At my house, we always start the new year with new board games found under our tree, and this year, it’s included some really fun board games inspired by 80s movies. As we face the fact that there’s a whole lot of winter to go (and stay-at-home orders and family time) I love the idea of having a 80s-themed movie-and-a-game night with the kids.
Gen Xers may have a particular fondness for Footloose or Bill & Ted or A Christmas Story, but these movies have all become classics for all ages, including our kids.
So hey, pop in one of these movies (up to you whether your kids are ready for The Shining!), then relax by the fire if you’ve got one and play the matching board game.
Serving up 80s-era Bagel Bites and Capri Suns, totally optional. Like, totally.
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The Footloose Card Game
I’ve played the Footloose Party Game several times, and can recommend it as a fast, fun game that is great for kids too — whether they’ve seen the movie (or the musical) or not. You play the game in several rounds and, each one using a different card game mechanic. Some rounds are similar to Blackjack and others are more like War. It takes just about 15 minutes to play a complete game and it’s really easy to pick up. Unlike dancing to 80s music, at least if you’re Willard.
The Back to the Future Board Game
If you loved the movie — and uh, who doesn’t? — then you’ll thoroughly enjoy the Back to the Future: Back in Time Board Game, which really capitalizes on the movie’s plot points. Your aim is to work together collaboratively with other players as you race against time to save the McFly family and return to 1985 before the clock runs out, all while avoiding the snares of Biff and his gang — or in his words, make like a tree and get out of there! I can’t imagine an 80s movie themed game list not including Back to the Future.
Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure Trivia Game
If you like Trivial Pursuit but really like Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, then pick up the Bill & Ted’s Excellent Historical Trivia Game, which is most bodacious. Each character represents a different question category, like Genghis Kahn for Geography, Joan of Arc for Women in History, Beeth-Oven for Music History. (And yes, of course you have to say Beeth-Oven.) First player to collect all six historical figures in their phone booth wins the game.
Die Hard: Nakatomi Heist Board Game
I’m firmly on team “Die Hard is a Christmas movie,” so of course we had to play Die Hard: Nakatomi Heist Board Game over the break. Players form Hans Gruber’s team of thieves and attempt to pull off the heist on Nakatomi Plaza, while one plays as John McClane and attempts to thwart their evil mission — all in under the run time of the film itself. I want to point out that game creators suggest it’s for kids ages 15 and older, but I think that has more to do with the movie and less do to with the actual game play which is just fine for tweens. Yippie Ki Yay…well, you know.
A Christmas Story Card Game
The new A Christmas Story Card Game is a Major Card Game! Well, it’s a simple card game that kids as young as 7 or 8 can easily play — and trust me, you’ll enjoy it long after Christmas. Inspired by the highlights of the 1983 film, your goal is to help Ralphie get his Red Rider BB Gun and secret decoder ring. Players can “triple dog dare” other players to trade cards, or just straight up steal them should they be in possession of the coveted leg lamp.
The Shining Board Game
Where are my 80s horror fans? Yes, there is a The Shining Board Game and I know a lot of people who will be excited to get their hands on this one. The goal, as you might have guessed, is to survive a winter at the Overlook Hotel without going mad. One player starts off “corrupted,” however, and you need to figure out the culprit before they affect everyone else. Even the art is a little creepy on this one, drawing from the iconic imagery from the Kubrick film, so I’d recommend this one for those teens (and parents!) who like a good spooky story.
Jaws: The Board Game
Okay so I’m cheating a little here because both Jaws and Jaws II were released in the 70s, but there’s no Gen X-er I know who wasn’t impacted by that shark in some way. Whether or not your tweens or teens have seen the film, if they enjoy a good strategy board game, then the Jaws Board Game is a terrific addition to your game stash. It takes about an hour, and is played in two rounds: In the first round, one person plays the shark, whose goal is to eat 9 swimmers, while everyone else plays the crew trying to tag the shark. In round two, the crew members climb aboard the Orca and work to fight off the shark before, well, he eats you all.
Despite that very finite ending, it’s enjoyable to play the Jaws Board Game over and over since the one-versus many game play makes it interesting and different every time.
CMP received promotional review copies of some of these games for editorial consideration