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23 Retro Games That Your Family Will Love

‘Tis the season for giving, and these rad retro games make for great gifts.

Matt Harvey

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‘Tis the season for giving, and these rad retro games make for great gifts. Your kiddos will love them because they’re really fun, and you’ll love them because they’ll bring back happy memories of playing them when you were their age.

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1. Candy Land

This classic from 1949 has evolved over time to update the characters and locations, but it still maintains all of its simple sweetness. The gameplay only involves basic counting and primary colors, so it’s great for small and tall alike. Have fun racing against Lord Licorice on your way to Candy Castle!

2. Mouse Trap

This timeless favorite prompts players to build a Rube Goldberg-style mousetrap while they race their mice around the game board trying not to get trapped. Most of the fun in this game comes from setting up the trap and watching the chain reaction.

3. Guess Who

Guess Who is … well, it’s a guessing game. There are 24 standing character cards and a pile of “Mystery Character” cards featuring the same 24 characters. Each player draws a “Mystery Character” card and tries to guess the other player’s character by asking questions.

4. Trouble

Trouble is the game with the “Pop-O-Matic” bubble in the middle! Players race to get four pegs to the finish of the game board by rolling the die housed in the “Pop-O-Matic” bubble. I can remember playing with the “Pop-O-Matic” bubble without playing the game because the pop was satisfying and rolling dice is fun.

5. Mall Madness

The shopping spree game with the 3D game board  from the ’90s is BACK! Players race around the 3D mall to complete their shopping lists and get back to the parking lot before anyone else. The game features an electronic hub that facilitates retail transactions, announces clearance sales, and offers other prompts.

6. Kerplunk

Kerplunk is a game that involves a plastic tube, plastic straws, and marbles. Straws are inserted through tiny holes around the tube, forming a lattice to keep the marbles from falling to the bottom. Players take turns trying to remove straws without causing the marbles to “kerplunk” to the bottom of the tube!

7. Crocodile Dentist

This game is more fun than it has any right to be! A crocodile has a toothache and you’re the dentist to fix it. The game, which consists of a plastic crocodile head with teeth you can push down, starts when you  open the crocodile’s mouth and push down its teeth until you find the sore one. When you press the sore tooth down, the croc will clamp its jaw shut on your finger (very gently!) and you lose. I play this game by myself as an adult because there’s something satisfying about pushing the teeth down while trying not to get your hand chomped.

8. Trivial Pursuit

Trivial Pursuit is the classic game for fans of trivia and colored wedges! Test your knowledge in Entertainment, Geography, Sports, Science And Nature, Literature, and History as you fill up your pie with those precious wedges. Nowadays, there are a variety of fun editions that cater to specific topics and fandoms such as music, “Harry Potter,” James Bond, or “Saturday Night Live.”

9. Operation

Operation is just fun! Try to save the patient by removing his absurdly named organs without touching the sides. If your hand isn’t steady, the nose will light up red and you’ll hear that dreaded “eeeeerrrrrnt” sound. The person with the most organs at the end wins!

10. Electronic Battleship

The lights and sounds of Electronic Battleship make it far more exciting to play than its analog predecessor. Seek out your opponent’s battleships and experience the timeless joy of hearing them yell, “You’ve sunk my battleship!”

11. The Game Of Life

The Game Of Life is like real life, if real life had a cool spinner! Each player journeys through the game board in their car, racing towards retirement and experiencing all of life’s milestones along the way — get a high paying job, go bankrupt, and fill your car up with kids!

12. Monopoly

No retro game list would be complete without Monopoly! There’s like a million versions now, in variations like “Golden Girls,” “Fortnite,” and “Sailor Moon” — if you can think of a fandom you love, there’s a good chance there’s a Monopoly game themed around it. I don’t think I’ve ever successfully finished a game of Monopoly thanks to antitrust initiatives (my Grandma was a cheater and I didn’t trust her), but that doesn’t mean you can’t! Buy property, stack your money, and try to own the world with Monopoly!

13. Connect Four

Once your kids have graduated from Tic-Tac-Toe, it’s time to introduce them to the wonderful world of Connect Four. Get back to stacking those colored discs as if you never stopped … but watch out for the diagonals! .

14. Clue

There’s been a murder in the house and we’re going to find out who dunnit! Follow the clues to reveal the perpetrator before the other players and win!

15. Jenga

Jenga is the classic block tower game in which each player takes turns removing a wooden block from the tower without causing it to collapse. You can make this even more fun by writing “Truth Or Dare” challenges on each block.

16. Uno

Uno is the card matching game that never stops being fun. Get back into the swing of artfully deploying your  “Reverse,” “Draw Two,” and “Wild” cards, as well as yelling “Uno!” when you’re one card away from victory.

17. Sorry!

In Sorry!, it’s a race to get home! Each player gets four pawns to hop and slide across the game board from the starting point to the home box. It’s called Sorry! because there are so many delightful ways to prevent your opponents from getting home.

18. Risk

Risk is the perfect game for your little imperialist! The game board is a map of the world, and it’s your job to take control of as much of it as possible. Strategize against your adversaries in your quest for world domination!

19. Twister

This game should be called “Try Not To Fart On Your Friends Whilst In Uncomfortable Positions”! Twister is the game of physical dexterity that will push the limits of your personal bubble, and it’s guaranteed to make you laugh.

20. Hungry Hungry Hippos

These hippos are HUNGRY, y’all! This is the board game equivalent of a button masher video game.  Do you still have what it takes to make sure your hippo is the one who gets all the marbles?

21. Yahtzee

Yahtzee is the game with five dice and everything nice. Players compete over 13 rounds to make various combinations of die rolls to maximize their score and yell “Yahtzee!”

22. Simon

Simon is the electronic game that uses patterns of light and sound to challenge your memory. This is a game that can be played with friends or all by yourself.

23. Chutes and Ladders

Chutes and Ladders (or Snakes and Ladders) is a simple game of “started from the bottom, now we here.” Climb those wonderful ladders and slide back down those infuriating chutes as you make one last push for the summit..