When I first saw the 8Bit Box board game from Iello I was instantly drawn to this tabletop game that was attempting to emulate the look and feel of classic console video games.
The 8bit Box is actually a board game system featuring a number of different game cartridges each offering a unique board gaming experience. Today I’m going to be looking at the core set and the three games that come with the base box.
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What’s in the box? What do you get with the 8Bit Box?
The 8Bit Box gaming system was designed by Frank Crittin and Grégoire Largey. It features art by Jean-Baptiste Reynaud and was published by Iello in 2018. This is true for the base system and the three games included with the original game box.
Despite the fact that it’s one of the first videos I ever recorded, my 8Bit Box Unboxing video is still one of the best ways to see what you get with a copy of 8Bit Box.
The overall box is designed to hold the main 8Bit Box system and four boxes for “cartridges,” a.k.a. the individual games meant to be played with the main system.
The main system is itself a sturdy cardboard box. On the top, it features six slots to hold the player’s controllers. These are very solid cardboard and come already assembled. Players use these to program their moves and they consist of three different dials. One that selects letters (A, B, C, or D) one that selects directions and one that selects numbers and/or colours.
The bottom half of the system box holds all of the generic components that are shared over multiple games. There are a bunch of plastic cubes both in the player colours and in white, in two different sizes. There are also some unique D6 dice:
White Die: X and O and an equal number of each
Green Die: standard die going from 1-6
Yellow Die: blank, blank, blank, -2, -2, -3
Blue Die: +2, +3, +4 each twice
Red Die: -1 twice, -2 twice, 3 once, and blank.
In each individual game box, you will find additional components. Each has a rulebook and a small set of punchboards. The instructions are full colour and feature lots of examples. The punchboards actually vary in thickness with most boards being rather thin and components being thicker.
I’m not going to get into what you get for each individual game here, you can see that on the unboxing video.
The 8Bit Box is a board gaming system.
Similar to the way a Nintendo Entertainment System is a tool to play various different board games, the 8Bit Box is a set of components designed to play multiple different board games. This game comes with a range of different components, enough for up to six players, that are meant to be used in a variety of different games.
Three of these games come with the original box but other games can be bought separately, at least in theory. At this point, Iello has only released one other game. So there are a grand total of four different games that can be played with the 8Bit Box system.
Each individual game “cartridge” includes additional components and rules explaining how to use the components of the base game combined with the components to play the game. While games share components the actual gameplay is very different between the various games.
Due to this, I’m going to talk about each of the three games that come with the 8Bit Box base set separately as standalone games.
8Bit Box: Pixoid
Pixoid is very obviously inspired by the classic video game Pac-Man. Pixoid plays three to four players in about fifteen minutes.
In Pixoid, each player gets a turn to be Pixoid moving around the circuit board trying to collect white cubes and survive as long as they can while the other players are playing viruses trying to catch Pixoid. The player playing Pixoid earns one point per round they survive with bonus points for the cubes they are able to capture.
After each player has gotten a turn to be Pixod, the game ends and the player who has the most points wins.
The actual gameplay is very simple. You build the board out of four double-sided tiles. Each player picks a colour and places a large cube in their colour on the appropriate starting spot and place four white cubes on their starting spots.
Each turn players use their controller to blindly program a move. This involves a direction and how far they will go in that direction.
Player simultaneously reveal their controllers and the bits on the board are moved appropriately with Pixoid moving first. If Pixoid is caught the round ends, if not you continue to another round.
My overall thoughts on Pixoid: When I first saw the 8Bit Box this is one of the main game cartridges that caught my eye. The game is dead simple to set up and play and pretty much everyone gets the concept right away. Pac-Man is pretty ubiquitous, and that’s all this really is.
While it’s a quick fun distraction I do find this game is over far too soon. What I suggest is giving each player two or three turns as Pixoid, perhaps even swapping up the starting spots to make it more interesting.
8Bit Box: Outspeed
Outspeed plays three to six players in about thirty minutes. Outspeed is an attempt to capture the feel of multi-player battling racing games. Mario Cart being the game people probably know best but the aesthetic here is more F-Zero for the SNES.
You start by laying out two track boards and making a deck of racing track sections. Each player picks a colour and assembles a racer and puts it on the track. They also grab a number of white cubes to represent their fuel. The top card of the deck is flipped and the game begins.
Each track tile shows three potential paths and the penalties and rewards for taking each. The rewards include picking up power-ups and moving up on the track. The penalties usually involve spending fuel.
What is most interesting here is that the rewards and penalties for one or more of the paths are often based on how many players take one of the other paths. Additionally, some of the paths only allow so many players to take them, and if more than that number take a path, no one that took it goes anywhere. For example Path A only moves you up two spots but also give you X fuel where X is the number of people that take path C, whereas Path C moves you five spots but costs you one fuel.
Players each secretly program their selected path on their controller. Once everyone has picked a path the controllers are revealed and the results applied.
Play continues until you get to the last finish line tile, once it is resolved the player further up on the board wins. Ties are broken by remaining fuel. If any player runs out of fuel before the end of the race they lose.
My overall thoughts on Outspeed: I would have never thought to turn a very heavily dexterity and coordination based racing game into what is essentially a social deduction game. Winning Outspeed is all about reading your opponents and trying to predict what path they are going to take.
Outspeed plays best when players are talking. Trash talking, working together and stabbing each other in the back while discussing which path they are going to take. While the game works if everyone plays in complete silence or when talking about things other than the game, it really shines when there’s cooperation or deception involved.
My only complaint about Outspeed is the track board. I find I really want the art on there to matter, and since it doesn’t it should feature less artwork on it and just focus on the lines so you can easily tell which players are where on the track. Basically, if you are going to put a jump ramp on a board I better be able to somehow use that jump ramp.
8Bit Box: Stadium
Stadium is a team-based game for four to six players that takes around forty-five minutes to an hour to play, depending on exactly how many players you have. This game is meant to emulate classic sports-based video games like Track & Field and Summer Games.
To play a game of Stadium you first randomly determine which events will be in your gaming event and use those to build the board which ends up looking like a large track and field track. Players chose either the red or blue team and each pick a character from their team to play. Characters are mechanically identical.
Stadium is played over ten rounds in which each round will feature a specific event. Each event is its own mini-game that will involve one or more members of each team.
While each event is different, there are some commonalities. The goal in each event is to win medals, gold, silver and/or bronze. Some events the team wins a medal other events individual players win medals. The overall goal of the entire game is to be the team with the most valuable medals.
In addition to earning medals, each event is going to cost the teams energy. Each character has their own energy pool that they need to track and manage through the entire game. Most events cost some amount of energy to take part in and reward players that spend additional energy. A couple of the events can actually get players energy back. If a character runs out of energy there will be events they cannot participate in and/or events they will do poorly in.
Individual events are a real mixed bag and make full use of the various components in the 8Bit Box. Some involve making hidden decisions while many of them involve dice rolls with the ability to spend energy to modify or re-roll dice.
My overall thoughts on Stadium: Of the three games that come with the 8Bit Box core set, Stadium is the most involved and best uses the various components that come with the box. There is a ton of variety in the various sporting event mini-games, some of which are more complicated than others. Some are also more fun than others but I didn’t really dislike any of them.
Stadium really is about teamwork and managing your character’s energy. Who is to take part in what event and deciding how much energy to spend is the key to winning a match. Another big part is deciding which events you want to try hard on and which you may want to plan to lose on purpose just to save energy for later. At the same time, you need to be reading the other team to try to figure out what they plan to do and react accordingly.
Stadium really highlights the versatility of the 8Bit Box, and I found it to be the most rewarding of the three games that come with the core set.
Overall impressions of 8Bit Box from Iello
I absolutely love the concept of the 8Bit Box from Iello. As a board game trying to emulate the look and feel of classic retro video games the 8Bit Box does a great job. The three games included in the core set each try to capture the feel of widely different video games and they all manage to do it.
I think the design here is brilliant. I love the controllers. I like the way that the individual games come in boxes that look like video game boxes. I even like that they are calling them “cartridges.” All three of the different games are quite fun and all of them are really easy to teach and very accessible.
These games are all very easy to teach due to the fact that they truly are simple and here is where the 8Bit Box is going to fall down for some people. These are quick and simple family weight games. They are almost at the level of just being party games. Games that are over and done in less than an hour and which don’t have a ton of depth to them. This makes them extremely good for playing with new gamers or casual gamers but also makes them rather uninteresting to gamers who like heavier games.
For me I found the 8Bit Box games to be disappointingly light. I was hoping for something with a bit more crunch, especially when the system comes with three different games. I expected to find one quick simple filler but that would only be one game out of three. Having three games could have meant that they had three games of widely differing weight.
While I have had fun playing with the 8Bit Box it doesn’t get taken out often. For me, it’s something I bring out to public play events when I know there will be new gamers and casual games present. It’s particularly great for our EZY Mode game nights as the theme fits very well for the venue which is a video game cafe. I can see breaking this out on New Year’s Eve or at a party with some adult beverages going around. I’m never going to be taking out the 8Bit Box for my usual Monday game nights though.
For those looking to potentially pick up a copy of the 8Bit Box, the decision should be made based on what you are looking for. If you are looking for some light, fun, quick to pick up, filler games to play casually with friends, this box is for you. This is especially true if the people you are gaming with are into classic video games. If you’re non-beer and pretzels games and don’t enjoy party games and other lighter fare, the 8Bit Box is probably not for you, at least with the games currently released for it.
A note on 8Bit Box Double Rumble
Double Rumble is the first and only “cartridge” that has been released for the 8Bit Box from Iello. It is a 1-2 player game that plays in about 45 minutes and is meant to recreate the look and feel of side-scrolling brawlers like Double Dragon.
I personally have not gotten to play this expansion yet but I did get to look at it at Origins 2019. What I found very interesting about this game is that it plays solo. None of the other 8Bit Box games allows for that, but it’s cool to see it as an option.
While it does seem that Double Rumble has a bit more depth to it than the games in the core set, it’s still just a quick filler game. This is what has stopped me from picking it up. While it looks fun, I expect I would be just as disappointed with it as I was with the base games.
Am I wrong about Double Rumble, have you played it? What about the rest of the 8Bit Box games? If you’ve checked out this board game system I would love to know what you thought.