Star Wars, great movie, poor board game

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Stocks may rise and fall, but one thing you can always count on is licensed Star Wars merchandise. A lot of it is good, but some of it bad, even the old stuff.

Return of the Jedi Battle of Sarlacc Pit

Some assembly required.

When Star Wars could do no wrong

I was a Star Wars kid. Everything was either GI Joe or Star Wars, and I mean everything: movies, action figures, books, posters, toys and even games. Somewhere around first grade I got the Return of the Jedi Battle at Sarlacc’s Pit board game. It was awesome…in first grade. When you’re young anything with “Star Wars” tattooed on it is cool, but sometimes a bad game is just a bad game.

Battle of Sarlacc's Pit game

And when you knock Boba Fett in, it burps.

Better looking than a half-built Death Star

However, let’s first give credit where credit is due. This game looks cool. I mean, look at it! Jabba’s sail barge is sitting on top of the Sarlacc Pit. After you assemble the cardboard pieces you’ll find you have an actual pit that angles into the Sarlacc’s mouth, and it all looks awesome. Unfortunately, you can’t say the same thing about the game pieces. Sure, you have a fine selection of Han, Luke, Leia or Chewy (no Lando?) to take and beat up Jabba’s finest goons, but they all look horrible. The pieces are molded fairly well but it looks like they were painted by Nick Fury. I know the figures are small but come on, put some effort in to it, huh? I’ve painted mini-figures before and it’s not that hard…and this is Star Wars, show some respect. Yet even with these flaws, when the whole thing is put together it looks quite impressive sitting on your table. It just begs you to come play.

Battle at Sarlacc's Pit game

Wait, wasn't Leia wearing a slave girl outfit on Jabba's sail barge?

Less fun than a bacta tank

The game might get lots of style points but when it comes to game play, it fails worse than a ton-ton past the first marker. Playing the Sarlacc Pit game involves little more than moving your pieces next to each Gammorean guard and knocking them off the side into the pit. I know that sounds kind of cool, but there is absolutely no challenge or skill required to do so, and there’s barely any luck. You draw a card, move a few spaces and knock over the bad guy. There’s no way to really fail and that’s never a good thing. And before you start saying that I’m not analyzing this as a kid, think again, because I was a kid with this game and even back then it got boring because there was no challenge. You pretty much knew how the game was going to end before you even started. Even though the game manual makes the game sound quite complicated and interesting, it’s all just a Jedi mind trick.

The Sarlacc Pit game quickly became less of a board game and more of a Star Wars play set. Without any interesting rules, I would get out this game just to play with it like I would with any other toy. I would use my own action figures and vehicles, and it was a lot of fun. I don’t need rules or playing cards to have fun knocking Boba Fett, Nikto and Jabba into the Sarlacc Pit. Oh, and you might notice that Jabba is conspicuous by his absence in my photos. That’s because the Jabba game piece probably ended up being part of other action figure adventures, especially since I wasn’t lucky enough to have the actual Jabba play set.

Battle at Sarlacc's Pit Game

Looks aren't everything, even a galaxy far, far away.

Yoda couldn’t even save this game

You wouldn’t think that playing on Jabba’s sail barge would ever be boring, but that’s what you get in the case of the Sarlacc Pit board game. This is just another example of something mediocre being disguised by the Star Wars name. The problem is, this game came out in 1983 along with the movie, well before Star Wars branched out into television, cartoons and home video games. I don’t think I’m alone when I say that I’m tired of all the Star Wars stuff out on the shelves right now, most of it just trying to cash in on the franchise, but this game proves this was always the case.

It’s easy to complain and talk about how good things were “back in the day” but not everything was better, even if it was something we loved like Star Wars. I wrote recently about some board games being nothing but a gimmick, all flash and no substance, and the Battle at Sarlacc’s Pit game is a perfect example, but even then it’s really cool to admire…and hey, it’s still Star Wars.

Check out more photos of this game and other toys on Flickr

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About Author

Brian is a staff writer at TMA. He races Hot Wheels at RedlineDerby.com while watching cartoons with his kid. You can follow @morningtoast on Twitter.

3 Comments

  1. I have some Star Wars Mad Libs, I use them on my podcast. And last time I was in Sonoma-Williams they had a slew of Star Wars cooking stuff. Cookbooks, aprons, toothpicks…although I have to admit that I did buy the Darth Vader spatula. It was too unique to pass up.

  2. Read your review right after seeing Star Wars Mad Libs books and Star Wars Recipe books (two volumes!) at in the gift shop at Seattle’s Sci-Fi Museum. They just can’t stop with the Star Wars!

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