04 December 2017
Nostalgic style meets forgettable gameplay
What do you get if you cross Tron, X-Wing, Saturday morning cartoons and VHS tapes? The answer is Lazer Ryderz, a game so thick with ‘80s nostalgia you can practically smell the hairspray.
It starts with the box, perhaps one of the downright coolest storage ideas for a board game in a long while. Each of the component sets for the racing game’s four competitors is housed in a faux-VHS tape sleeve branded up with suitably OTT visuals and flavour text and stored in a cardboard Lazer Ryderz boxset complete with pre-made scuffs and stickers. It’s not hard to imagine that the Galactic Waveryder, Lazer Shark, Super Sheriff or Phantom Cosmonaut appeared on television as you wolfed down a packet of Space Raiders as a kid. The fantastic idea is marred somewhat by the inexplicable decision to make the characters’ trays open at the bottom of the sleeves, meaning the holographic pieces will fall out as they’re removed unless you know what’s coming.
Gameplay is a blend of the light-cycle racing from Tron and the dogfighting of X-Wing, as players shift their characters up and down gears before accelerating using movement templates towards prisms scattered across the playing field – which, handily, is the size of whatever table you’re playing on.
Attempting a turn means rolling a die, which at higher speeds increasingly risks spinning out or accidentally zooming straight into a wall or a rival’s light beam, exploding your rider and respawning them back at the edge of the table – applying a touch of lucky tension to the otherwise rather one-note proceedings. The first to three prisms wins.
While Lazer Ryder’s gameplay is fun enough, it’s clear that the style is doing the heavy lifting here. It’s thrilling to narrowly veer away from a crash or pull off a sudden turn as you zip around the table, but the game can’t quite capture the enduring charm or entertainment of the era it clearly adores.
Publisher: Greater Than
Time: 30-45 minutes
Sometimes we may include links to online retailers, from which we might receive a commission if you make a purchase. Affiliate links do not influence editorial coverage and will only be used when covering relevant products.
This review originally appeared in the October/November 2017 issue of Tabletop Gaming. Pick up the latest issue of the UK's fastest-growing gaming magazine in print or digital here – or subscribe to make sure you never miss another issue.