Kulkmann's G@mebox - www.boardgame.de

8Bit Box


Frank Crittin & Gregoire Largey

Iello Games


No. of Players:
3 - 6



G@mebox publisher Frank Schulte-Kulkmann writes about the game:

At my age of 45 years I still remember the golden age of the old homecomputers. Yes, there were indeed times when games like Pacman, Pitfall or Decathlon could fascinate for hours, and this actually was the time when the gaming consoles were born. These ages are long past, but now the IELLO design team actually has made an effort to bring back these fondly remembered times, releasing with 8Bit Box the first board game console.

Already the technical equipment of this innovation is considerable:

  • 6 paddles with 3 touch-sensitive rotating joysticks
  • 5 cubic randomizer generators
  • 100% customized vocal sound
  • 72 removable 3D pixels
  • IELLO Inside with 2mm cardboard fiber technology
  • Holds up to 5 games (unlimited with shelf extension sold separately)
(Technical specifications according to IELLO)


A gaming console for boardgames? You may ask yourself how this may work, and the answer is pretty simple. Decades back there used to be big game boxes containing whole game collections, featuring games like Chess, Checkers, Nine-men Morris or Backgammon. These game collections where based on the fact that the playing pieces could be used for more than one game, and the same idea had been adopted by IELLO for their 8Bit Box. The console box contains a basic collection of playing materials which can be used for several different games, and these games can be purchased as small modules included only some additional game-specific equipment.


So, the cartridges of the old gaming consoles have been replaced by small gameboxes with boards, bits and pieces, but in total 8Bit Box is a great homage to these old computers. So the main console box does not only contain dice and playing pieces, but a very important part actually are the controllers with dials which the players will use to play the different games. In addition, the basic box of 8Bit Box does not only contain the console gamebox, but actually three different games are included as well, with each of these games featuring a variant of some classic computer games. So, you can send little Pixoid to flee from the bugs in the computer maze, you can Outspeed your opponents in a space ship race, and you can send your team to the Stadium to compete against the other team in classic sports events!

One thing which all three of these games have in common is that they run on a variant of the classic programming playing mechanism. The players actually use the dials on their game controllers to determine their next actions, and when everybody has chosen their actions all controllers will be revealed and the gameboard will be adjusted accordingly. However, each of the three included game modules takes a different take on the programming, so that the games are sufficiently different to be enjoyed on their own merits.

The most classic game is Pixoid. In this game for 3 or 4 players one player takes the role of Pixoid, whereas the others take the roles of bugs which try to hunt Pixoid in a maze. Using their controllers, the players determine the direction and range in which they want their figures to move, and it will be the aim of the Pixoid player to avoid the bugs as long as possible, collecting bonus tokens along the way. A game runs for a maximum of 12 rounds, and in the end the Pixoid player will score according to the number of round he has survided plus the number of collected bonus tokens. If Pixoid is caught before the game is over the bug players will score points for each remaining round, and after the scoring the role of Pixoid switches to the next player. In the end each player has a go as Pixoid, and the game will be won by the player who scored best. In the end, this is a nice, straightforward entertainment game which perhaps may feel a bit outmoded, but due to the strong reminiscence of classic Pacman this game couldn't possibly miss in the 8Bit Box.


A bit more tricky is Outspeed in which the players maneuver their space ships to win the most prestigious race in the Galaxy. Staring with all space ships in the same space, the players move their ships forward, trying to outdistance other ships in order to remove them from the game. So, the racetrack in this game is rolling over, consisting of two gameboards which will be alternatingly put in front of each other. Whenever a ship moves forward onto a new board, the rearward board will be moved forward, possibly removing any players still left on this board.

The programming mechanism used in Outspeed makes the players look at the Track cards which are revealed during each round of the game. These track cards normally feature three different paths, each with its own costs (fuel), benefits and maximum player number. The players secretly use their controllers to determine which path they want to use for the current turn, and then the controllers are revealed. As long as the maximum player number for a path is not surpassed, all players will receive the benefits associated with the path their ships have taken. These benefits mainly are moves forward on the main track, but they may also be Bonus tokens like Nitro, a Flamethrower or a Power field which may later be used to hamper the opposing players' ships. However, if too many players have chosen a path, none of the players receives anything, effectively losing these players the turn by keeping their ships in place.

Of course it is the most attractive paths which offer the grandest benefits, and so Outspeed is a game of high speculation. Will there be too many greedy players to chosen an attractive track, or will all the others play it safe, leaving you the most profitable path all for you alone. Just like old computer games, this is a game of player elimination, but due to the fact that a maximum of 13 rounds played, the timeout for the eliminated players is tolerable. Quite positive also is the fact that the game scales nicely from 3 to 6 players, including double sided Track cards fitting different numbers of players.


Stadium, the third game of the collection included in 8Bit Box, actually is a team game for 4 or 6 players, with the players forming two teams of athletes competing in a total of 10 different sports events. Each of the players controls his own athlete, and each athlete possesses his own contingent of energy which he may spend in the hope of winning as many events as possible.

Already the graphic design of this game module is rather cute, with the gameboard being constructed of different sport event tiles to form a big stadium with running tracks and scorekeeping tables. During the course of the game the sports events will be revealed one by one, with the players moving from one event to the next like in a real decathlon.

16 different sports events are included in Stadium, ranging from classic track and field athletics like relay race or pole jumping to other disciplines like fencing, riding, swimming or beach volleyball. In effect, each of these disciplines is a little microgame, following its own set of rules on which the medals will be distributed. However, all the disciplines have more or less in common that once again a programming mechanism is employed, this time with the players using their their controllers to program how much energy they want their athletes to spend. In some disciplines the results of the team players are added, whereas in other disciplines other player materials like dice may be needed. However, in the end always a winning athlete or team will be determined, scoring points for the team in view of the total victory.

Even though the disciplines are pretty straightforward, the team at IELLO managed to create a collection of 16 different sports events which are different enough in order not to feel too repetitive. In some disciplines the players in a team even have to discuss a strategy how they want to approach the task, whereas other disciplines give an opportunity for some athletes to pause in order to gain back some energy. Due to the rather quick solution of each sports event the game keeps going at a good pace, and so the atmosphere of participating in a very special kind of decathlon is created. Once again a nice homage game, this time in view of the very early sports games in which computer players used to scrap their joysticks…


So, what are my thoughts of the grand total? Taken together, the basic pack of 8Bit Box with the three included games must be seen as a unique tribute to the old age computer consoles, not only relying on a modular system but actually taking up the whole spirit of the old console games in the included boardgame modules. As indicated above, the games can mostly be seen as an homage of the old computer age, and in a way it also feels this way during the gameplay. The decisions for the players are easy and quick, and downtime is kept at a minimum. The game modules are sufficiently different to offer enough variety regarding the application of the programming mechanism, catering for different tastes among the players. If you do not take the whole project too seriously, this effort to make a fusion of boardgames with the long-past first era of playing consoles certainly is an interesting experiment. Nothing less, nothing more.

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Copyright © 2019 Ralf Togler & Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany