If you and your family are into mysteries, especially on chilly late fall or winter evenings, you might want to look at some old and new games to add some quality family time to those evenings. While there are a number of new video games on the market, like the ones featuring Nancy Drew by HerInteractive, board games are still the best bet for the whole family to play together, in front of the fire. That old favorite, Clue, remains the standard starting point of competitive mystery games. In case you’ve forgotten, in Clue, your character moves around the various rooms of a manor house where a murder has taken place, deductively and logically narrowing down suspects, weapons, and the location of the crime. Like any good detective, you are also able to ask your fellow players questions to help solve the mystery. If you find the original version, with Miss Scarlet and Colonel Mustard entirely too old-fashioned, you may like a pop- culture update, like the Simpsons' Clue (with Homer, Marge, Lisa, and Bart), or one of the other permutations of the game like the Electronic Talking Clue FX or the Clue Scooby-Doo Edition. There are plenty of other variations on the theme like Scotland Yard and 221b Baker Street.
For more mystery variety, Simply Suspects is a new game of suspicion and betrayal from the creators of the board games Spy Alley. These games can be played in their quick mode for fifteen minutes or so before dinner game, or in their longer formats after dinner, depending on an individual family's schedule. The game begins with the players each choosing a suspect card, which becomes their personna -- like Miss D Meanor, Vinny da Skinny, or Pearl E. White. Then, the players move around the game board, trying to figure out the identities of the other players. The winning player is the last one to be discovered, and to pass through alibi alley and the court of law without too much evidence in his or her files.
If you're looking for a longer game, Mystery of the Abbey may be the one for you. The game starts when the peace and serenity of the Templar's Abbey is shattered by the death, or perhaps murder, of Brother Adelmo. Players must solve the crime by making use of the clues drawn from other monks, from the Abbey’s library, and throughout the monastery.
Despite all the competition for your attention these days, there’s nothing quite as satisfying for a family as being able to spend recreational time together. Whether it's playing Spy Alley, Simply Suspects, Mystery of the Abbey, or one of the many versions of Clue, a board game may solve the riddle of how to have fun together. All you need to do is turn off the TV, pour some cups of hot cocoa and add some family or friends.
Copyright 2004 © Cathlena Martin and Laurie Taylor
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