Do you have one of those cool Generation X aunts who you could always go to with anything? The kind of gal who swings wildly between scathing sarcasm and embarrassing earnestness, depending on the topic? Want to make her smile and regale you with stories about the wacky, often-confusing 1980s that she grew up in? Ask her if she ever played the Duran Duran board game! Bear in mind, though, that even the most hardcore Duranies never knew it existed, but exist it did, and we’re here to arm you with the facts to impress your Aunt Jenny X, who probably has never heard of it, either.
“Duran Duran: Into the Arena” (via Board Game Geek) was a board game produced by Milton Bradley in 1985 in which players would roll dice, move to the center of the board through a ring, and amass cards until someone collected them all, hence winning the game. According to Bell of Lost Souls, there are two phases to the game. In the first, players move around the outer ring with the goal of collecting five of a possible 12 Duran Duran singles, such as “New Moon on Monday” and “Union of the Snake,” and if the single matches one of the cards in your hand, you collect a music video card, for some reason. From there, it’s into the inner circle after you’ve landed on a “Wild” space, presumably named after New-Wave-style rock anthem, “Wild Boys” (watch the dark, uber ’80s video on YouTube).
An absurd notion
Once in the inner circle, the objective is to collect band members. We need to pause here to mention that each fella has a shockingly demeaning point system, with lead singer and supermodel-canoodler Simon Le Bon being 10 points, and the quieter, thinking person’s heartthrob who needed a better agent, drummer Roger Taylor, at only two. The first person to collect all five band members wins.
In order to understand the raison d’etre for this game, you should know that it was released as a companion piece and promotional tool for the band’s live album, “Arena,” and the 1984 conceptual concert movie, “Arena (An Absurd Notion).” “Conceptual concert movie”? Yes. The ’80s were fascinating for the art and music they produced, but trying to understand it all without the internet was exhausting. According to A Side, director Russell Mulcahy used footage from Duran Duran’s “Sing Blue Silver Tour” and spun a narrative wherein the band’s namesake, Durand-Durand, a character from the 1968 cult classic “Barbarella,” crash-lands on Earth and proceeds to kidnap and torture the band and many of its adoring fans because he’s jealous. Finally, a laser or something is deflected by a poster of the band’s “Seven and the Ragged Tiger” album and the beat goes on. See? Exhausting. It is a pretty cool movie, though.
Unfortunately, it’s extremely rare to find a copy of the board game, but if you love wholesome, convoluted fun, as of this printing, you can snag a copy for around $120 online.
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