it before the ‘ice’ breaks.

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