Just like the decade itself, 80s board games were loud, colorful, bigger-than-life … and pretty much ridiculous (unlike, say, online Connect Four).
I mean, where else could you get Alfred E. Newman, Clara Peller, Mr. T., and Duran Duran all in one place.
Well, yeah, on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.
But also in the confines of these ten ridiculous 80s board games.
The Mad Magazine Game
Want to make your parents or friends undertake ridiculous stunts just to win a board game? Want to act ridiculous yourself, safe in the impunity that comes from the confines of said board game. Want to act smug and full of yourself, and poke fun at everything, all while knowing you can “what, me worry?” your way out of any backlash.
Then the Mad Magazine Game is for you. Sure, this baby debuted in 1979, but it was pure 1980s parental torture.
It was — and is — perfect.
Where’s the Beef: The Fast-Food Race Game
Has there ever been a more popular old lady than Clara Peller, who crashed the American consciousness in Wendy’s campaign to badmouth the size of their competitors’ burgers?
“Where’s the beef?” became a rallying cry for anyone who became indignant about a lack of anything in any walk of life, and Clara was their mascot.
After all, how many board games does Betty White have to her name? (Well, sure there’s the Golden Girls Clue game, but other than that.)
Duran Duran Game: Into the Arena
Is there any band that says “1980s” more than Duran Duran?
But as soon as you hear the first trains of techno-Euro beats and a couple of synth-sung notes in a breath voice, you know you’re listening to 1980s royalty.
And what better way to stay in touch with your 80s musical roots than by working against other players to collect five disc cards and then, in the inner circle, five band member cards?
None, that’s what.
Let’s Be Safe
Joan Lunden was everybody’s best friend, everybody’s sister, everybody’s mom during her long run on Good Morning America, and there may have been no one Americans trusted more.
Well, maybe Bill Cosby, but …
Let’s just say, Milton Bradley made a good choice by pegging Lunden as the spokesperson for Let’s Be Safe, a matching game that let parents and kids tackle tough issues like bullying and gingivitis (maybe, but probably not).
No Respect: Rodney Dangerfield’s Game
Rodney Dangerfield made a career out of getting no respect, and then perpetuated that status by making a bunch of unwatchable stuff.
Or maybe I’m just not respecting him properly.
Either way, Rodney managed to wrangle some cashage from Milton Bradley by being the front man for this game that’s sort of like Trouble without the Pop-O-Matic joy, but not really.
This thing came out in 1989 at a time when the Nintendo Game Boy was working hard to make Tetris a household name, and a favorite among classroom-disrupting kids everywhere.
But, boy, it must have been a lot more fun to play this on a board, jigsaw-puzzle-style, huh?
Every teenager loves jigsaw puzzles. Especially more than video games.
Survive: Escape from Atlantis!
This is sort of like a mashup of those old paper-based war games where you would build bunkers and then your opponent would blow them up with graphite Xs and Fortnite, where you have to outlast everyone else while the world collapses.
And, if you’re ranking these 1980s games in terms of ridiculousness, this one is probably at the bottom of our list, though it was pretty silly to 1) think it could compete with joysticks and 2) not realize that Atlantis is actually Antarctica or Spain or Florida or Topeka.
The Smurf Game
La, LA, la-la, la la … la, la, la, la, laaa
You head out into the Smurfing woods to collect some Smurfing vittles — acorns, apples, strawberries, and grapes.
Not Smurfberries, though.
And if you get back first, you win … though you may get eaten by Azrael, Gargamel’s cat.
The Family Ties Game
You want ridiculous?
This game cuts it with its very premise, pitting you as one of the Keaton family members as you try to gather the rest in one place for a family video without them knowing about it, and also while you try to scrape together $100.
Silliness all around.
Mr. T Game
In this one, Mr. T is coaching a gymnastics team, just like in his 1980s cartoon.
He’s got to get them to the airport to catch a plane, and time is short (isn’t it always).
To make matters worse, each team member has to complete some tasks before they are ready to leave.
To make matters even more ridiculous than that, it’s all encapsulated in a board game. This board game.
Enjoy the 80s kitsch!