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Remembering the Nightmare Board Game

Board games can be done to pass the time in a number of ways, with their own rules to follow, number of players to have and a good time to play it. The most common time of playing was a means of getting the family together and turning off the TV, which is where most of these game nights went to. A majority of the board games we had were the usual Milton Bradley or Parker Bros. games, but during a random weekend of driving around, we came across a board game that had a fairly new kind of concept on how it was played, a game called Nightmare.

The game box

As we noticed, the package alone was very wide and not the usual square boxes we were used to seeing while the box seemed to have a slight heaviness to it. The guy we bought the box from had it taped on all sides and we decided to wait until we got home to open it.

After arriving home to a couple of dogs barking, my stepdad listening to the phone answering machine and my mom getting ready to set up dinner, My older brother and I were curious to see the contents of what was inside, and like a treasure trove of items, a handful of different things were tucked inside of some inserts.

The contents

The board game itself was a plastic fold out with a set of keys, player tokens in the shape of tombstones, a single die to roll, eight "Nightmare" cards, a "Nightmare" bag, 256 cards, a plastic coin, "fate" and "chance" cards, an instruction manual, a pencil and.... a VHS tape?

The instruction manual stated the rules simply: two players are required but can go up to six as they pick a colored tombstone of their choosing, then inserting the VHS tape after setting up the game board, they're greeted by a cloaked man named "The Gatekeeper". He then demands that each player participating grab the pencil one at a time and write their "greatest fear" and telling each player that their tombstone is labeled with a color, the calling that player's number when he interrupts the game, but will be punished if they forget to answer with "Yes, my Gatekeeper!"

Starting out

Each player takes the role of six different chosen monsters known as "Harbingers", Baron Samedi the zombie, Anne de Chantraine the witch, Gevaudan the werewolf, Khufu the mummy, Elizabeth the vampire, and Hellin the poltergeist as they race to the center of the board while collecting keys of their respective tombstone color, then stopping whenever the Gatekeeper speaks as he instructs the numbered player of his choosing on where he wants them to go, which one gets to roll the die, allowing them to get a key, or telling them which number they must roll to continue playing if they have been punished to the black hole.

When nearing the center of the board with the Nightmare logo, the player with all the keys acquired must make an exact roll, then roll a six. If you're successful, take a Nightmare card from the top of the deck, and the game ends if the card picked doesn't have the player's greatest fear it ends the game, while if it IS your greatest fear that you get, you're out of the game. However, if each player fails to win the game in the span of an hour, the Gatekeeper wins by default.

Is the game worth playing today?

Absolutely! As one of the first board games with a VHS tape to have switching rules as the game goes along, it can be a fun revisit, and even more so with friends. The Gatekeeper interrupting the players with his jump scares even fits the mood of it being a game for Halloween. And with that, one question stands to those who haven't played it. Can you escape from the "other side" and back into the real world? Or be captured by the Gatekeeper's endless Nightmare?

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Benjanime Posted on Oct 10, 2023 at 12:12 PM


You can view a VHS rip on YouTube to use ;)

RetroOtaku620 Posted on Oct 09, 2023 at 08:15 PM

Sounds like a cool game. I don't see myself playing this with my family though, my mom especially. I currently don't have a working VCR at the time of writing this, so I couldn't play a VCR board game even if I wanted to. Don't have any VCR board games anyway.

Game Joy Posted on Oct 07, 2023 at 01:18 AM

We need to get that game back, little brother! For our Halloween!

Benjanime Posted on Oct 06, 2023 at 08:34 PM

Just a heads up, if you happen to own the game and your Nightmare VHS is ruined, there's a VHS rip on YouTube.

Mr Magic Posted on Oct 06, 2023 at 05:37 PM

I remember being freaked out when the Gatekeeper kept transforming

Vaporman87 Posted on Oct 06, 2023 at 04:23 PM

This is one of those games that I wish I would have grown up owning and playing (right up there with Crossfire and Fireball Island). The theme here and the style of play are just epic.

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