Syd Lexia's First Law of Pop Culture: If it was popular between 1975 and 1995, then there is a board game based on it.
You've seen the movie. You've read the books. You've watched the entire TV series and achieved every ending in the video game.
Now it's time to play... The Board Game.
Well, if you hate yourself, anyway.
You thought licensed video games were bad? Licensed board games have all the problems of licensed video games, compounded upon the fact that video games are quite a bit further out of the main stream than board games. Licensed video games will tend to be derivative, but at least they'll tend to be derivative of something that was good in the first place. Licensed board games will tend to be derivative of something that was mind-numbingly boring in the first place. In fact, often they won't even bother with making a derivative of an old game, they'll just take the game and change the name and pieces. For instance, the countless versions of Monopoly, Cluedo (or Clue, if you're a yankee) and Uno, regardless of whether the game fits the theme.
Not only that, but as board games fall under most people's radar, it's likely that more than one board game will be made of a franchise, with the exact same name, because nobody cared enough to keep track.
Even the best of series can easily get this treatment; whether or not the result turns out any good seems to depend on whether the makers bothered to find a company that actually makes good board games. (If they do, it's no guarantee the result will be good, of course, but at least it won't be abysmal, which is what will usually happen if they don't.)
Particularly ridiculous examples:
- It seems to be inevitable that nearly everything will get a custom version of Monopoly. Because apparently the characters from Star Wars, while they weren't making war, were actually monopolistic landlords. Especially ridiculous since many of the custom versions don't even involve real estate. Take the Nintendo version, for example- you're buying and selling video game characters, and paying rent on them. And instead of houses and hotels, you "build" powerups and invincibility. They don't even try to justify it by having the players be video game publishers buying and selling the rights to the games- all the terms used are pretty much the same as the regular real estate version.
- It is now completely inevitable, given the existence of Make-Your-Own Monopoly. It's just a deck of blank cards and a board, and you can write whatever you want on them.
- Doctor Who has a Monopoly version, with Matt Smith's face on it. Considering the Doctor a) doesn't know how much a sack full of pound notes is worth, and b) opposes all forms of tyranny (even economic, as demonstrated in The Sun Makers), Monopoly is perhaps not the best property for the Doctor Who brand.
- Star Trek having a version of Monopoly is even more ironic, considering that the Federation is stated to have moved beyond capitalism and the acquisition of wealth.
- Risk is also becoming a victim of this. One example was the Transformers version, with Earth replaced by Cybertron. Wikipedia lists other versions, such as The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars and Narnia. Now there's even a Metal Gear Risk. Not half-bad, though.
- There are also Diplomacy maps for many series, including A Song of Ice and Fire.
- Uno is a completely abstract game, and can really be played with an ordinary deck of cards. The cards really don't represent anything. That hasn't stopped people, though. To their credit, though, the licensed versions do add new cards to the mix — and they can even be added to a standard deck or one of the other licensed versions for a mash-up.
- The Pac-Man board game is a particularly egregious example, resetting the game as a glacially-paced Hungry Hungry Hippos. Setting up the game involves laboriously placing marbles on the board. But the player's token was kind of neat in how it ate the marbles.
- There was a boardgame based on Capcom's Street Fighter II. The outcome of the battles was fully dependent on dice rolls, and the diverse cast of characters all played exactly the same.
- Saved by the Bell: the boardgame. You win by scoring the most points. How do you score points? By scoring with Zack or Slater. Yeah... it's a dating game for girls.
- There was a Pirates of the Caribbean tie-in called Pirate's Dice, modeled after a game played in the movies. Except in the movies they are just playing Liars Dice, a game that only requires a few D6s and cups.
- The Rollercoaster Tycoon board game. The rules were complex and took forever to finish.
- The Legend of Zelda board game.
- The Princess Bride:
- The Princess Bride: Prepare to Die. All you do is draw cards and use them to make phrases that follow the pattern "Hello. My name is [NAME]. You [VERBED MY NOUN]. Prepare to die.".
- There is a The Princess Bride-themed Scrabble knockoff titled Princess Bride Scwamble Game.
- Many themed chess sets leave the (admittedly decent) base game alone and just shoehorn characters into the roles of the pieces. All this really accomplishes is confusing players — now they have to keep trying to remember which characters do what. This is made more annoying by three things: (1) Many sets are based on a conflict (often white as heroes versus black as villains), so e.g. the white bishops may be completely different from the black bishops. (2) Each player has two bishops, knights and rooks, so the game has to either duplicate the characters or let up to four different characters serve the same role.note (3) The choices of characters may be counter-intuitive, with e.g. the power of the characters not matching the power of the pieces (queen > rook > bishop ≈ knight > pawn).
- The Super Mario Bros. chess set has nonsensical pieces. You'd think Princess Peach would be the king or queen, but she's a bishop — Luigi is the white queen. Generic Toads serve as white rooks, which makes them more powerful than Peach even though most of them are minor NPCs in the Mario games, and Peach tends to be easier to use when both are playable. Black's bishops are Magikoopas while their rooks are Goombas, even though The Goomba is a far weaker enemy. Pawns are, respectively, coins and green shells. Why they didn't just make Toads and Goombas pawns is anyone's guess.
- The Disney "Heroes & Villains" chess set gives White a team of unrelated heroes, while Black gets a team of unrelated villains. There are also duplicate characters. For instance, White has eight Mickeys (pawns) and two Beasts (bishops), while Black has eight Kaas (pawns) and two Ursulas (bishops).