Success and Tragedy in the Big Apple – Artifact-icle

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.)

Dungeon, the Family Ruiner.

“My last batch of children didn’t fair well in this Dungeon… will you? MWUAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!” “Don’t worry sis… there’s an Emancipation form on the back of this box.”

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.

Success and Tragedy in the Big Apple

Spoiler Alert! It’s heavy on the “Tragedy.”

#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…


It’s like a Magic Eye picture, but if you stare at it too long, Hellraiser’s Pinhead pops out of the apple!

Big Apple Instructions

Don’t play this by yourself… that’s how people get possessed.

… 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.


Behold: The final exam for New York cabbies.

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:


Remembering how to get back to your tour bus is a very desperately close second.


I don’t want to break the game’s many [hearts] by telling it drugs and sports are not mutually exclusive…


“Come on down to Flushing Park and trade in your college debt for a farting car TODAY!”


It doesn’t mean as much if you have to say you love me because it’s a law.


New York: Where even the opening parenthesis get lost.

If you thought the stuff written on the board was well-meaning but creepy, let’s segue into…

#2 – The Cards


Hi-Ho Dreary-O.

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):


“… I’d like to have some of his drugs!”


… listen, buddy, you’re in the middle of making a board game for kids, get a hold of yourself.


If you’re curious, the Latin means “So that’s why she was short on rent…”


Seriously, knock it off, it’s hard to explain self-flagellation to pre-teens…


I’m gonna keep this card in my back pocket in case of the robot uprising, just so I have a logic paradox handy.


This just sounds like the really sad superhero origin of Spider-Ham…

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:


Pay your fines or the Police Ghost will get you! OoooOooooOoo!

If you’re caught with drugs, however, you’ll be dragged to the court from the 1991 film Nothing But Trouble


#4 – Criminal


Too bad I used up my Chance card on attempting to convince everyone to play a different game and failed…


Since I’m a treasonous bastard, the answer is probably not America…


I’ll pay the $50 as long as it’s being donated to find the cure for racism.


Ironically, I was found guilty because I corrected my teacher. What Martin Luther King Jr. said was, “I have been to the mountaintop.”


*slowly sneaks out of the courtroom before anyone remembers why I am there…*


“Because we cant have a Kangaroo Court without Kangaroos!”


Yes, God blessed me with a lighter and five minutes alone with the evidence…


Would it be fair if I just popped in a copy of Philadelphia for the court, your honor?


It’s Haiti, for the fifth time. The first four times I committed treason I kind of felt bad. Find a new question.


“You’ve been here a few times, please tell us… we obviously have no idea…”


“It’s a great game if you’re trying to beat a treason rap!”

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


Hey, this is America! We’re already stealing enough from teachers! TOPICAL BURN!


Says the homeless man who has a credit score in the triple digits…


Guh, it’s like watching a one-sided bumfight, and three times as soul-crushing.


Something something Donald Trump.


I think someone accidentally snuck in a card from Sartre The Board Game.


I… Uh…

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…


To the last person who owned this game: we have entirely different opinions on what constitutes “funny”.

Jake Salvage is the editor-in-chief and overall awesome dude behind this Peanut Butter Disaster site. Check out his Patreon here!

About Jake Salvage

Jake Salvage
I'm a Cool Dude that makes videos!

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