About a week ago, one of my good friends and co-workers at the Arkadia Retrocade sent me some images of a rather retro board game purchase thanks to eBay. As you can see from the image above it was 1979’s The Black Hole: Space Alert game which was produced by Whitman for the Walt Disney company. I did in fact own this back in my youth and had some very fond memories of playing it with my Father so I was totally looking forward to playing the game once again.
It came in awfully quick and last Wednesday when everything started getting quiet at the arcade a group of us decided to crack it open and geek out with some vintage 1979 board game action. Was it everything I remembered? Yes. It was an absolute blast!
To my left is Luca, then Andrew with his back to the camera, and then the owner of the game, Rhi…you can only see her hand in this image. That will teach her to lean forward next time, right?
I chose the character of V.I.N.CENT…naturally…and Luca chose Dr. Kate McCrae, Andrew picked Lt. Charlie Pizer and Rhi went with Captain Dan Holland. Sadly in the game you can’t play the characters of Dr. Alex Durant (Anthony Perkins) or Harry Booth (Ernest Borgnine). I do remember that back in my youth when I had this game myself I was upset that there weren’t cardboard images of the characters.
The game board is quite large which I guess is why it’s made out of paper. For what it is worth Rhi really scored on this purchase, besides just a small amount of water damage the game is absolutely pristine.
Starting on the Palomino, the Players receive a hand of four cards and take one from the draw pile in attempt to match the symbol on the board or color so they can move forward one space.
There are cards featuring Maximillian and the Android soldiers of the villainous Dr. Hans Reinhardt and these will let you take some well placed short cuts…assuming you can pull those cards.
Early in the game it looked like V.I.N.CENT and Pizer were going to be the first ones to reach the Space Probe and escape the doomed Cygnus but an incredible amount of bad pulls from the card deck got me stuck on the board for like 6 complete turns.
Before we knew what hit us, Kate using some amazing strategy took the lead – Luca did a great job of thinking ahead, making sure she had the cards she would need to zip across the board. Which brings up a good point about not just this game but I think a lot of the board games that were aimed at younger players back in the day…you needed some strategy as well as a bit of luck. So Holland, Pizer, and V.I.N.CENT watched as Kate boarded the Space Probe and left us to be consumed by the ravenous Black Hole…just kidding…we all know Kate wouldn’t do that, she was just the first one to the probe.
This game was still incredibly fun to play 37 years after it was first released but one of the things that I really was impressed with was the actual card holder with The Black Hole logo imprinted on the plastic. Very late ’70s and early ’80s. It might be a small thing but for some reason it really made me happy to see that.