There were so many wacky board games released in the 80s and 90s, many of which tested out new mechanics and ideas. While most of these new gameplay ideas worked on paper, it does not mean the games were fun.
But there was one game that was more outside the box than any of them. It didn’t rely on franchise characters, it was big, it was fun, it had a spinning frickin monster! That game is
If Fireball Island had a little cousin, Tornado Rex is it. Released by Parker Brothers in 1991 the action-packed game has been gaining popularity with board game lovers.
The game includes two board sections that snap together to form a mountain. It supports up to four players and each player gets two game pieces shaped as hikers. The objective of the game is to get both of your hikers to the top of the mountain to be rescued by a helicopter.
Instead of rolling dice, you draw cards to see how many spaces you move (there is also an international version that uses a spinner). The cards can make you move forward, backward, or let you split the number between both your moving pieces. Some cards will let you switch positions with other players.
In the cave at the top of the mountain lies Tornado Rex!
Tornado Rex is a cyclonic monster that spins down the mountain trail knocking over everyone in his path. He has an internal top that you wind up before use, and his spin is powerful enough to smash through everything and keep going.
There are a few Tornado Rex cards in the deck as well, and when his card is pulled, it’s time to unleash the beast. Get knocked over and you continue from where you landed. Get knocked off the board completely and you must start your trek from the beginning
The goal is of course to get to the top of the mountain. There is a landing pad up there to make your escape, but your piece isn’t safe until you draw the helicopter card. To win the game, both of your pieces must be evacuated from the mountain. Hikers can be evacuated together or one at a time.
Staying safe is not all about luck
You may think there is no strategy involved here but with multiple paths and safe caves that are up off the board, there are plenty of ways for players to hide from Rex’s fury.
Still, you can plan your trip and be as careful as you want, Rex is so powerful and sporadic that no one is truly safe. He winds around so much that you can get hit and knocked over even in a safe spot.
This is as much fun as it sounds. There is so much uncertainty that tension and anticipation build up. Rex could drop at any time and when he does, he can go anywhere. You will be holding your breath as he barrels down the mountain towards your explorer.
Where can you buy a Tornado Rex board game?
Because of the size, rarity, and the fact it can break easily if not handled properly, Tornado Rex is not often found in the wilds and can be sold for a hefty price online, but this does not mean it is not worth the money. Brand new or complete in box copy with no broken plastic has become a holy grail to collectors.
As with most things old and used, eBay is your best bet if you must have it now. Check here for current listings.
Whether you are a collector, played it as a kid, or want to play it with your friends and family, the Tornado Rex game is worth having in your collection. While the gameplay is not deep or involving, that just adds to the excitement.