A copy of the Blockbuster video game was supplied by Big Potato Games for review.
I have fond memories of heading to the local Blockbuster store on the corner of South Clerk Street and Bernard Terrace in Edinburgh. To a film nerd like myself they were churches of unseen treasures, future loves, and fond memories. With the rise of digital consumption it was inevitable that Blockbuster, much like HMV who I worked for, would crumble. What wasn’t predictable was that Big Potato Games would release a Blockbuster inspired party game, but they did.
Make it a Blockbuster Night
I really like Big Potato Games, a company that eschews the usual route of appealing to hardcore gamers and instead produce quirky, party focused games that would look equally at home on the shelves of your local Tesco as well as your friendly local games store. Scrawl(AL) is a favourite of all of us at The Giant Brain a game that is a hilarious mix of telephone and pictionary and we hoped that we would enjoy Blockbuster just as much.
Big Potato Games really know how to package a game. Alongside the clapperboard and popcorn that came with the game for reviewers (thanks folks), the product is a total nostalgia fest. For those young enough not to recognise it, this game comes in a VHS case. The simple board is made up like an American style parking lot. Nestled alongside the cards is our final component. A timer. A beautiful, terrible timer.
Taking your position in a team, you start a round of Blockbuster by going head-to-head with someone on the rival team. A subject is dealt like Movies that have been remade or Movies based on a book. You think of a Movie that fits the criteria. You hit the buzzer, starting a 15 second timer. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. It’s loud. It’s hard to concentrate. Your rival is under pressure. They must come up with another movie that matches the subject before the timer runs out. They do! They hit the buzzer passing the hot potato back to you. Suddenly you realise that thinking of answers under pressure is extremely difficult! It’s tense, you’ll forget everything you ever knew about films. You’ll will your team mate to find the right answer with the power of your mind! The team that fails to come up with a movie in time loses and passes control of the next round to their rivals.
Round 2 sees the parking lot finally come into play. We draw 6 cards from the other deck in the game, all film titles split up by genre. Choosing 3 of these we place them in the 3 spaces available to us One Word, Quote it, Act it. The remaining three are unceremoniously dumped on the opposing team to do the same with.
With 30 seconds on the clock, a long press on the buzzer sets it to a longer slower count, you try to get your team to guess the 3 films on your side of the board by:
One Word: describe the film using only a single word.
Quote it: Quote something from the film.
Act it: get your charades on
If you are quick enough and get all yours done you can go and try out some of your rivals’. Any of the films that are guessed successfully are scored and the first team to get 1 film in each of the 8 categories is the winner.
Be Kind, Rewind
We’ve had a ton of fun with the Blockbuster game. Having to think under a timer really puts the pressure on your memory leaving you struggling to recall something as simple as a film that might fit into the category Movie with Ghosts. The second phase is equally as hilarious with much confusion as a friend points at a card and says ‘Antarctic’ (The Thing), quotes poorly from Star Wars or acts out driving over a cliff.
We did feel that the game dragged just a little. Only getting 6 cards every round means it takes a little longer than I would like to get to the 8 you need. However one of the joys of a game like this is that it can be easily house ruled and we found that drawing 9 gave you just a little bit more choice, even if you lost the head-to-head.
The game is very generous with what it allows, meaning that you can make up quotes or just use the title of the film if it is One Word in that particular category. It’s great that it accommodates players with all sorts of film knowledge. We recommend using the Extra rules that prevent you using words that appear in the title and that you can’t spaff sequels back and forth in the head-to-head.
These minor concerns aside, Blockbuster is a great party game that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed playing. From the presentation to execution it really does hit me right in the nostalgia. Big Potato are constantly putting out new and interesting projects and if you are looking for a good party game then put aside the Cards Against Humanity and pick up your membership card instead.