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VHS Game

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"...even earlier than the very first CD-roms, you could still find a ton of full-motion video games — in the form of board games that is."

Back in The '80s, several video companies took advantage of VCR technology to develop games that used both video and board game elements. Many of which were adaptations of existing properties.

The medium managed a surprising diversity in both the genre of videos used and in the genre of gameplay used. Some Action-Adventure videos hybridized with Light Gun Game toys/controllers, while others used traditional Board Games or specialty cards. The video was also used in several ways, including a Framing Device, a way to introduce random elements, and a timer.

The rapid development of consoles and PC games rendered this medium obsolete, as many of the video elements could be incorporated into Point-and-Click style computer games. The more unique elements of this medium actually do survive via the newer Toys to Life genre.

Examples of this medium:

  • Action Max: This console system hybridized a Light Gun Game with a VHS tape. The tapes, in fact, were the different games you could play.
  • America's Funniest Home Videos Game: Whereas the tape may double as a fine collection of clips from the show, the game involves predicting a player's rating for three consecutive clips, answering questions about them, or determining which player gave each caption.
  • Atmosfear - VHS Board Game, also known as Nightmare: The video acts as a clock while players compete with the board game. At certain times, the host (or guests) would announce changes to the rules to keep the players on their toes. The host wins the game if time runs out without a winner. Later editions would replace the VHS tape with a DVD, and even later with an app.
  • Candy Land VCR Board Game: An adaptation of Candy Land, Milton Bradley combined video with cards, where the goal was to collect the most cards. The video clips would hide clues, and the first person to match the clue to a card would collect that card.
  • Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future: Toys, designed to interact with the cartoon, would be able to keep track of your hits and misses during certain segments. Due to being cut short, Mattel produced additional VCR tapes to use with the toys.
  • Clue VCR Mystery Game: An adaptation of Clue, by Parker Brothers. The regular game of Cluedo, minus the board, gets elements brought to life via live-action actors. Players compete to try to solve the mystery of who killed Mr Boddy. Trope Maker and Ur-Example of this trope.
  • Commercial Crazies: Players watched actual 30-second commercials for products or services, then answered questions about things that happened in the commercial.
  • Doorways To Adventure: A hybrid of cards and video, the objective is to collect the most valuable pile of stuff. The video segments featured an item (on the cards), and players would bid on the price. The player who guessed closest to the actual price of the item won.
  • Doorways To Horror: The video portion of the game uses old royalty-free horror movies, while the dice tell you where to fast-forward to different scenes. Players cast magic spells against the monsters to earn gold. The player with the most gold wins the game.
  • Eyewitness Newsreel Challenge VCR Board Game: This game challenges players to memorize details from a video clip. The player who recalls the information most accurately wins.
  • Gargoyles the Movie Game: A bonus included at the end of the home video release of the five-part "Awakening" series. The players have 20 minutes to get to the end of the board (the Eyrie Building) before recurring villain David Xanatos uses his Steel Clan to destroy the Gargoyles.
  • Isaac Asimov's Robots: VCR Mystery Game: An adaptation of The Caves of Steel and other Elijah Baley stories, where the players work together to form a third part of the detective team. While Detective Baley goes around investigating, the video tells you when to draw cards for extra clues. During Baley's explanation of events, he stops short of naming the culprit to ask for the player's help. The player can then confirm their ending by checking the manual with all the solutions.
  • A Klingon Challenge: A unique story is brought to life for an adaptation of Star Trek: The Next Generation. The game itself hybridizes a 60-minute Race Against the Clock episode with a board game where players work together to prevent a Klingon terrorist from hijacking the Enterprise and using it to start a Klingon-Federation war.
  • Party Mania: A girls' board game where the players have from 10:00 to 6:00 (30 minutes, game time) to be rid of their chore cards, collect their six "Get Ready" items, and complete a "Stamp of Approval" action to win. Or at least, be able to go to the class party instead of the nerdy neighbors' dinner.
  • Rap Rat: The video is used as a timer, while players race around a game board, collecting cheese. The host (the titular Rap Rat) also gives instructions at "random" points during the video. The game is somewhat notorious for its uncanny puppet mascot inspiring a Creepypasta.
  • Bandai's Terebikko, a toy telephone that decoded audio signals from a VHS tape to have characters call the viewer and ask for help. Interaction was limited to pressing one of four different colored buttons to answer questions and getting different responses depending on whether you got the right answer or not. It's best known for having a game based on Super Mario World.
  • VCR 221 B Baker Street: An adaptation of Sherlock Holmes, where players work as a third part of the detective team. Ten mysteries are available for players to compete in solving.
  • The VCR Basketball Game: Authorized by the National Basketball Association, this Sports Game combines video of real NBA games and a board game. Players take the role of coaches and try to encourage their team to score more baskets than their opponent.
  • VCR California Games: Created by Epyx, this adaptation of California Games hybridized a board game with videos of live-action sports maneuvers. Players competed to see who could earn $100 first, and buy a ticket home.
  • Video Buddy: Interactive Learning Group created a small console with a sensor hidden in a suction cup to attach to the TV. VHS tapes available for it were of popular preschool shows at the time, with interactive activities matted in between episodes. These shows included Paddington Bear, Muppet Babies (1984), Salty's Lighthouse, Dino Babies, The Big Comfy Couch, and Once Upon A Tree.
  • Video Driver: A joint venture of Sega and Tyco, this was a "Driving Game" involving a steering-wheel controller and a light sensor with detachable car cover that slid along a platform that was set to rest along the bottom of the TV screen. The gameplay was score-based, with a counter going down if the sensor/car touched either of the flashing white bars that shifted along with the video's roads. Including that of the base set, three tapes were made for it in all, involving different vehicles; the standard car, a Formula 1 racer, and police car.

Examples of this medium in fiction:


Video Example(s):



Atmosfear (also originally known as Nightmare in Australia, the game's country of origin, and America) was a horror-themed board game developed and released in 1991 by Australian-based A Couple 'A Cowboys, and followed players as they attempted to confront their greatest fears while taking on challenging odds and a creepy host.

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