lovehate: 5 Retro Games I'd Rather Play Than Video Games

I have some friends who love console gaming, and I have to admit there was a period in time where I thought such pursuits were cool. I first owned the Hanimex system which morphed into Leisurevision; both were essentially cheap rip-offs of the Intellivision system which outdistanced the Atari 2600 for playability at the time. The PacMan clone on the Leisurevision system was lightyears ahead of the 2600. I eventually evolved to Colecovision and the cutting edge graphics carried me well into my Commodore 64 days. All this said, I don't think any of the games had the replay value of some of the board games I grew up with. I wish I had some of these around the house right now... of course then I wouldn't be writing.

Rebound kicked the llama's ass! How cool was it that with a plastic disc, some ball bearings, a piece of molded plastic and two elastics, one could have hours of fun. Kind of like the mini version of shuffleboard or crokinole, Rebound provided awesome replay value even in single player mode. I can't speak much to the fight mechanic except for the time I punched my friend in the nads for knocking out three of my pieces with his last shot. He didn't even try to fight back; must've been a "special" attack.

Here's the thing about Mousetrap. I owned this for years growing up and remember having a blast with it. The thing is, I don't know I ever actually played the game. The Rube Goldberg aspect alone was enough to keep me fascinated. I mean c'mon - it's a bowling ball in a bathtub! I don't know about polygons and refresh rates, but I do know how to build the coolest mousetrap in the world - if a mouse ever gets into the house, I'll need to visit the lumber yard.

Okay, I'll accept that the single player mode of Rock'em Sock'em Robots was pretty lame, but here's a game where the aforementioned fight mechanic shone. Who could resist fighting robots in glorious plastic opulence? We used to have to tape the ring down to the table due to our abuse of the light plastic form. This was an experience not be missed. It was also one of those games whereby 2 out of 3s rapidly became 4 out of 7s and eventually we lost count. We even created modifications whereby you got extra points for winner while throwing the fewest punches. At age 8 we were precision training to strike death blows on future Terminators after Skynet took control.

Again, a game where single-player mode was just as cool as head-to-head. Kerplunk required foresight, precision, planning and benefited the experienced player. It's a game where one could start to actually see patterns in the stack of marbles as they teetered on the point of collapse. Kerplunk became a metaphor for the tenuous nature of young boy's childhood during post-war Vietnam and the impending evolution of disco... but seriously - Kerplunk was also cool because you could always find replacements for any lost pieces. Marbles were never hard to find and you could always use kebab sticks if the fancy-colored plastic ones disappeared under the couch.

Alright! I'm Canadian. Deal with it! Some called it "rod hockey". Some called it "table hockey". No matter what you called it, I called it one of the greatest games ever. The magnetic seizure-inspiring vibrating football was pretty useless. The table baseball games were uninspired at best. I do have to give it up for Foosball which is great in its own right, but spinning a plastic Bobby Orr, dropping a plastic puck through a fake scoreboard for a faceoff, or slamming down on the goal light in frustration to pop the puck back out of the net are memories I'll never forget. If there's one thing I often consider buying a couple of decades later, it's one of the full-size arcade versions of this classic. I dropped many a quarter later in life on high school lunch hours at the local mall arcade. I'll take this over any video game at any time.

So there it is. I have not bought a video game console much less a board game in years, but there's something to be said in replayability, boss battles that involved going up against friends' skills instead of jacked up animated freaks, powerups that involved running to the kitchen for a couple Oreos and a glass of chocolate milk, and cut scenes that involved everyone getting called home for dinner.