Pokémon: It’s quite possibly the biggest franchise in the world, if not the most valuable. Ever since 1997, children and adults alike have been captivated by capturing creatures and facing off against their friends and foes. It’s a tried-and-true formula that has developed hundreds of favourite characters in the hearts of fans, and it makes for fantastic merchandising.
With the long-anticipated Pokémon Legends: Arceus releasing this week on the Nintendo Switch, and our Pokémon Trivia happening soon, it seemed fitting to take a short dive into the many, many Pokémon board games that exist for fans out there to play. Not only are there plenty of original board games such as Pokémon Master Trainer and Pokémon Champion Island, but there are quite a few beloved classics that got Pokémon-ified for fans that just can’t get enough of those Pocket Monsters. Let’s look at 5 classic board games that received a Pokémon version.
This is a classic game first published in 1986 by Ravensburger, and the original 80s artstyle hasn’t changed since. 2-4 players can participate in a moving maze game that has them moving the tiles in order to collect as much treasure as possible before returning to their starting position. Other players, of course, can try to impede your progress and trap you in dead ends. It’s a great competitive puzzle game that works quite well when Pokémon get added into the mix.
This edition has players collecting Pokémon instead of treasure and features Pokémon from several different generations, including the most recent Sword & Shield’s Galar region. With the most classic monsters making an appearance, this will make kid and adult Pokémon fans even more willing to brave the Labyrinth and its twisting walls.
Hedbanz is a stellar party game that can be easily adapted for kids and adults due to the flexible nature of the game. Players will each put a card containing a noun into the headband on their hand, so everyone can see it but them. They then take turns asking yes or no questions in order to guess the mystery card on top of their noggin. Younger players can start off with simple objects, while older players may try more abstract concepts, pop culture references, and 18+ subject matter. Because of this, it’s no wonder Hedbanz got a Pokémon edition, specifically during the X & Y series of games that featured Pokémon from the Kalos region. Of course, adored classics like Meowth and Pikachu also make an appearance.
If you can’t get your hands on a copy of Pokémon Hedbanz, don’t fret. Hedbanz is a game that can be played quite easily without owning a specific copy. All you need is the attaching headband and some paper to jot down (or doodle) your Pokémon (or any other subject) of choice.
Pokémon “Guess Who?”
Although it never got the official licensed “Guess Who?” name, there exists a version of the classic guessing game that features Pokémon in it. In fact, two different versions of “Guess That Pokémon” are out there, both featuring Pokémon from the Sinnoh region such as Piplup, Lucario, and Buneary. Players will choose a Pokémon for the other player to guess, then answer yes or no questions in order to narrow down who their opponent’s Pokémon must be. It’s a simple but engaging game that serves as a great icebreaker and a good way for fanatics to show off their extraordinary Pokémon knowledge.
You can rent a copy from Funny Bones online here.
The game Pachisi originated from Ancient India and is known as a cross and circle game due to how the pieces move around the board to return to their starting position. Pachisi was developed into several familiar western games over the course of history, such as Ludo, Parcheesi, and Sorry!, which was published back in 1929. The objective is to get all four of your game pieces around the board and back to their home spaces. The part that gets people apologizing is when their pieces land on the same space as yours, meaning you get sent back to your starting position.
The game’s popularity made it a great choice to combine with Pokémon, which at the time was going through Pokémania in the early 2000s. The Gold & Silver Edition of Sorry! seen above was released in 2001 and features Johto Pokémon, with the moveable pieces each being a different type of Pokémon such as Fire or Water. There hasn’t been a newer edition since then, making Pokémon Sorry! a bit of a collector’s item.
Perhaps the most famous board game out there, Monopoly was originally The Landlord’s Game, created in 1903 by Lizzie Magie to demonstrate ideas about taxation and why an economy that rewards wealth creation works better than one where monopolists are unregulated. Essentially, Magie wanted to demonstrate in the Georgist ideology that all of society should benefit from economic rent of land, and that people should own the value produced by themselves. This is why two versions of The Landlord’s Game existed, one that rewarded all players when wealth was created, and one that pitted players against each other to create a monopoly of the board. This is exactly why Monopoly is so frustrating and cutthroat to play because it warns of the dangers such monopolies bring and how it hurts society and its people overall.
Ironically, the game was redistributed (aka stolen) by one Charles Darrow in 1932 and called Monopoly, after which Parker Brothers bought both copyrights to the game from Darrow and Magie. It went on to monopolize the board game market and have a version for almost every major franchise that exists, including several different editions for Pokémon. Instead of real estate, spaces are occupied by different Pokémon and their evolutions, and Pokéballs replacing railroads. The “Gotta Catch ‘Em All!” slogan certainly fits with Monopoly’s goal of collecting everything on the board.
You can rent a copy from Funny Bones online here.