Monday, June 02, 2008

VCR Games

Games have been printed on hats, etched into rocks, and played via smoke signal. So why not the next new technology: VHS video?

The annals of media will not look back too kindly on VHS. It's bulky. The tape is weak and tends to break or wear. VCRs come with counters or displays that indicated seconds along the tape, but the controls don't allow you to jump to these counters or seconds. The best you can do was fast forward or reverse while watching the film and hope to land somewhat near where you wanted. So it's basically a one-track, one-way, non-repeatable experience.

You can pause. You can skip forward to some general location and begin playing from there. You can watch a series of clips from sports, television, or movies in a particular order. Given such awesome technology, what kind of game can you make?

Mystery - Mystery games are original scenes, which, after viewing, players have to solve the crime. These games are non-repeatable.

Perception - A bit like mystery games, after viewing a clip, scene, or series of images, players must answer questions, usually of some trivial element in the scene. If the questions are on the tape, the experience is non-repeatable. The questions can be on cards, however, which would make the game repeatable until you've been through all the cards.

Clock - In these games, the tape is used as a clock to impose a fixed time for the accompanying board game. As certain time elements pass, the video may direct some random event to occur during the game. Or, an element in the game may call for something to happen at a certain time on the clock.

In these games, the accompanying visuals and music are also meant to set mood for the game.

Respond - As the story on the tape unfolds, players must scramble to do something as subtle clues occur on screen. The first player to do something wins.

Trivia - Answer questions about on or off-screen trivia. The game takes the place of some other player asking you questions, as would occur in most trivia games.

Outcome - Rather than roll a die, you play the next clip in the video to see the result of your play. Although the order of the clips is determined, the need to use the tape will be the result of a random card pick in the game.

The Games


Clue. VCR Mystery Game (1985) Mystery. Each player is dealt an identity, and players have to solve the mystery and also guess who is whom, based on clues they give.
Eyewitness Newsreel Challenge VCR Board Game (1985) Perception
Rich Little's VCR Charades (1985) Guess the charade that Rich Little is performing. Kind of takes all the fun away from the party game, although Rich Little was a funny comedian.


Agatha Christie: Behind the Scenes (1986) Mystery
Candy Land VCR Board Game (1986) Respond
Chutes and Ladders VCR (1986) Respond
Commercial Crazies VCR Game (1986) Perception
Disney Cartoon Classic VCR game (1986) Respond
Disney Movie Classics VCR game (1986) Respond
Doorways to Adventure
(1986) Respond
Doorways to Horror (1986) Respond
Elery Queen's Operation: Murder (1986) Mystery
Flash Match VCR Board Game (1986) Perception. Answer questions about quickly flashed images.
The Honeymooners VCR game (1986) Perception
Joan Rivers Predicaments VCR Game (1986) Scenes are played and you answer what you would do next. I'm not sure what happens after that.
Three Stooges VCR Game, The (1986) Respond
VCR Hockey Night in Canada (1986) Outcome
The VCR Quarterback Game (1986) Outcome


Hi HO Cherry O (1987) No idea, but I would guess Respond.
Lets Go to the Races VCR Horse Racing Game (1987) Bet on races and then watch them as they are run. Includes some mechanism that I don't understand for playing the game again even after you've seen the all the races.
VCR 221B Baker Street (1987) Mystery
VCR Basketball Game (1987) Appears to simply provide atmosphere for the game.
VCR College Bowl Game (1987) Outcome
VCR Hockey Game (1987) Outcome
VCR Top Rank Boxing Game (1987) Outcome
Winter Olympics VCR Game (1987) After watching a routine, you must pause the tape as it rapidly flashes through scores. The score you land on is your score.


Clue II VCR Mystery Game (1988) Mystery
EPYX Play Action VCR Football (1988) Outcome
Epyx VCR Golf (1988) Outcome
Isaac Asimov's Robots VCR Mystery Game (1988) Mystery
RoboCop VCR Game (1988) Respond
VCR Baseball (1988) Outcome
VCR California Games (1988) Outcome
VCR Dogfight (1988) Outcome
VCR Wrestle Mania Game, The (1988) Clock

1990 - console gaming are beginning to make VCR games (even more) irrelevant.

America's Funniest Home Videos Game (1990) Perception
Elementare Watson (1990) Trivia


Nightmare (1991) Clock. If no one wins when the time runs out, they all lose.
Nightmare II (1991) Clock


Nightmare III (1992) Clock
Rat Rap Video Board Game (1992) Clock. An annoying rat provides atmosphere and random instructions to make a dumb game more frustrating and less enjoyable
Wayne's World VCR Board Game (1992) Trivia


Dinoland (1993) Clock. Move close to the professor's piece using the clues he gives on the tape.
Dragon Strike (1993) The tape is used only for instructions and mood.
Nightmare IV (1993) Clock
Party Mania (1993) The tape is used only for instructions and mood.
Star Trek the Next Generation Interactive VCR Board Game (1993) Clock. A Klingon tries to commandeer and blow up your ship.
Video Grin 'N' Bear It (1993) The video give you tasks or dares to perform.


Atmosfear - The Harbringers (1995) . Clock. This is a continuation of the Nightmare series.
Trivial Pursuit: Star Trek Edition (1995) Trivia
Trivial Pursuit Music Master Game, The Video Version (1995) Trivia
Trivial Pursuit Video - Film and TV Edition (1995) Trivia
Trivial Pursuit Video - Sports Edition (1995) Trivia


Atmosfear - The Soul Rangers (1996) Clock
Flash Match VCR Jr. (1996) Perception
Star Wars Assault on the Death Star VCR Board Game (1996) Clock. Vader (James Earl Jones) provides the narrative and random instructions.


X-Files Trivia Game First Edition (1997) Trivia


VH1: The Pop Up Video Game (1999) When a card tells you to sing, you play the clip and must sing along.


Survivor (?) No idea
Video Bingo (?) Respond. The video does the bingo balls.
Interactive Television Cricket (?) No idea

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