Eight 80s Board Games That Still Hold Up

Updated July 22, 2021
Cricketers Imran Khan (right) and Graham Dilley (1959 - 2011) at the launch of the sports edition of board game Trivial Pursuit, 1987.

If your nose hairs still haven't recovered from the burning stench of perm solution and you keep finding errant cassette tapes in the junk drawers around your house, chances are you lived it up in the '80s. Long-lasting board games were just one of the many rad things to come out of the 1980s. From the standard Trivial Pursuit to the infamous Dark Tower, take a trip down memory lane with some of the standout board games of the 1980s.

Trivial Pursuit (1979)

The board game TRIVIAL PURSUIT - Getty Editorial Use

If you wanted to feel smart - or at least smarter than your siblings - Trivial Pursuit was probably your family's favorite game. Invented at the end of 1979, Trivial Pursuit took the coming '80s by storm. With its quaint pie pieces and never-ending set of question cards, this game took trivia to a whole new level. With every roll of the dice, you were able to try to one-up the smartest person in the room with your obscure knowledge about history, sports and leisure, or science and nature, to name a few of their categories. Not to mention, you could purchase specialty subsidiary packs of question cards to go alongside your master board; these packs covered everything from music to the silver screen and everything in between.

Dark Tower (1981)

80s games and toys - Getty Editorial Use

This infamous collectible game was released in 1981 by Milton Bradley, and embraced the role-playing craze of the 1980s in the best way possible. Feeling modern with its use of electronic elements and simultaneously archaic with its medieval-esque fantasy storyline. Dungeons and Dragons was the peak role-playing experience at the time, and chances are, if you had a weekly DND game going, you also loved Dark Tower. While it isn't something people play today, it hasn't lost its charm, and a sequel was even announced to be in production and is expected to be released sometime in 2021.

Axis & Allies (1981)

Larry Harris, left, created the game Axis and Allies - Getty Editorial Use

Serious tabletop players from the 1980s probably remember breaking out the box of Axis & Allies and beginning their descent into the political and physical warfare of the spring of 1942. With most strategy games, Axis and Allies could take days to complete, meaning you probably had to fight your mother over taking over the breakfast nook's table for days on end to keep your game set up before you could finish it off.

Guess Who? (1982)

Guess Who? game in progress

Before children were wondering where in the world Carmen Sandiego was, they were acting like amateur detectives with the help of Milton Bradley's board game, Guess Who? Released in the United States in 1982, Guess Who? was a wonderfully compact board game which forced you to use all of your deductive reasoning skills to figure out which person on the board the other player was inhabiting. Half of the fun was coming up with the oddest questions to try to eliminate as many people as possible in one go. And if you were of the inventive type, you could always create new characters and tape them to the slots for a personalized version.

Pac-Man (1982)

Pac Man Board Game

Pac-Man is an '80s mascot, with children and teens flocking to their local arcades to take a stab at beating the highest scores on such classic games like Galaga and Pac-Man. Before video game consoles were easily accessible and the technology advanced enough to bring Pac Man to everyone's home, people bought the board game version to get a taste of that sweet Pac-Man life. Of course, you probably drummed up quite the appetite as your Pac-Man hungrily tore through the board game, collecting its own food and helping you beat your younger brother or sister.

Mall Madness (1988)

Mall Madness game

No matter if you were 5 or 25 in the 1980s, chances are high that many of your best memories come from time spent at the mall. This commercial nexus was the pinnacle of the 1980s social scene, and Milton Bradley brought the fun of the mall to the tabletop with its 1988 board game, Mall Madness. Arriving at the tail-end of the 1980s, it tried to encapsulate the fun of browsing from store to store and spending all of your babysitting money on that new tube top you already had in four other prints.

Taboo (1989)

Taboo game night

Late 1980s and early 1990s parties wouldn't be a success if everyone didn't play a round or two of Taboo. This interactive team-based guessing game was released by Hasbro in 1989, and its gameplay resembles a kind hybrid of charades and Catch Phrase where players tried to guess their teammates word based on their descriptions all without saying certain 'taboo' words. Just as charades devolves into frantic yelling, so too did Taboo, as the best of friends scrambled to figure out words like bicycle in under a minute.

Girl Talk Date Line: The Talking Dating Game (1989)

Girl Talk Date Line

You'd be remiss in reminiscing about the 1980s if you didn't take a minute to look back fondly on the importance of phone calls in the romance department. Girl Talk Date Line: The Talking Dating Game from 1898 equipped players with an electronic phone that had messages pre-recorded on it which corresponded to the game play in which you tried to set all of your characters up on dates and then find a date yourself. Ah, to be decked out in frosty blue eyeshadow, wearing your favorite pair of bright purple tights, and waiting for that call from the neighbor down the street to pick you up on a Friday night.

Totally Tubular Board Games for Throwback Thursdays

Looking back at the 1980s, you probably remember its fondness for loud prints, neon colors, and jean everything; and yet, something as small as a board game can also bring you back to the sleepovers at friend's houses where you stayed up way too late and back to family game nights sitting around your dad as he snoozed in his La-Z-Boy. While not all of these '80s board games have stood the test of time, they all can bring out the inner '80s kid in you.

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Eight 80s Board Games That Still Hold Up