Gentlemen, we have the technology. We have the capability to build the world’s first good TV tie-in board game. But sadly, that’s not what happened.
Before Steve Austin was Steve Austin, there was Steve Austin….
Wait… no… Hold on….
Yeah, that’s better.
The name Steve Austin has meant a lot to a lot of people, but for very different reasons. Throughout the late 90’s and early 2000’s the name Steve Austin invoked images of attitude, “What?”, and stuns.
What a world we live in, huh?
But before that, Steve Austin has a very different reputation, persona and identity. He was less of a “bad boy of wrestling” and more of a “cybernetic do-gooder”. So, kinda the exact opposite, really.
For those not old enough or not “le wrong generation” enough to know what I’m talking about, let me introduce you to the Six Million Dollar Man.
The Six Million Dollar Man (or roughly $35,000,000 in today’s money; not actually that much really) was a Bionic Man, or a Cyborg or a Robocop without all the crazy amount of bloodshed. He went through all sorts of crazy adventures and through death-defying stunts to be the savior that only someone of his ability could perform.
He also met up with Bigfoot like 3 times, so take for what it’s worth.
Anybody want a peanut?
Alright, so sure, Steve Austin was a groovy dude who likes to boogie with some bad dudes. Why are we talking about him today? Well, if you somehow made it this far without reading the title of the article, I’m genuinely impressed so here’s a genuine answer.
We’ll be taking a look at the Six Million Dollar Man board game, released in 1975 by Parker Brothers.
For once, Milton Bradley took a day off.
If you’ve been following these retro game articles for a while, you can probably guess what’s coming. For the rest of us, please keep reading because I need those page views.
The Six Million Dollar Man board game is a game for 2 to 4 players, where each player plays as a Steve Austin, but only one is the REAL Steve Austin! No Joe Patton or Dr. Wells required.
The objective for each player is to complete the 4 Assignments and return to the Bionic Lab. While this sounds like an actually interesting victory condition, I’m sorry to say that is not truly the case. Just like 98% of every TV/movie/comic/cartoon tie-in board game during his dark age of gaming, this is a simple roll-to-move and hope you win game.
On each turn, players spin the dial and move that many spaces, anywhere from 1-6. Landing on a red Power space allows you to draw a Power card. Don’t get too excited, they are WAY less interesting than they sound. Instead of spinning the dial, a player can spend Power cards to move that many spaces, instead of spinning. Kinda neat conceptually, but ultimately very low impact on actual gameplay. Anytime a player lands on a yellow space, they can either lose a turn or 2 Power cards. Landing on a green space means that on that players next turn, they will move backwards instead.
Jerk move, game. Real jerk move.
Once each player reaches the last space of each Assignment area of the board, they remain there until they spin a 5 or 6. At which point they move onto the next Assignment. If they have already reached the end of the 4th Assignment, they instead move into the Bionic Lab and win the game, proving themselves to be the real and true Six Million Dollar Man.
Like so many games of this time, there is basically nothing here to actually play. The only choices the players get are when landing on yellow spaces and if they want to spend their Power cards instead of spinning. But this is one of the FEW instances where outdated mechanics might actually be useful. In this game, unlike so many others of the ear, you don’t have to spin the exact number to land on the final space. However, if that were the case here, it would make a better case for the Power card movement mechanic. It would encourage a reason to use the Power cards when you’re approaching the final spaces in each Assignment to make sure you move the exact number of spaces you need. But that’s not how it works here. Oh well.
OH NO! I’m defending bad game mechanics. Send help! Steve! Where are you?!
I give the game credit for at least trying a lot harder than some other games we’ve looked at, but ultimately, the game just isn’t interesting or exciting. If you’re a big fan of the Six Million Dollar Man, this could be a great collector’s item, but otherwise, just leave it on the shelf.
At least we have this picture of Lee Majors playing the game with a small fan. So that’s fun.
Thanks for reading!
Also apparently, Mark Wahlberg is making a Six Million Dollar Man remake releasing next year.