• magisterrex Retro Games


    I've been gaming since the days of Pong and still own a working Atari 2600. I tend to ramble on about retro games, whether they be board games, video games or PC games. Sometimes I digress. Decades after earning it, I'm finally putting the skills I learned while completing my history degree from the University of Victoria to good use. Or so I think. If you're into classic old school gaming, this blog is for you!

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What’s In That Game Box? – The MAD Magazine Game (1979)

1979 The MAD Magazine Game box front

Ever scoured the Internet looking for what exactly you were missing from the old board game you pulled from your closet, only to find no succor in your time of need?  Well, stop that Diabloesque mouse clickfest through endless google results, as this week we look at Parker Brothers’ 1979 zany classic, The MAD Magazine Game.

An more indepth discussion of the game’s play can be found in a previous blog entry, titled, The Best Classic Board Games – The MAD Magazine Game (1979) What’s In That Game Box? deals specifically with the game’s contents, which are:

The game box (featuring Alfred E. Neuman on the front with art by Jack Davis)

The game board (with 60 spaces filled with art from MAD Magazine artists, Don Martin, Sergio Aragones, Jack Davis, among others)

4 player tokens (blue, green, red, and yellow)

2 six-sided dice

A supply of MAD Money (in $500, $1000, $5000 denominations as well as a single $1,329,063.00 bill)

24 Card cards, which are:

  • CHANGE CHAIRS WITH ANYONE
  • CHANGE MONEY WITH ANYONE
  • CHANGE MONEY WITH THE PERSON ON YOUR LEFT
  • CHANGE MONEY WITH THE PERSON ON YOUR RIGHT
  • FLIP THIS CARD UP IN THE AIR. IF IT LANDS WITH THIS SIDE FACE UP, YOU LOSE $1000 IF NOT, GO TO TOUGH LUCK
  • GO AHEAD THE TOTAL ON ONE DIE
  • GO TO ANY DOUBLE ARROW SPACE (x2)
  • IF ONE OR MORE OF THE FOLLOWING LETTERS ARE IN YOUR NAME, YOU LOSE THE AMOUNT INDICATED (‘G’ – $500; ‘O’ – $1000; ‘A’ – $1000; ‘T’ – $2000).  HOWEVER, BEING A GOAT, YOU WIN $500 ANYWAY
  • IF ONE OR MORE OF THE FOLLOWING LETTERS ARE IN YOUR NAME, YOU WIN THE AMOUNT INDICATED (‘L’ – $1000; ‘O’ – $500; ‘S’ – $1000; ‘E’ – $500)
  • IF YOU ARE A BOY PERSON, LOSE $1000
  • IF YOU ARE A BOY PERSON, WIN $500
  • IF YOU ARE A GIRL PERSON, LOSE $1000
  • IF YOU ARE A GIRL PERSON, WIN $500
  • IF YOU ARE GOOD LOOKING STAND UP AND IMITATE YOUR FAVORITE ANIMAL AND LOSE $2000
  • IF YOU CAN JUMP UP AND STAY AIRBORNE FOR 37 SECONDS, YOU CAN LOSE $5000. IF NOT, JUMP UP AND LOSE $500
  • IF YOU LIKE THIS GAME, CROSS YOUR LEGS, SIT ON YOUR HANDS, CACKLE LIKE A CHICKEN AND LOSE 1 EGG ALSO $500
  • PLAN AHEAD AND MOVE TO ANY SPACE ON THE BOARD
  • PUT $1000 UNDER TOUGH LUCK
  • PUT THIS CARD ON TOP OF YOUR HEAD AND WALK AROUND THE TABLE BACKWARDS. IF IT DOESN’T FALL OFF BEFORE YOU SIT DOWN YOU LOSE $1000
  • STAND UP AND BOO THE PERSON ON YOUR LEFT. ALSO LOSE $1000
  • TAKE THE NEXT CARD DON’T PEEK AND GIVE IT TO ANYONE ELSE
  • THIS CARD CAN ONLY BE PLAYED ON FRIDAY
  • YOU ARE A ROCK. ACT LIKE ONE. IF YOU’RE GOOD, YOU LOSE $1000. IF YOU’RE NOT SO GOOD YOU WIN A ROCK.

The sheet of instructions.

There is a bilingual version of this game that was sold in Canada which features both French and English on the game board, instruction sheet, and money, as well as 24 French-only Carte cards and 24 English-only Card cards. There is absolutely no difference in game play between the US and Canadian releases, aside from the addition of French.

That’s it!

1979 The Mad Magazine Game box contents

The Best Classic Board Games – The MAD Magazine Game (1979)

If I had to pick a game that was so bizarre and crazy that it was nutty fun, The MAD Magazine Game would be it.  Back in the 70′s MAD Magazine was a serious force on the magazine stand.  I remember reading them and laughing at their fresh and irreverent presentations of everything from spoofing the latest movies and TV shows, to social-political commentary dressed up as jokes, to the Road Runner/Coyote style violence of Spy vs. Spy.   And so when Parker Brothers came out in 1979 with a board game based on the MAD Magazine zeitgeist, it was a must-buy.

The MAD Magazine Game - 1979

The MAD Magazine Game - 1979

You know you’re playing a different kind of game right from the start when you learn what your goal is: to lose all your money.  It’s much harder than it sounds, though, with the Card cards making your life difficult with cards like, “If you are a Boy Person, Win $500″ or “Change Chairs With Anyone.”  You can get lucky, and get a Card card that says, “If you are GOOD LOOKING, stand up and imitate your favorite animal, and lose $2,000″ or “Stand up and BOO the person on your left. Also lose $1000.”  As you can see, the game plays a little bit more wacky than your average board game fair.

The MAD Magazine Game - 1979 Contents

The MAD Magazine Game - 1979 Contents

Moving about the table is an integral part of the game, so don’t get too comfortable in your chair.  Between spaces on the game board that move everyone to a new seat, to Card cards that do the same, expect to have to pick up your drink and move to your right or your left.  But you have to leave your money behind, which can be a good thing (if you had more than anyone else) or a bad thing (if you were almost broke!).   This means that there really is no effective strategy to winning the game that can be planned from the start; the random elements send any plan into disarray as quickly as it is formulated.  Perhaps this was Parker Brothers’ version of Chaos Theory in action!

The $1,329,063 dollar bill.

The $1,329,063 dollar bill.

The game board is filled with classic MAD Magazine art and zany humor.  You can see art from Spy vs. Spy, The Lighter Side of…, site gags from Don Martin and Sergio Aragones, and more.  And much like the magazine itself, there are little surprises throughout the game board that you stumble upon as you play.  Some scenes should bring back memories, and perhaps a smile or guffaw or two.  Just make sure your legal name isn’t Alfred E. Neuman, or you’ll have to collect the special $1,329,063 bill included in the game.  Did I mention the game is wacky?

The MAD Magazine Game is yet another timeless family classic, and is recommended for 2 to 4 players ages 8 and up.



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