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Board Games Make a Comeback


Yakyu Ban DX, which was released in 2005 with new features. ((c) EPOCH CO., LTD.)

Board games that were big hits in the age before video games became mainstream are experiencing a resurgence in popularity. Among these games, which groups of family and friends enjoy playing together, are Yakyu Ban (Baseball Board) and Jinsei Game (The Game of Life).

According to one toy company representative, "Fathers are nostalgic for the games that they loved playing when they were kids. And for kids who have grown up playing video games, these board games are a breath of fresh air."

Yakyu Ban (sold by Epoch Co.) was created in 1958. Its popularity exploded with the addition of the kieru makyu (disappearing magic ball) function in 1972. In this board game, a baseball is thrown and hit using spring mechanisms, and homeruns, hits, and outs are determined by which hole the ball falls into. The game gives fathers a great chance to win against their children, whom they have no hope of competing with when it comes to video games.

JinseiGame (sold by Takara Co.) is a board game that was released in Japan in 1968 and is modeled after the American game, The Game of Life. In this game, players pass through such milestones as finding a job and getting married in order to achieve their life dreams. The Japanese version of the game has developed its own original style, with its themes and grid instructions changing again and again to reflect events and booms in Japan as they happened. Ten million copies of the game have been sold to date, and there have even been Hello Kitty and Doraemon versions, as well as a version featuring popular comedians.

Another popular action game is Kuro-hige Kiki Ippatsu (Dangerous Exploding Black Beard Pirate), created by Tomy, in which plastic daggers are inserted into holes in a barrel, with the winner being whoever makes the pirate character inside the barrel pop up. Children often make this game even more fun by playing with the rule in reverse, so that whoever makes the pirate pop up is the loser.

Unlike video games, in which the player interacts mainly with a TV screen, board games promote face-to-face communication among family and friends. Perhaps the real reason for the resurging popularity of these games is that they offer a taste of a more relaxed, analog time. What games are popular right now in your country? Why not e-mail us at this address and tell us:

(Updated in February 2006)