Few things have been able to drag me out of hibernation status, but one of those things is the Nerd Lunch podcast. Specifically Episode #119, in which we remember all of the awesome board games we had growing up.

I joined resident nerds CT, Jeeg, and Pax for a lengthy discussion about games we loved, games we hated (anything ending in “opoly”), and all the crazy stuff in between–licensed games, adult party games, “gimmicky mechanical bullshit” games (Operation, Perfection) and some games that probably shouldn’t even be considered board games (Cranium?) but we talked about them anyway, as well as Things You Should Never Do with the Buzzer from Taboo.

Topping my list of awesome board games is a relic from the VHS era called Nightmare: The Video Board Game. If you’ve played it, my subject line should sound pretty familiar, and hopefully not just sound like me being a dick.

Nightmare: Video Board GameImage credit: Chud.com

Nightmare, a paragon of early 90s technology, was a board game you played while watching a VHS tape, much like Clue: VCR Mystery Game I’ve written about before. Yes kids, this is what passed for innovation back in 1991!

The game’s host, a sort of ghoulish master of ceremonies, was The Gatekeeper.

Before and After: The Gatekeeper in Nightmare

Part friend, part foe, and possibly part hobo with a vaguely Scottish accent who just happened to take up permanent residence in the graveyard, he held all the keys you needed to escape and win the game. Throughout the 60 minutes of gameplay, he would pop up on the screen by yelling “STOP!” and either reward or punish you, based on where your player piece was situated on the game board. This happens seemingly at random, but of course everything is prerecorded because, you know, it’s a VHS tape.

After you’ve played the game a few times, it’s easy to predict when he’s about to appear and plan accordingly. You also had to make an ass of yourself by answering, “Yes my Gatekeeper!” whenever he would address you. This is literally written into the rules. You see kids, it’s interactive! (…to use a favorite 90’s buzzword). If you’re curious what the Nightmare tape is like, or just want to watch for unintentional comedic value (which I recommend), you can watch the full thing on YouTube.

Some of the other games I brought up on the podcast, accompanied by awesome commercial sound bytes:

  • Risk
  • Stratego
  • Clue
  • Mall Madness
  • Pizza Party <– The song that goes through my head whenever I order pizza.
  • Bumper Cars
  • Hotels
  • Scavenger Hunt
  • Bargain Hunter
  • Crossfire
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – Pizza Power!

Listen to the full Nerd Lunch – Episode #119 about board games here!