We were given the 80s & 90s Expansion Pack for review by The Op. For any who are unfamiliar with Telestrations, it is a portmanteau of TELEphone and illuSTRATIONS. The premise is pretty simple, you are playing a game of telephone but with drawings instead of spoken words. With the 80s and 90s Expansion pack, the theme is narrowed down to things having to do with, created in, or popularized in the 1980s and 1990s. It has everything from Stretch Armstrong to the Foo Fighters. Thematically, both decades work very well together as late 80s and early 90s will have you saying “that’s from the 80s?” or “is that really from the 90s?” (We found out that Disney’s The Little Mermaid is from 1989)
Setup is incredibly simple, having the base game you hand out the drawing pads, a marker, eraser and card. Every card has an 80s side and a 90s side with a picture of a die with pips from 1 through 6. You first, as a group, select a side to use on the cards and roll the die. The die will tell you what needs to be drawn but if you have no idea what your theme is, simply pick something else you think you can draw from your selected side. You then write down your secret word/phrase and then draw it on the first Sketch It page. We used a 1 minute, 1 1/2 minute and 2 minute timer. The 1 minute timer was by far the most chaotic as you’re scrambling trying to very quickly sketch whatever you need to sketch.
Once the timer is up, you go to the next page (a “Guess it” page). and pass your drawing pad to the next player. This player will try to guess what you tried to draw and then they hand it to the next player who will try to draw what their guess was. In this way, it becomes a matter of sketching and guessing what the first person was trying to draw. Maybe they got “computer” but someone thought it looked more like a TV, then someone tries to draw a TV and the next person thought it looked more like a picture frame. Some stuff will get lost in translation and that’s the fun of this game.
The game plays well with 4+ players. The only thing you will really need is enough pads for everyone to draw. Scoring is somewhat of an additional step we felt was unnecessary. How do you really score this game fairly? Sometimes “jeans” is close to “slacks” so was that guessed correctly? It adds a little more competitiveness to a game that’s really just about being silly and having fun. While this game is also fun with many people, the game’s minimum player count is 4 which makes the game impossible to play with the usual husband/wife team. Since the pandemic hit, this has also put a bit of a strain on being able to play games with higher player counts.
Language Barrier Playability: You would need an unbiased 3rd party to translate the cards, especially if you are using the 80s and 90s Expansion Pack. If you wanted to go a little rogue, this game is 100% playable without using the die or cards to select the items. You would simply just have to make up your secret word and draw it. So this game is easily made playable with a language barrier if you choose to ignore some of the setup rules.
Replayability: Excellent. The game is very replayable in that you will most likely never draw the same thing in the same playthrough. If you every do roll for the same thing, just pick something else if you would rather draw something new each time.
Artwork: Very simple. The artwork on the game is very simple, with the mascot being a simple black outlined figure. Technically, the artwork of this game is also dependent upon the player. So the game’s artwork is only as good as you.
Quality: Moderate to low. As with most party games, the items included in the box are not great quality. Our brand new copy of the base game came with bent pads, crumpled tabs, and broken markers that would not write and could not be salvaged.
Strategy: This game does not have strategy. We suppose if you really wanted to be competitive you could cheat and draw only things you know how to draw to get a better score. But is cheating really a strategy?
Instruction Manual: Good. The manual does its job well. It tells you how to play, using words and examples in a very easy to follow way. It is also very short and fits neatly in the box. You can’t get much better than that for a party game.
Organization: Good and bad. The organization of the game itself is good. The pads, erasers, cards, markers and die all fit easily into the box. The downside being is that the way that they are arranged can lead to bent and crumpled corners on the pads. Even with our new copy the game the corners were bent on the pads. It may be something that is unavoidable given the components themselves.