We may not live in Woodbury or even the West Georgia Correctional Facility, but it seems we’re still in danger of being taken over by zombies. With the “Dead Yourself” smartphone app, two video games, licensed Trading Card game, vinyl figurines, and a super-fun board game, the ‘Walking Dead’ franchise has just announced that MONOPOLY: ‘The Walking Dead’ Survival Edition and RISK: ‘The Walking Dead’ Survival Edition will be hitting shelves this September.
Potentially a more-interesting twist than say, MONOPOLY: Cincinnati, where just the street names are switched out but the riveting capitalism stays pretty much the same, this permutation also trades money for supplies (fuel, food, first aid) and houses and hotels for fortifications to keep the Zombie Horde at bay. The RISK re-imagining also trades the traditional map for world domination out for 32 territories and six zones of the Southeastern U.S.
I’m usually all about supporting licensing of properties for a richer fan experience. ‘Game of Thrones‘ pewter mugs? ‘Harry Potter’ scarves? ‘Doctor Who‘ brand screwdrivers? Bring them on! But this is getting a bit ridiculous. Tacking ‘The Walking Dead’ onto board games that have stood the test of time just fine on their own is just lazy. It’s the tabletop gaming version of adapting the “Keep Calm and Carry On” trope, and I think fans are really getting sick of it.
The current ‘Walking Dead’ Board Game is not only amazingly fun because it deals with the characters we love, it’s perfectly balanced and exciting as a survival game in and of itself. When your friend dies and becomes a zombie, you run like hell and pray for good dice rolls, and there’s no guarantee that someone will emerge the victor. Same with the TellTale video game. It’s not some cheaply cobbled together tie-in like “Survival Instinct.” It tells a heartbreaking story, putting you in the difficult leader’s position to live the tough decisions you’re forced to make.
It’s surprising how few franchise executives understand the importance of heart and fresh ideas and storytelling. Unfortunately, if they’re banking on the ever-important “Great Aunt buying this game for Christmas because Little Johnny’s such a huge fan of the show” faction, then sadly, they’ll probably get a sizeable return on it and never learn to support the creative types of people who made this franchise such a hit in the first place. But we’ll know the truth.
And if any of you are currently Great Aunts to any Little Johnnys, do us a favor and support the games that mean something.