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VCR Board Games

February 24, 2016

Some forgotten fads are forgotten for a reason.
VCR Games


In the late 1980s and early ’90s, board game publishers feared that the popularity of video games spelled doom for their industry. Solution: VCR Board Games, which included a board game, and, to compete with electronic games, a videotape. The tape was supposed to make the game more exciting by adding video clips, a story, an interactive element, or just atmosphere. Only problem: the tape usually made the game more confusing, and in some cases, once you knew what was on the video, you couldn’t play the game again. Here are a few “classics” from this forgotten fad.

Star Trek: TNG—A Klingon Challenge (1993)

Plot: The Enterprise-D is docked; the crew is on shore leave (so no actors had to be paid). Klingons hijack the ship, and the players have to work together to regain control of it. Every now and then, the video, which is otherwise just footage of Klingons messing around the ship, abruptly cuts to a Klingon, who might shout, “You! The one that just moved!” and order that player to lose a turn.

HI-HO! CHERRY-O! (1987)

The classic board game was simple: spin a wheel and remove that number of plastic “cherries” from your tree, when it’s empty, you win. The VCR game version had 20 minutes of instructions, directing how tree pictures are to be laid out, topped with face-down discs that get turned over whenever players find the animal picture card that matches up with the sound made by a cartoon animal in the video.


It’s a Dungeons and Dragons-like board game. The tape explains how to play it, then creates atmosphere with random images of knights, wizards, and goblins running around while you play the board game.

Rich Little’s VCR Charades (1985)

Famed impersonator Rich Little acts out a word or phrase—silently. Players have to guess the answer before the players on the video figure it out. After you’ve played the game once, you know all the answers. (Then it goes to Goodwill.)

Uncle John's Perpetually Pleasing Bathroom Reader

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