Monday, November 12, 2007

Space and Science Fiction Themed Games 1: Vintage

It's been said that some game publishers are, or used to be, not keen on publishing science fiction themed games because they don't sell well.

Apparently this is a throwback to the days when TV and films also were reluctant to publish science fiction because they didn't sell. Nowadays, this thinking is old-fashioned, as science fiction succeeds admirably well today in books and films.

Modern science fiction and space games date to the beginning of the space race, and only sporadically from before this. Science fiction novels predate space exploration by a good fifty years or so if you count back to H. G. Wells and co, and even further if you include Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and other works of cautionary morality. But not so much with games.

As with any list of this sort, one has to ask what I left out: fantasy, horror, astrology, psychic, and superhero games. The pictures were brazenly stolen from BGG.

Pre 20th Century - Astronomy Games

A few games dealing with astronomy predate the modern era, such as these two games from Persia.

Astronomical Tables

This is kind of a space-themed Backgammon game with seven tracks.


This is a roll and move game from Persia where you score points based on the positions of the planets after each roll.

Star Hopping

A roll and move game of collecting tokens from 1830.

Early 1900s - Pre Space Race

Just a few games here cashing in on popular pulp books from the era.

Martian Chess (Jetan)

Essentially a chess variant from an Edgar Rice Burroughs novel.

Buck Rogers (1930s)

Three games in one, with cards and playing pieces.

Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (1930s)

A children's card game.

Spaceship (1940s)

No idea.

1950s - Exploration

The '50s games reflect the nostalgic and optimistic thinking of their times. Games are family dramas about exploration and discovery, where nothing bad can ever happen to you and there are no conflicts, because everyone is American and everyone likes to be conquered by them.

Astro the Wizard from Mars

No idea.


An around the world game with rocket ships and a scrolling game board that rolls around two spools. Published as a non-space themed game called Sky Lanes.

Blast Off

Roll and move game of extracting minerals and returning to Earth.


A nuclear themed version of Battleship. (1959)

Captain Video

A spin and move game based on a TV show. Explore the solar system.

Leave it to Beaver: Rocket to the Moon

Roll and move game themed according to the show.

Magic Robot Quiz

More of a toy than a game, a robot rotates around from the question to the answer based on magnets. With only 14 questions, this makes for rather little in the way of replay value.

Melvin the Moon Man

Roll and move game of collecting moonbucks.


Keep passing cards until someone has a complete set.

Rocket Control Magnet Target Game

No idea.

Rocket Race

Some sort of race game.

Rocket Sockit

Shoot the rockets at the target with a toy gun.

Rockets Away

A dexterity game like Tiddley-Winks with rockets. Land on planets to claim them.

Space Bug

Roll a die and put a peg on your space bug until all your bugs are pegged.

Space Chase

Collect parts to build your rocket and then land it.

Space Chess

This is simply 3-D Chess, and called Space Chess because Star Trek featured 3-D Chess in one of its episodes. here are a few special rules added.

Space Game

A spin and move game, where the spinner game you two choices of numbers. Explore space and collect treasures.

Space Line

This is simply 3-D 4x4x4 Tic Tac Toe.

Space Mouse

Some sort of card game.

Space Pilot

A spin and move game, where the planets you land on give you cash (points).

Space Race

A card game where you draw cards and hope you get numbers from 1 to 10.

Space Race

A colorful game of rockets and boosters with cards, dice and a board.

Star Games

An astronomy game, which includes going outside to actually find the constellations.

Steve Scott Space Scout

No idea.

Walt Disney's Tomorrowland Rocket to the Moon

A roll and move game, where the last act is to flick your piece and get it to land as close to the moon picture as possible.

Wipe Off

Space themed battleship, possibly the first space-themed combat game. (1959)

1960s - Politics and Space Race

It took the Space Race, the slow rise of war games, and the movie 2001: A Space Oddity to disrupt the notion that all is well within the science fiction universe.

Astro Blitz

An abstract game with some sci-fi theme.

Astro Launch

A space-themed game of Pachisi.


Card game of racing to the moon by building sets.

Atom Ant Saves the Day

Based on the TV show character.

Beyond the Stars

A spin and move game with special cards.

Blast Off

Not sure, but the game included some neat minis, and a rocket that actually launched.

Blast Off!

Explore nine planets, and force other player's ships to return home.

Buck Rogers

No idea.


Roll and move space exploration game.


Simulating the Appolo space mission, roll and move game to collect space parts and launch your rocket.

Fantastic Voyage

Roll and move game based on the movie.

Flash Gordon

Rescue the five imprisoned generals of the Hawkman Lancers.

Frankenstein Mystery Game

Not properly belonging on this list, I'll list it anyway as Frankenstein was more sci fi than horror.


One of the few non-space games in the list, this is a game of answering questions about the future and then comparing your answers to top futurologists from the 1960s.


An exploration game of flipping up tiles and trying to find the mountain tiles. Some movement calculations make this a bit more than a simple luck game.

Jetsons Fun Pad

A dexterity game of placing cars on a pad and trying not to tip the platform. Based on the TV show.

Jetsons Out of this World

Roll and move game based on the TV show.

Jetsons: Rosey the Robot

Spin and move game based on the TV show.

Know the Stars and Planets

A trivia game about stars and planets.

Lost in Space

A spin and move game based on the TV show.

Lost in Space 3D Action

Another spin and move game based on the TV series, but this one has three levels making it visually more interesting.

Major Matt Mason

A spin and move game. Based on a line of toys. Discover signs of life.

Men Into Space

A spin and move game of rescuing a space colony.

Moon Probe

A spin and move race game to the moon and back.

My Favorite Martian

Roll and move game based on the TV show.

Nuclear War

Satirical card and spinner game of annihilating your opponent.

Outer Limits

Card game themed on the TV show.


Another space themed battleship.


An abstract 3M bookshelf board game (1970).

Rendezvous in Space

An electronic game of space exploration with transparencies and instructions lit up on the board.

Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots

Probably the only well known game on this list, a dexterity game of pushing buttons until the other guy's robot head is knocked off.

Solar Conquest

Cards and dice space race game, where you can sabotage other countries.

Space Checkers

A 3-D Checkers game.

Star Trek

The board game based on the TV show. Play cards and roll the dice to move and refuel, visiting three planets.

The Time Machine

No idea.


This is merely an abstract game with stills from the movie 2001.

1970s and on - War and Aliens

War games defined the gaming geek world, and at the end of the decade roleplaying began to spread. The 1970s brought with it a host of new science fiction movies and TV shows to the public, such as Star Wars, Logans Run, Battlestar Galactica, the Bionic Man, and so on, all of which spawned games.

To be continued.



tranzat said...

Great list I really enjoyed it.
What about the old vintage card game
Astronaut by Pepys.
This Early 1960s game was based on Moon Race, with 44 cards it has some great illustrations of the spacecraft of the day including the Sputnik, Telstar, Mercury and Vostok capsules. Not pure SF I know, but futuristic Maybe?
best wishes
The Curator
Mother Goose's Attic

Yehuda said...

Great find, tranzat. I added it to the list.