Jumanji means "Many Effects" in Zulu
A supernatural boardgame, world, and semi-aware entity. The idea was devised in 1985 as a childrens novel, and then expanded into a 1996 movie, and then a single season animated series aired only in the US.
The book explores only the base idea- a board game, themed after a jungle and based on Trouble, where each turn causes terrible things from the jungle to manifest and harass the players.
The movie delves deeper, hinting at an interior Jumanji jungle, and briefly examines the actual psychological and cultural impact such a game would have.
The cartoon dives straight into the inner workings of Jumanji itself, exploring the vast humid hell and all its twisted abominations.
A movie tie-in game was made, but it was wholly disappointing. I would like to fix that.
Many questions exist as to how the game should work.
1. How does the game decide effects?
A) The die result, like in the book?
B) The square you land on, like in the movie?
C) Jumanji decides randomly or arbitrarily, like in the cartoon?
Answer: To accommodate all three visions of the game, all three elements should be applied. Generally, each turn you have to draw a result from Jumanji. The duration of the effect is decided by your roll, while its magnitude is decided by the square you are on. So, although high rolls and double turns get you closer to winning, the effects are FAR worse for everyone playing, but going too slow results in the entire damn jungle being turned loose! Also, the closer everyone gets to winning the game, and the more players there are, the harder the game gets!
2. How are results derived?
A) A deck of cards?
B) A magic 8-ball device?
C) An electronic device?
D) Have a player act as "DM"?
Electronics are bad because dead batteries make children cry and grow up to be serial killers. The 8-ball is the most stylistic, and matches the "popper" from trouble, but is the most limited in options and writing space. Cards are cheap, reliable, and effective... But easily lost and damaged. Having a DM player allows massive versatility and potential, but increases the number of minimum players and reduces the market audience. Instead, behind the crystal lens screen, (Which allows more text on a smaller card) is a simple mechanical device, similar to a bill counter, card shuffler, or the UNO card spitter. It flips cards from the centre off to the sides. So, when you need a new result, simply press down on the disc, which opens a shutter so you can see the top card. When you release, it flicks that card to the side. Then, when you're done, you can twist the cover off, reshuffle the deck, and put it back in. For added variety, all cards are double sided with different effects. Reshuffling can result in entirely new events! If all the cards are dealt out, it reveals the backplate which says, "Jumanji! I win!" implying that the board is sentient, counts as a player, and has won by turning the entire jungle loose upon the world.
3. What about the game pieces and track? How do you emulate their magic? CAN you emulate their magic?
The obvious idea is to simply have a metal backing under the track and put strong earth magnets in the bases of the game pieces. At the very least, this would keep the board sorted during more active sessions. As for the parts moving on their own...? Well, the more I think about it, the less ndcedsary it seems- at least as far as a game goes.
4. What kinds of effects should be included in the game? (Work out what they do later- brainstorm!)
Monkeys (Increase in number)
Lion(s) (Increase in number)
Tiger (Gets bigger)
Poison dart flowers
Man Hunter (Richter Van Pelt)
Man Hunter (German Trapper)
Giant Ants (Black or Red)
River of gold
5. How are we going to replicate the effects without magic or murder?
Well, there's obvious game manipulation, like moving pieces back, skipping turns, etc., but that gets old fast. We could incorporate a sort of pseudo-roleplaying class system, where each player chposes one of four "strengths" in the form of a card at the start of the game. Certain effects could target or exempt specific strengths. We could incorporate effects which act like minigames, such as little cameos of "Cherades", "Truth or Dare", "Twister", "Tag", and others. For instance, a Volcano could force all the players to leave the current room as fast as possible without touching the floor, and anyone who does touch the floor has to hop on one leg for the rest of the game. This would make the game very active and energetic- possibly even exhausting. We could incorporate elements of an ARG, where players actually have to go running around doing stuff while playing the game. For instance, because the pieces stay put on the board, you could have an effect where a player must hide the board somewhere that another player could stumble upon it by accident. The danger here is that if the player sucks and the effect lasts too long, players may loose interest, so wording would need to be very precise. The game could include effects which emulate the possession of an item. For instance, the Witch Doctor could set everyone back one space, but also give any player with the "Smart" strength a "Monkey's Paw". That player can make up to three efects end, but must also call a new effect from Jumanji to do so.
So, there you go. That's what the Jumanji tie-in board game would have looked like, had I made it.