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Game Review: ‘Legends of the Hidden Temple’ from Pressman

The famed kids’ TV gameshow Legends of the Hidden Temple returns in a new form, brought to tabletops by Pressman, which has also revisited the past with games like The Oregon Trail Card Game and Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? In the original Legends of the Hidden Temple gameshow, which ran from 1993 to 1995 in 120 episodes, teams of kids competed across a vivid soundstage seeking a historical or mythological artifact. The show was a classic combination of physical feats and mental challenges that required nerves of steel, which translates well to eager party-players.

The Legends of the Hidden Temple game is packed with mini-games to emulate the riotous competition of the bygone gameshow. Players choose up sides, or may play solo, in the original teams: Red Jaguars, Green Monkeys, Blue Barracudas, Silver Snakes, Purple Parrots, and Orange Iguanas. First players must cross the Moat, doing so by rolling dice with the emblems of the teams. For each roll of their own emblem, the team moves forward one space, but a mis-roll of a particular opponent means having to go back to the start. It is a heavily luck-based start filled with tension.

The first three teams across the Moat continue on, while those who have been eliminated take up special jobs for the duration of the game: Olmec, the teller of tales, and Kirk Fogg, the host and time-keeper. The players continue to the Steps of Knowledge, where Olmec reads an entry from the Book of Legends. Tales include mythic figures like Icarus and Ali Baba as well as historical ones like Billy the Kid and Hannibal. The game then becomes a listening/memory contest as Olmec asks questions about the legend, and the first two teams to answer two questions correctly continue on to the Temple Games.

Three mini-games determine who will be the team supreme. First, in a feat of dexterity, players must flip the Golden Cup of Belshazzar from the edge of the table to land flatly rim-side down. Further dexterity is needed to bounce Galileo’s Cannonball into one of the cups, now turned upright. Finally players race to slap cards that match the team name and emblem, collecting stacks, with the team holding the most cards at the end of the deck the winner for the final round: the Temple Run.

To emulate the most famous stage of the gameshow, a map is made by laying out tiles of the different rooms, such as the Room of the Gargoyles, the Cave of Sighs, and the Shrine of the Silver Monkey. The defeated teams secretly place Temple Guard and Lost Treasure cards beneath the map. Then the final team must compete against fate, rolling dice to move through the map to avoid Guards and find the treasure, all in under three uproarious minutes.

Legends of the Hidden Temple is a party game for four to twelve players aged twelve and up. Games last about half an hour, taking more or less time depending on the size of the group and how often players need to take breaks for nerves or laughter. Replayability is high as players will want to practice to be the best at the Temple Games or determine the best strategy for the Temple Run. With 25 tales in the Book of Legends, players will have plenty of games before anything is repeated in the comprehension component. The game is a new classic for get-togethers, whether players remember the original show or are altogether newcomers.

About Jeff Provine

Jeff Provine is a Composition professor, novelist, cartoonist, and traveler of three continents. His latest book is a collection of local ghost legends, Campus Ghosts of Norman, Oklahoma.

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