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My Favorite Board Games Growing Up In the 90s

When I think of summer, I tend to think of things like sunny days, sand on the beach, and hot, muggy afternoons.  Unfortunately, sometimes old Mother Nature has other plans and it rains.  Sometimes it downright pours.  

Oddly enough, I loved rainy summer days when I was a kid.  On most days when it would rain, my Brother and I would roll into Gramp's and Granny's house next door to kill time.

Granny and Gramps often had the air conditioner running when we got there.  My parents never used their AC, so it was just pleasant walking into the cold air.  The chilly air blasting from the air conditioner, the carpeted living room floor, and the big TV right by the front door made for a great little retreat to play in for us kids on a hot, humid, rainy summer day.  

When we got a little older, my Brother and I would hang out at home by ourselves for most of the day.  We'd always head for the television and watch MTV and VH1 for music videos so my Brother could play disc jockey for the whole neighborhood.  Seriously... he'd open the windows and crank the TV as loud as he could.  When I got to watch a non-music-related program, he'd go upstairs, put his radio in the window (facing out, of course), and blast his songs of choice to the whole block.  Who could forget his "Thunder Rolls" era where that Garth Brooks little diddy was played on a loop ad nauseam?

It was on one of these days where we also discovered Pro Beach Hockey, which you can read about HERE.  

When he wasn't entertaining the neighbors with his musical selection, my Brother got really into playing the original DOOM on our computer.  I'd pull up a chair and watch him march right through the entire game in one sitting.  The trick was to make it look like we didn't just spend 8 straight hours at the computer when our parents got home from work.  Sitting next to him while he played DOOM was much better than when he played Nintendo.  I'd be banished from the living room or forced to sit facing the corner because otherwise, I was considered "bad luck."  

One of the ways I often entertained myself was to play some of the board games we kept in the closet by myself.  

I know, I know... most board games are played between two or more people, but more often than not, I was playing by myself out of necessity.  It's kind of hard to play against yourself, but I frequently looked at it like it was just taking extra turns.  Occasionally, if it was a weekend or evening, Mom or Dad would play with me, but my Brother never liked playing board games.  Or at least playing them with me, anyway.  

Board games were fun, even if I did have to play alone.  My wife and I still play them occasionally, most recently the Pan Am or Rear Window games from Funko.  Check it out with this Amazon affiliate link; if you're interested, click HERE.

Reflecting upon board games of the past, I figured we could all enjoy another stroll down memory lane as we make another entry into the YesterYear Summer of '22.  Let's look back at the 5 board games I played the most while growing up in the 90s! 

1.  13 Dead End Drive

Let's start off with a good one!  The story of this game revolves around the death of a wealthy old woman that triggers a feud over her estate.  Players utilize traps around the game board to kill off other characters controlled by others to claim the estate and win the game.  

The traps were the best part of the game when I played alone.  Often, I'd forgo the game rules (kind of a must-do when you try to hide things from yourself) and eventually just use my action figures on the various traps around the board.  This abmazing game comes with a great series of commercials that feature high-quality puppets of the game's characters roaming around the 13 Dead End Drive Mansion.  The Chef, Smothers the butler, Spritzy the hair stylist, and more fall victim to several of the game's traps brought to life in these great series of commercials.  

Check it out below!

2.  Monopoly

This game needs no introduction because I'm sure nearly everyone reading this has played Monopoly at one point.  Obviously, it's not a game from the 90s, but it's definitely one that I played quite a bit.  My Brother occasionally played this with me, but more often than not, it was just me begging Mom or Dad to play with me.  I was always the race car and would only play a few rounds around the game board before I got bored and gave up.  

My household definitely subscribed to the "Free Parking means you collect the money" rule!

3.  Saved by the Bell

During the 90s, like most kids, I was a big fan of Saved by the Bell, as documented on this site HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE.  I begged and begged my Mom to buy this game for me at Caldors, and on one shopping trip, she finally relented.  Even though this game targeted girls, I played it quite a bit.  The game cards would frequently mention the "cute guy" in class or winning the date with Zack... but unfortunately never mentioned winning a date with every guy's first crush Kelly Kapowski.  

My friends from school all loved Saved by the Bell too.  Regardless of the fact we were all boys, we still loved playing this game.  We would just switch Zack for Kelly, Slater for Jessie, and Screech for Lisa to make it a little less "girly."  I brought it to school a few times in my backpack, but I mostly spent all day making sure that I didn't lose any of the pieces or that the kid who stole my Wolverine figure (and several other things) didn't take it.  When my friend Joe slept over a few times, we'd stay up late playing the game and sneaking into the living room to watch late-night reruns of SBTB on TBS.   

4.  Weapons and Warriors

Weapons and Warriors was a 1990s Milton Bradley game that was a copycat version of the Crossbows and Catapults game from the 80s.  It's hard to call this a board game, but it's definitely a tabletop game since it frequently covered our entire dining room table for weeks at a time.  

This is definitely a game I'd like to find an unopened new copy of.  I used the original so much that the box fell apart and it was kept in a taped-up GLADE garbage bag box from Costco.  Eventually, I didn't play the game for a while and tossed it like I unfortunately did so many of my childhood things during college.  I always assumed this was just some dollar store game that Mom picked up to keep me occupied, but I later found out that it has quite a fan following.  I remember she bought it for me at some junk store in Nanuet when I was in middle school.  I brought it home and immediately started playing... By myself.  It was raining that day, too, making it perfect for playing an indoor game.  My Dad and I enjoyed spending quite a bit of time playing the game over and over again, knocking over each other's castles and soldiers.  

Weapons and Warriors may have been clunky and loud, and the rubber bands may have frequently burst mid-game, but it was a fun game that I remember fondly playing with my Dad.

5.  The Game of Life

Life was always the game I'd pick when it was my turn to choose on the rare occasion I'd play with some of the neighborhood kids or friends from school.  I loved how you could pick a car, a family, a job, a house... everything!  It was like "The Sims" before computers! 

I have a strong association with Life with my Grandparent's back porch.  It was really the back room of their house but, while I was young, was more of an un-insulated three-season room.  I loved that room.  I looked forward to helping Grandpa get the bright blue carpet rolled out every spring.  We'd get the furniture set up, which, to be honest, I think was just lawn furniture.  They had a wood-framed love seat with red striped outdoor seat cushions.  In my mind, I can almost feel the waffle pattern of the plastic outer layer on my fingertips.  To its right sat a white metal gliding rocker with a canary yellow cushion with blue pinstripes.  Across the room was their big round white table and matching chairs.  

We'd eat lunch at that table, which was usually one of Granny's grilled cheese sandwiches.  Gramps would wheel the "kitchen TV" into the doorway on a rolling cart so we could watch Price is Right and their mid-day news on NBC while we enjoyed the cool breeze through the giant, screened windows.  If we were running late that day, Grandma and I would sit and watch the start of Days of Our Lives before moving out to the living room during a commercial break.  

How does this relate to board games and Life?  When we weren't eating lunch at that table, I was there frequently rounding the Life game board with my little orange car and growing family as I tried to earn a promising career and big house before reaching the end of the game.  It was there I'd spend summer afternoons watching the New York Mets games on WPIX 11.  It was there at that table that I'd watch WCW Saturday Night when Mom and Dad didn't let me watch wrestling at home.

Their back porch and that big table was something I hadn't thought of in years.  That is, until I began reminiscing about board games... and that is precisely what nostalgia blogging is all about, my friends.