New Twists on Classics

We’re big fans of classic toys and games. But we’re also big fans of new tweaks on those classics. This week we review several clever updates to games you know well.

Cat Crimes (Think Fun)

cat crimesRemember the classic Clue game—you know, the one where you use logic and deductive reasoning to figure out who committed a grisly murder? In this game, you’ll use the same basic skill set, analyzing paw prints, toy placement, and other clues. Cards give important details, such as that Ginger was sitting in front of the birdcage and that Tom Cat was to Ginger’s right. By determining where each cat was sitting at the time of the crime, you’ll eventually be able to finger the feline that committed such dastardly offenses as coughing up a hairball or swallowing your goldfish. For one player, age 8+. Under $13.

Cats & Kittens (Laurence King)

cats and kittensUnlike traditional matching games, which have you put together identical pairs, or less-traditional games that have you put together two halves of an animal or object, this one has you match an adult cat with its kitten. (The instructions say to match the mother with the kitten, but honestly, can anyone really tell whether it’s the mother or the father?) The game features 25 breeds (who knew there were that many?), including Russian Blue, Bombay, Tonkinese, LaPerm, and British Shorthair. Ages 5+. Under $15.

Fanzy (Masterpieces)

fanzy dice gameThis one’s a little like Yahtzee, in that you roll dice and try to match what’s on one of the 20 challenge cards. Comes in three sports-themed versions: Hockey, Football, and Baseball, each of which includes dice with logos of all the teams in their respective leagues.  It’s a fun, fast-paced game (takes only about eight minutes to play) for 2-4 players, ages 6+. $21.99.

Laser Chess (Think Fun)

laser chessOkay, this isn’t exactly traditional chess, but it uses some of the same spatial, logic, reasoning, and strategy skills and the object is the same: knock out your opponent’s king. Instead of capturing pieces in the traditional way, you use lasers to do your dirty work. Players take turns moving mirrored pieces around the board. At the end of his or her turn, the player fires a real laser, which bounces from mirror to mirror. If the beam hits a non-mirrored piece, boom, that piece is out. Hit your opponent’s king and you win.  It’s simple enough to be learned quickly, challenging enough to have won a MENSA award, and fun for everyone. For two players, ages 8+. Under $40.

Shadows in the Forest (Think Fun)

shadows in the darkThink flashlight tag, but without the risk of tripping over a tree root or running into an actual raccoon or coyote. The goal is to locate Shadowlings, mysterious (and, presumably, gentle) creatures who hide in the forest and shun the light. One player is the Seeker; the rest of the players are the Shadowlings. While the Seeker’s eyes are closed, the Shadowlings hide behind trees and various other obstacles on the game board. The lights are turned out and the Seeker opens his or her eyes, rolls a die, and moves a lantern through the forest. If the lantern illuminates a Shadowling, it’s frozen in place until it can be unfrozen by another Shadowling. If all the Shadowlings can gather together in one dark hiding place, they win. But if the Seeker can illuminate the whole bunch at the same time, it’s game over for them. Playing in the dark adds a fun, unique, immersive element to this cooperative (at least for the Shadowlings) game. For two or more players ages 8+. Under $25.