Dale Yu: Review of E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial: Light Years From Home Game

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial: Light Years From Home Game

  • Designer: Prospero Hall
  • Publisher: Funko
  • Players: 2-4
  • Age: 10+
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Played with review copy provided by Funko

ET funko

So, when I was a kid, there was this movie called E.T.  It had an alien in it, rad bike chase scenes and introduced a new candy to me, Reese’s Pieces.  For those of you who are younger than me – here is a quick Wikipedia synopsis:

“Alien botanists secretly visit Earth at night to gather specimens in a California forest. One of them separates from the group, fascinated by the distant city lights, but U.S. government vehicles arrive and chase the startled creature. The other aliens depart, abandoning him on Earth. In a nearby neighborhood in the San Fernando Valley, ten-year-old Elliott Taylor’s suspicions are roused when he pitches a baseball into a tool shed, and the ball is thrown back. Later that night, Elliott returns with a flashlight, discovering the creature among the cornstalks. He shrieks and flees the scene.

ET board

Despite his family’s disbelief, Elliott leaves a trail of candy to lure the alien into his house. Before bed, he realizes the alien is imitating his movements. The next morning, Elliott feigns sickness to stay home from school and play with him. He can “feel” the alien’s thoughts and emotions, shown when the alien accidentally opens an umbrella, startling him and simultaneously Elliott several rooms away.

Later that day, Elliott introduces his older brother Michael and seven-year-old sister Gertie to the alien, deciding to keep him hidden from their mother, Mary. When the children ask the alien about his origins, he shows them by levitating several balls, representing his planetary system and demonstrates his powers by reviving dead chrysanthemums. He demonstrates his healing power, through his glowing fingertip, on a minor cut on Elliott’s finger.

At school the next day, Elliott begins to experience a much stronger empathic connection with the alien, including exhibiting signs of intoxication (because the alien is at Elliott’s home, drinking beer and watching television) and freeing the frogs in his biology class. As the alien watches John Wayne kiss Maureen O’Hara in The Quiet Man on television, Elliott kisses a girl he likes similarly and is sent to the principal’s office.

The alien dubs himself “E.T.”, reading a comic strip where Buck Rogers, stranded, calls for help by building a makeshift communication device, and is inspired to try it himself. E.T. gets Elliott’s help to build a device to “phone home” by using a Speak & Spell. Michael notices that E.T.’s health is declining and that Elliott is referring to himself as “we”. Throughout this, the boys are unaware that E.T. is being tracked by government agents and all three of them are being spied on.

On Halloween night, Michael and Elliott dress E.T. as a ghost to sneak him out. Elliott and E.T. head through the forest, where they successfully call home. The next day, Elliott wakes up in the field, finding E.T. gone. Elliott returns home to his worried family. Michael discovers E.T. dying next to a culvert and takes him home to an also-dying Elliott. Mary becomes horrified upon discovering her son’s illness and the dying alien, just as a group of government agents dressed in biohazard suits led by “Keys” invades the house.

Scientists set up a lab at the house, asking Michael, Mary and Gertie what they know about E.T. While the scientists are treating Elliott and E.T., the mental connection between Elliott and E.T. disappears. E.T. appears to die while Elliott recovers. Elliott is carried away, screaming that the doctors are killing E.T. as they try to revive him. When the doctors pronounce E.T. dead, Michael discovers that the chrysanthemums that E.T. previously revived are dying again. As Elliott recovers, the scientists first return him to his family, but then Keys leaves him alone with E.T. Elliott says a tearful goodbye, telling E.T. that he loves him before closing the case. E.T.’s heartlight begins to glow, and Elliott notices that the chrysanthemum is once again coming back to life and opens the case. E.T. reanimates and tells Elliott that his people are returning.

Elliott and Michael steal the van that E.T. had been loaded into and a chase ensues, with Michael’s friends joining them on bicycles, evading the authorities. Suddenly facing a police roadblock, E.T. helps them escape by using his telekinesis to lift them into the air and towards the forest, like he had done for Elliott before.

Standing near the spaceship, E.T.’s heart glows as he prepares to return home, while Mary, Gertie, and Keys show up. E.T. says goodbye to Michael and Gertie, as she presents him with the flower he had revived. Before boarding the spaceship, he embraces Elliott and tells him “I’ll be right here”, pointing his glowing finger to Elliott’s forehead. He picks up the chrysanthemum and boards the spaceship. As the others watch it take off, the spaceship leaves a rainbow in the sky.”

ET board

OK, now that you know how the movie goes, you can play the game.  It’s pretty much acting out the last part of the movie.  You and your teammates play as the kids, trying to get E.T. to the Forest Clearing while evading the police and Special Agents.  As you go, you will collect Device Pieces which ET will use to construct things so that he can “Phone Home”.   If you can get the Mothership to the Forest Clearing and bring E.T. there, the kids win!

 The board shows your little town, with a 6×6 grid of spaces connected by roads, and the 25 zones made in the interior of all those roads – a random item tile is placed in most every one of these zones..   Elliott’s house is in the upper right, and the Forest Clearing is way down in the bottom left.  All of the kids (and E.T.) start at Elliott’s, while Keys and one special agent per player start near the Forest Clearing.  

et cards

On each player’s turn, there are 3 phases.

1] Take up to 3 Basic actions (and any number of free actions).  Basic actions include Moving (up to 2 spaces, along roads or the special red diagonal shortcuts that only kids can use), take a Candy (add one piece to the group supply), and Pick up an Item/Device (picking up a tile in a zone that is adjacent to where you are).  If you move or pick something up while adjacent to an enemy, then you have to roll the Danger die.  

Free actions include picking up or dropping off objects or E.T., moving E.T. by spending a candy, using an E.T. power card (if you are holding E.T.) or teaming up.  You can team up with another kid if you are in the same space; and you actually connect their movers together!  Now, you move as a team, and you also can use each other’s abilities freely.  The Power cards have special abilities (I believe all pulled from events in the film), and there is a display of 3 face up power cards at any time.  You simply use one of the face up cards, discard it, and then refresh the display for the next time.  You can only use one Power card per turn.  Finally, you can build a device if there are enough items of the specific color present on the device construction zones.  If you have enough items, you make the Device Die of matching color, and that die is placed in the Forest Clearing.

If you flip over a ramp as the item tile, you place it on any adjacent space – for the rest of the game, anyone traveling over the ramp can move up to 2 spaces in a straight line along a road from the ramp.

2] Phone home – if there are any Device Dice in the Forest Clearing, roll them now.  For each phone icon that is rolled, move the Mothership one space closer to the Forest Clearing along the track.

ET Dice

3] Move Enemies – Roll the two blue Enemy Dice.  Also, if the active player is on the same space as another kid or E.T., also roll the red Danger Die.  Depending on the roll, one of the cop cars might move closer to the Forest Clearing, Keys moves towards E.T., your special agent moves towards you, and there is even a side which causes double the effect of the other die!  If there are two equal paths, the players can choose which option the enemy takes.  If an enemy moves into a space with a kid or E.T., it stops movement.  Once all enemies have moved, you see if anyone has been caught.  If E.T. is caught, he loses one on his Heartlight, and Special Agent Keys moves to that space – this makes it more likely that E.T. is caught again soon!  If a kid is caught, they drop everything they are carrying, E.T. loses 1 on his Heartlight meter, and the kid is returned to Elliott’s house.

ET in bike

Now it is the next kid’s turn.  Continue until one of the game end conditions is met:

  • The cop cars surround the Forest Clearing.  E.T. loses as he can’t get to the ship
  • E.T. is too weak; if his Heartlight dial reaches 0; well, you know what happens.  I can’t say it here, this is a movie/game for kids!
  • E.T. gets rescued; if E.T. is in the Forest Clearing when the Mothership has made it there as well, the kids (and E.T.) win!  You should figure out how to make your own rainbow.

My thoughts on the game

Well, like most Funko/Prospero Hall games, this is all about the IP.  Everything in the game is from the movie, and this might be the most thematic of the recent Funko games that I’ve played.  If you didn’t like the movie (or have never seen it), this honestly might not be the game for you.  The game is fairly solid, but I really think that the hook here is the IP and not the game mechanics.

The game itself is really quite simple.  Heck, the rules even suggest that once you’re done with setup – most of the rules are summarized on the back cover of the rulebook, and you could probably play with just that page, and then come and open the pesky rulebook to the appropriate section if you had questions that couldn’t be answered by the bullet points on the back of the rules!

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial: Light Years From Home Game is pretty much a pick up and deliver game – with the added complexity that you are trying to avoid the enemies as you complete your tasks.  At the start, you’re trying to find the right device pieces and drop them off in the Device Construction spaces.  Then, once E.T. is able to get to that space, he can put the Device Die together – though I suppose to extend the analogy, you could just consider E.T. as another thing that needs to be delivered to the space.  Then, once the die is created, there is a second bit of pick-up-and-deliver as you now have to get the die to the Forest Clearing.

The movements of the enemies is fairly unpredictable, as they are due to the roll of the dice – and there can be some devastating and unexpected results when the “x2” modifier is rolled on one of the blue dice.  You can mitigate some of the enemy movement by avoiding dangerous moves and congregating at the end of your movement.  However, the game really pushes the kids together.  The ability to Team Up is quite strong; allowing you to move kids together and to share the special abilities – this really helps make your movement more efficient.  The downside is that teamed up kids lead to automatic Danger die roll.  Further, it increases the penalties if you are caught, because one agent in a space with 2 kids means E.T. loses 2 points, which is ⅓ of the whole allotment for the game!

As far as co-operative games go, this is pretty middle of the road.  It’s a little old school in that it is eminently quarterback-able – though I’ve found that plenty of people find this to be a feature (and not a bug) of co-operative games.  This game is sold in mass-market stores, and co-ops such as these allow family members of all abilities to play together and enjoy the game.  If someone is coordinating the actions of the kids, so be it.  

In any event, we’ve found that the game’s basic level is pretty easy when playing with our regular gaming group.  The difficulty level is determined by how many device pieces are required to make each die (3, 4, or 5 pieces).  After a few games, we’ve found that we need to play on the hardest level for the game to be challenging.  That being said; this scalability ensures that groups of different ability levels should be able to play the game and have fun with it.

For a great family night filled with nostalgia and fun, go out, pick up a copy of this game, get some Reese’s Pieces to snack on, and try to Phone Home and save E.T.!  

Until your next appointment

The Gaming Doctor

About Dale Yu

Dale Yu is the Editor of the Opinionated Gamers. He can occasionally be found working as a volunteer administrator for BoardGameGeek, and he previously wrote for BoardGame News.
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1 Response to Dale Yu: Review of E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial: Light Years From Home Game

  1. Christopher Todesco says:

    It’s not a /REAL/ E.T. game if there’s not pits you fall in that are hard to get out of, only to fall right back in when you reach the top.

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