The Best Classic Board Games – Stop Thief!

Another one of my all-time favorite board games is Stop Thief!, produced by Parker Brothers in 1979.  This was one of the first electronic board games: players used a handheld device called the Electronic Crime Scanner to hear clues, like the sound of the thief walking across the floor, running down the street, breaking a window, or opening a door. Players move little private detective tokens around the game board, using the Electronic Crime Scanner to check out buildings and search for the thief.  But every turn the thief moves, too, so you have to keep up!

Stop Thief 1979 Board Game

The box cover for Stop Thief!, Parker Brothers 1979.

It’s a game of deductive reasoning, meaning random guesses won’t help you.  The Electronic Crime Scanner can replay the clues to aid you in your quest to locate the thief.  Once you think you know where he is, you call the police, and hope to hear the sounds of the thief being taken away to jail.  But if you’re mistaken, you’ll hear the sound of the thief escaping, and a big raspberry for your trouble. That sound still makes me cringe as it represents the same thing today as it did over 20 years ago: the utter failure of my detective skills.  And I still smile when I hear the thief being taken away by the boys in blue, all courtesy of the Electronic Crime Scanner.

The game play is fairly straight-forward: there are 19 possible locations (marked in red on the game board) that the thief may have committed the crime.  Detectives chase down the thief as quickly as possible, trying to arrest the thief first.  There are 10 WANTED cards for a total of ten thieves to be hunted down, and the first player to earn $2,500 in Reward Money wins the game.  Along the way players draw STOP THIEF SLEUTH cards which can send them to different locations on the game board, earn free turns, lose turns, or even get extra clues.  Between the cards and the dice rolls, there is enough random elements to make games fresh each time they are played.

Stop Thief 1979 Parker Brothers Game

The complete contents of Stop Thief, Parker Brothers 1979 Game

A quick note on the box colors in the images you see above and those you see in the original TV spot below: Stop Thief was sold in Canada and the United States with different box designs.  The Canadian version of the game had to be in both English and French, so the box had to be altered to show this (and there are extra French-only game cards in addition to the English once, also).  The American version was only in English.  Though they have different box covers, they are otherwise the same game with the same game play.

Stop Thief! is yet another classic board game.  It may be older, but it still has what it takes to be hilarious family fun, and is recommended for 2 to 4 players ages 10 and up.



Sega GENESIS 20th Anniversary – Top 5 Accessories

Happy 20th Birthday, Sega Genesis!  Wow, it was just two decades ago that Sega released their Nintendo-killer system, which quickly became the “cool” system of choice for half the video game market.

The Sega MegaDrive - The First Genesis

The Sega MegaDrive - The First Genesis

The rise and rule of the Genesis system led to some nifty accessories.  Here’s five of the coolest accessories that gamers could add to their Sega Genesis:

EA Sports 4-Way Play

EA Sports 4-Way Play

4-Way Play
EA Sports have been making sports-related games for decades, and back in the day Sega Genesis titles were where you went to get your Madden or NHL fix.  But many sports are team games, so Electronic Arts developed the 4-Way Play accessory. This handy little device allowed up to 4 players to play their favourite EA Sports games, so you could have a gamer Super Bowl party, complete with a little pre-game Genesis warm-up!

The Genesis Game Genie by Galoob

The Genesis Game Genie by Galoob

Game Genie
Some Genesis games were hard to beat.  Really hard.  (And some ridiculously easy, but I digress.)  Game Genie by Camerica/Galoob to the rescue!  All you had to do is pop the Genie into the Genesis and insert your game cartridge into it, enter the right code for whatever cheat you wanted, and the game suddenly became a lot easier!  (And you could use the Genie as a country converter cartridge for most games, too – but not officially…)

The Sega Channel by General Instrument

The Sega Channel by General Instrument

Sega Channel
Long before Internet online games, Sega came up with the idea to offer games by download.  This little box attached to the Genesis and to the cablevision line.  Players paid a monthly service fee to get access to unlimited access to 50 or so games, plus limited previews of new releases, as well as special versions of fan favorites.  The service is long gone, but still remembered fondly!

The Sega Power Base Converter

The Sega Power Base Converter

Power Base Converter
Before the Sega Genesis was a hit, there was the Sega Master System.  Although it never reached the market share dominance that the Genesis did, there were quite a few games and consoles sold.  Rather than tossing out the old games (like Phantasy Star!) gamers could pick up the Power Base Converter, which attached to the Genesis and allowed those SMS games to be played on their new Genesis.  8-bit gaming goodness on their new 16-bit gamer powerhouse!  Gamergasm!

Sega CD Accessory - Top and Side Mounts

Sega CD Accessory - Top and Side Mounts

Sega CD
If you had the cash, the Sega CD was a must-have accessory.  It came in two designs, a CD-player style for the older Genesis systems, which stacked on top of each other, and a top-loading style for the new Genesis systems, which acted as a base and the Genesis inserted into its side.  (The Nomad would be released later.) Some of the best games for the Genesis were released on CD-format, including Lunar: The Silver Star, Sonic the Hedgehog CD, The Amazing Spider-Man vs. The Kingpin, and Earthworm Jim.  Now that’s quality retro gaming!

The Best Classic Board Games – Payday

One of my favorite board games growing up was Payday.  Not the later versions (dreck!), but the original Parker Brothers 1974 release, with the green box and little dollar signs for playing pieces, invented by Paul J. Gruen (who also invented other classic games like Bonkers!, as well as games based on TV properties, such as Battlestar Galactica, and The Six Million Dollar Man: Bionic Crisis.

Payday from Parker Brothers, 1974

Payday from Parker Brothers, 1974

The game is pretty straightforward.  The game board is in the shape of a calendar month. You roll the die and move your token throughout the month.  And just like reality, you’ve got to roll with the punches.  You get Mail – sometimes bills, sometimes junk, and – rarely! – a little bit of cash.  Every so often you get access to a Deal, some which might make you a little extra spending money, some that might make you wealthy – but the deal might go sour, too.  And all the while, you’ve got to manage your money.

Payday 1974 Parker Brothers Game Pieces

Payday 1974 Parker Brothers Game Pieces

It’s a perfect game to play with teens and tweens to help them visualize a typical month of paying bills, collecting a paycheque, and trying to get ahead just a little bit more than the month before.  And it’s all done with a healthy dose of clean, family-friendly humor.  You can play it with as little as two people, and up to six, ages 8 and up.

Payday is a classic board game, and certainly one of the best.  Highly recommended!

Those Dining Room Board Game Memories…

Some of my fondest childhood memories are from the family gathered about the dining room table playing board games.  We were a Parker Brothers family, playing classic games like Payday, Full House, Stop Thief!, and Monopoly.  Many hours of rolling dice and moving tokens around a game board mixed with small talk and good, clean family time.  The television was off and snacks were distributed to keep our little stomachs full and our minds focused on the fun.

It was the original social networking.

Today’s world is full of distractions: increased pressures from a tough economy, the Internet, advanced gaming machines with hyper-realistic games, hundreds of television stations to channel surf through, and more.  But it seems to me that we’ve lost the ability to shut everything off, gather around the table and spend an hour or two with friends and family in a relaxed atmosphere.  And that’s a shame.

I think I’m going to dig out some of my old board games from storage and bring back a family tradition!

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