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Kate Erbland
Kate Erbland

20 Board Games Based on ’70s and ’80s TV Shows

Kate Erbland
Kate Erbland

Better than trading cards, less useful than a lunchbox, and perfect for weekend collecting, there are a staggering number of board games based on classic television shows from the ‘70s and ‘80s still knocking around. Here are 20 of the very best. 

1. Happy Days

An almost totally Fonzie-focused endeavor, the entire aim of the Happy Days game is to collect enough “cool points” to impress the Fonz. Along the way, points are tallied by lighting up Arnold’s jukebox and time passes by finding “sumthin’ to do.”

2. Cheers

How’s your Cheers knowledge pool? Not too deep? Don’t worry, you can almost wing it with this trivia-based game—if you pay enough attention to hints about how the various bar occupants acted on the show, which pepper gameplay. Watch out for “Normie’s Olympics,” though, a mini-game that uses the sort of skills that only a drunk dude could master (it involves both balance and total carelessness).

3. Barney Miller

The Barney Miller board game has a few surprises up its cardboard sleeves—no one gets to play the eponymous cop and it’s essentially a bettor’s version of the match game. Is this how cops actually do their job? Perhaps—at least on television.

4. Knight Rider

This “high speed adventure game” doesn’t come with a tiny David Hasselhoff cutout, but it does require players to travel an admittedly “never-ending road” without getting hijacked. Clear “Trouble Spots” and hope that your robot car doesn’t get stolen—something you’d think K.I.T.T. would be far too clever to allow anyway.

5. The Fall Guy

A shockingly simple spin on the classic television show that asks players to accomplish exactly what star Lee Majors did in the popular series—complete dangerous movie stunts and capture bail jumpers. Sadly, the box doesn’t play the Majors-trilled theme song upon opening, but that doesn’t mean you can’t bust out with your own version.

6. The A Team

We pity the fool who doesn’t feel instantly compelled to play the board game version of The A Team once they hear what it’s about. Curiously focused on a mission to retrieve a stolen soda recipe from an evil band of apparently very weird baddies, the goofy action of the classic show is in full effect in this one-dimensional quest.

7. Welcome Back, Kotter

Intent on capitalizing on its trademark “up your nose with a rubber hose” tagline, the Welcome Back, Kotter game is entirely centered on said hose. The aim of the game is to use cards to spell out the entire phrase, and the “winner” ultimately gets a small piece of, you guessed it, rubber hose to celebrate their victory.

8. CHiPS

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It would be pretty unsafe to attempt to replicate the highway hijinks of CHiPS the show, so this board game will have to suffice. Each player takes on the role of a motorcycle cop, bound for the sort of glory that will only come after capturing no less than four vehicular baddies and sticking to the rules of the road. And, no, the speeding criminals don’t need to obey any traffic laws, leading to some seriously rough road ahead.

9. The Bionic Woman

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Aimed at the younger set, The Bionic Woman game is relatively straightforward—cards dole out assignments and points, dice rolls determine board movement. There are no bionic limb-shaped game pieces and the board design is weirdly reminiscent of “Candy Land.” Perfect for the Lindsay Wagner-obsessed child in your life.

10. Alf

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Sticking charmingly close to the dramas of the original show (yes, there were dramas in a show about a foul-mouthed alien), the Alf board game sees players taking on the mantle of the furry beast from Melmac and moving through the Tanner house, all in pursuit of a tasty feline treat. Running from the ALFs and their hungry bellies? Cat owner Mrs. Ochmonek, desperate to keep kitty Lucky from being, well, not so lucky.

11. Columbo

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A surefire disappointment for fans of the curmudgeonly detective, Milton Bradley simply repurposed and repackaged their “Why” game to suit the television show. Fans of Alfred Hitchcock should be pleased with the game, though, as the murder mystery “Why” was originally branded as his own brainchild.

12. Family Ties

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Casting players as one of the beloved Keaton clan is a classy move—and smart enough to ensure that no one flips out at the complicated game play. The aim is to gather one hundred bucks and for every member of the family (not you, Skippy!) to sit for a family portrait. It’s not easy, what with all the Keatons constantly flitting off in different directions, but if you can get all the Keaton family pawns together at once, the result could just be picture perfect.

13. Charlie’s Angels

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Requiring teamwork to conclude, the Charlie’s Angels board game not only provides valuable life lessons, but it also draws upon some of the big themes of the show. Charlie dispatches his three beauties to take down a baddie, and all must use their own skills and work together to effectively trap a villain. It looks good!

14. The Six Million Dollar Man

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An inventive spin on the show, The Six Million Dollar Man game casts all its players as the powerful Steve Austin—sort of. The point of the game is to prove, by way of handily accomplished assignments that increase your strength, that you're the real Six Million Dollar Man. Or at least the player to navigate around the board first.

15. All in the Family

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A great way to bring your family closer together—or rip them irrevocably apart—the All in the Family board game requires one player to read off queries from the provided answer book, with everyone else answering via written response, leading to a guessing match as to who said what. For fun, “responses” from Archie and Edith are included, and players can guess about those, too. Learn about how different you are from the rest of your family with one handy game!

16. Archie Bunker’s Card Game

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If you are an All in the Family fan who doesn’t want to start World War III with a simple board game, Archie Bunker’s Card Game offers up some more relaxed entertainment. A complicated combination of suits, tricks, and even a “Ding Bat Tally” wheel, it’s fun for (most of?) the whole family!

17. The Dukes of Hazzard

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Hopefully no one will be shocked to learn that The Dukes of Hazzard board game is a wild road race that asks players to decide between going the safe way (the highway) or tearing it up on backcountry roads. Players can throw some wrenches into the plans of their competitors by way of roadblocks and bumper slams. Sure, it’s not safe, but it is just a game.

18. Kojak

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A classic “roll and move” game sets players up as competing detectives, all bent on making the most criminal collars of four big cases. Relatively simple, sure, but few other games could make “move your car into the correct car park for a surveillance operation” sound quite so fun.

19. Fantasy Island

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While a tiny plane is not included, the Fantasy Island game comes packed with various fantasies (obviously) for players to indulge in. Of course, those fantasies don’t always play out in the most pleasurable of manners, but if you can collect enough kisses, adventures, and cash and get to the main house first, you can win (at least for that week and until another batch of clients hit the beach).

20. Mork & Mindy

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Amusingly styled as an Orkan game, the Mork & Mindy game is packed with all sorts of fun alien words and rules. Sure, it may seem a bit “out of this world” (tee hee) at first, but it’s really just a classic dice rolling game with funny rules to gussy it up.

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UsTwo
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This Augmented-Reality App Makes the Hospital Experience Less Scary for Kids
UsTwo
UsTwo

Staying in a hospital can be a scary experience for kids, but a little distraction can make it less stressful. According to studies conducted by Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool, UK, distracted patients have an easier time with their appointments and require less pain medication. Now, Co.Design reports that the hospital is releasing its own app designed to keep children entertained—and calm—from the moment they check in.

The Android and iOS app, called Alder Play, was designed by ustwo, the makers of the wildly popular smartphone game Monument Valley and the stress relief tool Pause. Patients can download the app before they arrive at the hospital, choosing a virtual animal buddy to guide them through their stay. Then, once they check into the hospital, their furry companion shows them around the facility using augmented-reality technology.

The app features plenty of fun scavenger hunts and other games for kids to play during their downtime, but its most important features are designed to coach young patients through treatments. Short videos walk them through procedures like blood tests so that when the time comes, the situation will feel less intimidating. And for each step in the hospitalization process, from body scans to gown changes, doctors can give kids virtual stickers to reward them for following directions or just being brave. There’s also an AI chatbot (powered by IBM’s Watson) available to answer any questions kids or their parents might have about the hospital.

The app is very new, and Alder Hey is still assessing whether or not it's changing their young hospital guests’ experiences for the better. If the game is successful, children's hospitals around the world may consider developing exclusive apps of their own.

[h/t Co.Design]

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Cell Free Technology
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This Pixel Kit Will Let You Play Tetris With Jellyfish DNA
Cell Free Technology
Cell Free Technology

Forget playing Tetris on your phone. Now you can play it with jellyfish DNA. Bixels is a DIY game kit that lets you code your own games using synthetic biology, lighting up a digital display with the help of DNA.

Its 8-by-8 pixel grid is programmed to turn on with the help of the same protein that makes jellyfish glow, called green fluorescent protein (GFP). But you can program it to do more than just passively shine. You can use your phone and the associated app to excite Bixels' fluorescent proteins and make them glow at different frequencies, producing red, blue, and green colors. Essentially, you can program it like you would any computer, but instead of electronics powering the system, it's DNA.

Two blue boxes hold Bixel pixel grids.

Researchers use green fluorescent protein all the time in lab experiments as an imaging agent to illuminate biological processes for study. With Bixels, all you need is a little programming to turn the colorful lights (tubes filled with GFP) into custom images or interactive games like Tetris or Snake. You can also use it to develop your own scientific experiments. (For experiment ideas, Bixels' creator, the Irish company Cell-Free Technology, suggests the curricula from BioBuilder.)

A screenshot shows a user assembling a Bixel kit on video.

A pixel kit is housed in a cardboard box that looks like a Game Boy.

Bixels is designed to be used by people with all levels of scientific knowledge, helping make the world of biotechnology more accessible to the public. Eventually, Cell-Free Technology wants to create a bio-computer even more advanced than Bixels. "Our ultimate goal is to build a personal bio-computer which, unlike current wearable devices, truly interacts with our bodies," co-founder Helene Steiner said in a press release.

Bixels - Play tetris with DNA from Cell-Free Technology on Vimeo.

You can buy your own Bixel kit on Kickstarter for roughly $118. It's expected to ship in May 2018.

All images courtesy Cell-Free Technology

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