As Jake Salvage, I have been in my share of musty garages and musty thrift stores searching for… well, salvage (I do my best to un-mustify it, fyi). I look for video games, movies, books, board games and any number of nerd things to release back in to the wilderness of collectors and fans. But every once in a while, there is an artifact I come across that is so odd and noteworthy, I have to write an article about it. Here is my latest Artifact-icle!
Board games, much like other hobbies, have become more streamlined as the audience has become more sophisticated. Gone is the marketing push to encourage families to have a “game night” where your mother holds the rule book close like a secret tome, waiting for the moment to shout the “You can’t move there!” incantation and point at the section in her spell book you were not privy to, while your father crushes you and your siblings to a fine powder as his domain across the board spreads like wildfire, making everyone simultaneously wish smartphones were a thing as they stare into their hands, and quietly understand what Oedipus was getting at (minus the mom-boning.)
But nowhere is it more evident that there was such an era than in the thrift stores and garage sales across the country, where “family-oriented” board games sit, unwanted, waiting for the right amount of nostalgia and/or curiosity to facilitate their escape. I am sorry to say that the board game I’m about to pass off to you like a VHS copy of The Ring snagged me on the latter pretty hard. The hubris I had!
Enter… Success and Tragedy in the Big Apple.
#1 – The Board
One of the first things that caught my eye was the fact that the board for the game is featured prominently on the box, clearly the thing that its creator had the most pride in. I was not wrong… as it’s featured not only there, but on the back of the instructions…
… and on the insert with the game reminding you to to play the game. According to the sad Mad-Lib (Sad-Lib?) up there, this game touts its ability to whip your kids into shape, lest they become drug-addled, traffic-law-ignoring, homeless adults. What we get instead is what I assume to be a reformed junky’s autobiography in board-game form.
The actual board portion is a muddled street map of New York, and not even the instructions could properly explain how to navigate it, much like I imagine driving in New York is like. Sprinkled between the streets and descriptions of locations are a lonely man’s words of encouragement:
If you thought the stuff written on the board was well-meaning but creepy, let’s segue into…
#2 – The Cards
If you thought you were in for an educational family board game night, you were right! Except the education is from the School of Hard Knocks. Almost every card has some sort of half-thought-out, not-quite-feel-good factoid about drugs, homelessness, and more! It’s like if the Academy of Low Self-Asteem got a day off to job shadow at a Hallmark Card plant.
#3 – Drugs
Let’s start with Drugs (I’m into my first beer, seems appropriate):
The message is loud and clear: drugs make you reflect on how bad drugs are, and how terrible of a person you have become because of them. Oddly enough, these don’t directly lead to the Police cards, which are mostly just fines for not obeying traffic in your drug-frenzied driving sprees:
If you’re caught with drugs, however, you’ll be dragged to the court from the 1991 film Nothing But Trouble…
#4 – Criminal
Whew! We made it through the rigors of a woefully inept court! But you somehow forgot where you parked, and yada yada, now you’re homeless. *Seinfeld bass riff* Don’t worry! There are cards for that too!
#5 – Homeless Cards
Fun fact: When I opened the box, I was greated with this creepiness…
But as it turns out, it’s not a leftover from some clandestine Eyes Wide Shut-Type orgy… it’s in the rulebook…
Jake Salvage is the editor-in-chief and overall awesome dude behind this Peanut Butter Disaster site. Check out his Patreon here!