Chairman of the Board: Racism, British style

Illustration by Ed Appleby

‘Banzai’ game review

By Ed Appleby, Illustrator

There is a trend now that games do not have to be politically correct to be enjoyable—just look at Cards Against Humanity or Kittens in a Blender. Banzai takes this concept and gets it completely wrong.

Banzai is a DVD betting game for two to four players published in 2006 by Screenlife, the same company that publishes the popular Scene It? franchise. The game is based on a British game show produced from 2001 to 2003 where viewers were encouraged to wager on what they thought the outcome of scenarios being played out on the show would be.

The game and show are both produced with a pseudo Japanese game show feel. To decide who is in charge of the betting, players must place as many plastic sushi into a bowl as they can with a pair of chopsticks. Wagers are made and the winner then gets all of the sushi. Once a player has all of the sushi, they win.

There are many problems with the game. The sushi betting round gives a distinct advantage to those who have deft hands with the chopsticks. There is usually no logical way to know what the result of the DVD scenario will be, but anyone who plays the game enough times will know how the scenarios will end. I have yet to play a game that wasn’t grossly imbalanced.

And then there is the horrific racism.

The game and the show that it was based on are horribly offensive, from getting people to do disgusting and degrading things, to the Japanese minstrel show framing device. The show never had any significant airtime due to the uproar caused by the Asian-American community.

Racism aside, it’s the unbalanced gameplay and reliance on a DVD player that make this a disaster of a game.