back to the future

Back to the Future: Dice Through Time Review

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Publisher: Ravensburger
Age: 10+
Players: 2-4
Game Length: 45-60 minutes
MSRP: $29.99

As far as classic 80s franchises go, none may be as sacred and universally beloved as the Back to the Future trilogy. The adventurous time-traveling series remains mercifully untouched by modern adaptations, but that doesn’t mean we don’t deserve a proper modern board game – or two!

Back to the Future: Dice Through Time (not to be confused with Back to the Future: Back in Time, another cooperative BTTF board game that released this year), continues Ravensburger’s trend of turning popular film franchises into satisfying, family-friendly tabletop experiences.

88 Miles Per Hour

In Dice Through Time, that pesky villain Biff has run amok in the time-stream, causing major events, timelines, and items from all three films to become mixed up. It’s up to the players to travel through four different time periods, fixing events and returning items, to restore the space-time continuum.

Up to four players play as different versions of the Doc and Marty time-traveling crew, with their own color-coordinated DeLorean mover, player mat, and action dice. The game board resembles a calendar with four time periods (1885, 1855, 1985, and 2015), each with five familiar locations, such as Marty’s House and Hill Valley High School.

Players take turns drawing event cards that represent scenes from all three films, such as Doc inventing the flux capacitor in 1955, Marty skateboarding to school in 1985, and the showdown with Mad Dog Tannen in 1885. Events are placed in their appropriate location, with each requiring certain dice actions to complete.

Players then roll their dice to move around the board and complete events. An arrow can be used to move anywhere along a time line, whereas you’ll need to roll a flux capacitor to time-travel to any time period, arriving at the same location. Leave too many lingering events uncompleted and they’ll add to the “OUTATIME” meter, eventually leading to a game over.

Completing events awards a lost item, such as Marty’s Guitar. Items will need to be returned to different locations and time periods. Players will need to return all the lost items from each time period to win.

We Don’t Need Roads

Dice Through time includes multiple difficulty levels by scaling the number of lost items that need to be returned. A standard game includes three items from each time period, whereas things get harder, and significantly longer, when all five are used.

Likewise more players equals more event cards, and the increasing possibility that players will run into each other and advance the game over meter – a fun nod to the danger of running into yourself from Back to the Future 2.

As a cooperative game, players are encouraged to work together to travel around the board and complete as many events as possible. Players can also help each other by rippling dice – storing dice actions in one location so they can be used on other players in the same spot, or in future time periods – another neat element that emphasizes the time-traveling theme.

Unfortunately Dice Through Time lacks any kind of asymmetry for the players. There are no unique player powers; everyone rolls their version of the same four dice. While it does use the source material well, the board game doesn’t feature any actual still shots from the film, instead relying on comic-like illustrations for the 70+ event cards.

Dice Through Time is also one of the easier co-op games I’ve played, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. We never lost a single game on standard difficulty, for example. Harder difficulties focus more on making the game longer rather than adding any new complications or depth.

The Rating

Dice Through Time has a recommended age rating of 10+. Reading is minimal (or even optional) as players draw cards, match the location, and roll dice. Light strategy is required to plan a turn that can involve moving, completing actions, turning in items, and storing dice for future turns or other players.

The Takeaway

Back to the Future: Dice Through Time is easy to teach, easy to play, and fairly easy to win. The game doesn’t try to re-create any of the original movies. Instead it crafts a competent co-op experience from the time-traveling theme and iconic locations, creating a cooperative tabletop experience worthy of the classic movies.

Find Back to the Future: Dice Through Time exclusively at Target.

jungle cruise board game

Disney Jungle Cruise Adventure Game Review

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Publisher: Ravensburger
Age: 8+
Players: 2-4
Game Length: 45-60 minutes
MSRP: $29.99

While the upcoming Jungle Cruise feature film has been delayed due to the pandemic, Ravensburger has produced a kid-friendly board game inspired by the endearingly cheesy Disneyland attraction. The Disney Jungle Cruise Adventure Game features easy gameplay and low interactivity, making it a great family game.

Welcome to the Jungle

In the Jungle Cruise Adventure Game, each player captains their own riverboat down a perilous river filled with hazards. Players start with a unique skipper specialty and 12 passenger tokens they can place on their personal, oversize boat.

Throughout the game, players roll a dice to move along the river path on the game board, drawing cards as they encounter various jungle events. These hazards and scenes are lifted directly from the park attraction, with monkeys ransacking a campsite, a rhino chasing an explorer up a pole, and the passengers witnessing the mystical backside of a waterfall.

You don’t need to have been on the actual ride to appreciate the context, but the extremely corny jokes on the cards capture the tone of the original ride perfectly.

jungle cruise board game cards

Each navigation card has a danger rating from one to three, and a section of the boat that’s being targeted. Players roll dice to see how many (if any) of their passengers or cargo they lose, while getting a chance to pick up additional passengers or cargo along the way. At the end of the game, players score points based on cargo sets and passenger families that remain on the boat.

Backside of Water

Gameplay mostly boils down to rolling dice to move your boat, and rolling dice to try and avoid losing passengers. Thankfully there is some light strategy in how each player organizes their boat, and which card hazards they choose to encounter.

At the beginning of each turn, players can freely organize the passengers and cargo on their boat. The middle area is generally safe from danger, and a great place to hold full cargo sets or more valuable passengers. I found it worked well to leave one end of the boat completely empty, thereby avoiding any hazards that targeted that side of the boat.

There’s also an interesting scoring system when it comes to the passengers. Each passenger belongs to four different families, though some passengers can belong to two families due to marriage. Each game, one of the families is secretly chosen as the winners of the cruise line, and worth more points at the end.

Throughout the river journey, players can choose to take longer paths to gradually reveal which families aren’t the bonus winners, making it fun to pay attention to the players’ who learn that information, and which passengers they value.

The only form of real player interaction comes from racing down the river. The first player to reach the end of the river collects bonus points, and so on until all players reach the end (or the bonus point tokens are depleted). Otherwise players don’t directly interact with each other at all during the game, though you can end up with another boat’s passengers by finding any who were previously lost in the jungle.

jungle cruise board game pic

The Rating

Despite the theme of a dangerous jungle cruise, this is a very kid-friendly experience – just like the park ride. Passengers become lost in the jungle, and can be rescued again by anyone. The level of strategy is very light, and gameplay mostly comes down to rolling dice, making it easy for kids.

The Takeaway

Disney Jungle Cruise Adventure Game sits comfortably between a mind-numbing younger kids’ game and a full-on beginner strategy game. The components are extremely high quality, with colorful boat markers, fun character art for the passengers, and punny jokes on all the cards. There are far more engaging games for adults, but for families with kids ready to graduate to something a bit meatier, it’s time for a riverboat adventure.

Find Disney Jungle Cruise Adventure Game at Amazon and other retailers.

Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition Review

Posted by | Reviews, Switch | No Comments

Available On: Switch

Xenoblade Chronicles released in 2012 in North America on the Nintendo Wiii, infusing elements of MMO gameplay into a unique sci-fi fantasy world of titanic creatures, robotic invaders, and mystical swords. Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition is a fantastic port for the Switch, providing the same great gameplay and classic JRPG storytelling with a much-need graphical face-lift.

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Age of Wonders: Planetfall Invasions Review

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Available On: PC (Steam)

Invasions is the second DLC for last year’s excellent sci-fi strategy game Age of Wonders: Planetfall, and the first to add a playable new faction. The Shakarn come equipped with fun new stealth abilities along with a mini-campaign that showcases their skills as expert manipulators. Invasions also adds a new NPC faction, new world events, and a new late-game challenge in the form of the titular invasions.

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dungeon defenders

Dungeon Defenders: Awakened Review

Posted by | PC, Reviews | No Comments

Available On: PC (Steam), coming later to Switch (Q3 2020), PlayStation 4 and Xbox One (Q4 2020)

What is the difference between a new game and a remake? Despite being labeled as an all-new game in the tower-defense series, Dungeon Defenders: Awakened is clearly a remake of the original 2010 game.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as the original Dungeon Defenders effectively combined tower defense gameplay with co-op action. The formula remains as fun as it was a decade ago, though it’s disappointing to see so little improvement or changes.

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