VCR games were game hybrid that used video cassettes as a part of game experience. Players might for example search for clues by watching a tape or even shoot at the screen with toy guns when special lights were blinking.
VCR games utilized the defining technology of the 1980s, the video tape, which were used to expand regular games such as board games (and eventually, toys) to new areas. Starting the genre, Clue VCR Mystery Game (1985) was the most popular VCR game and involved players solving murders with real on-screen actors. In Candy Land VCR Board Game (1986) players watched video segments to find visual clues in order to move matching cards from the board.
A unique toy-game hybrid, Captain Power and the Soldiers From the Future (1987) comprised of a TV-show – later released on video – and an interactive toy line. Special light signals from TV would activate mechanisms in the toys and even “shoot” at them, while the kids were able to shoot back at the screen to score points. Similar shooting mechanism was used also in Action Max (1987), a VCR light gun game, that resembled Nintendo’s Zapper. Some of the games, like the horror themed Nightmare (1991), got popular enough to spawn expansions, each of which came with a new video tape.