5 Reasons Why Fireball Island is the Greatest Board Game of the 80s

Several years ago, I ranked the Top Five Board Games of the '80s and I still stand by my #1 pick, Fireball Island. I never owned the game as a kid, but I had a friend who did and we would play it when I visited. Fireball Island was essentially a playset disguised as a board game. Placing the idol, bridges, fireball marbles and the all-important jewel on the molded 3-D mountain was half the fun. 

While I remember how fun the game was itself, we would sometimes just shoot fireballs and try to knock over the character pawns when we completed the game. I'm sure if it had been to scale, we would've used the board as Cobra Island or some other adventure playset for our action figures.

Recently on a trip home with my longtime friend Wyatt, he found a Fireball Island while cleaning up in his childhood home. We both remember playing the game with a mutual friend so this discovery was very surprising (our reaction in the headline picture was real!) The game has always had a mystique about it. Kids pined over it in the years following its released. Now, it's so expensive to own a vintage, complete game that it's even more difficult to obtain than it was as a kid.

With that said, I'm grateful Fireball Island has been revamped and is now more affordable in the modern day. And while the new version is superior in both appearance and play, the original is still THE game that ascended above them all.

Here are five reasons why I think the original Fireball Island is the greatest board game of the 80s:

The Box

The Indiana Jones style font. Beautiful, vibrant colors. Larger than your kid brother. The box alone for Fireball Island was enough to get any kid excited. I'd still love to have the box art blown up and cover a wall in my house.

The Board

Mountain trails, winding rivers, treacherous bridges, secret caves; this board has everything you want in an adventure board game.

The Action

The action goes beyond launching fireballs from the idol. Several fireballs lie in wait across the terrain and with the flick of a finger, you're dead meat!

The Strategy

Double rolls, magic talismans, stealing cards; Fireball Island is so much more than possessing the jewel and avoiding fireballs. The card moves are laid out in a way where real strategy is involved. You get the opportunity to mess with your opponents, force them to move into harms way and block moves that impact you. And just when you think you've swiped the jewel and can make a run for it, BOOM, you see the fake jewel card and your opponent keeps it.

The Commercial

Milton Bradley spared no expense, creating a commercial that looked liked it could have been included in the Indiana Jones film series. The ad featured a life-size model of the board including the fireball shooting idol, suspension bridge, and an Aggro Crag of a mountain worthy to be used on Nickelodeon's Guts. Just imagine being one of the kids on set and the director yelling "Okay, hold your position! We're launching the flaming fireball now!"

Thanks to Board Game Geek for the images.
This article is part of the Show & Tell blogging event hosted by Retro Ramblings. Click the link to get more information on how you can participate each week. Check out the other articles below featuring Board Games.

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