• 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!

    Creative Commons License
    This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

  • Need Reviews?

    Got a game or product you want reviewed? Send me an email! Will review board games, PC games, video games and accessories (Xbox 360 or Wii, but also new releases for classic systems - you know who you are!)
  • Rules of Etiquette:

    All comments welcome, excepting those that:

    1. Are obvious SPAM
    2. Contain profanity
    3. Are full of p0rn
    4. Advertise or contain links to retail websites
    5. Are abusive or potentially libelous

  • Categories

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 4,483 other followers

  • Recent Posts

  • Archives

  • Follow Me on Twitter!

    • Walked away from the TV before this Oilers team destroyed any hope I have of them not having a fluke year last year. #stressrelief 1 week ago
    • Got home and turned on the Oilers game just in time to see the Jets score. Hope this isn't another sloppy game from Conner & the boys. 1 week ago
    • RT @byterryjones: Looks like the Oilers have spent the last three days reading their press clippings. 2 weeks ago
    • Oilers better wake up and take the Canucks seriously. Right now they are being out hustled and out coached. Call a frigging time out, coach! 2 weeks ago
    • Fully stocked retro gaming store for sale in Penticton, BC! fb.me/210p89Zq9 5 months ago

The Best Classic Board Games – Mouse Trap

Has any game inspired so many budding engineers than Mouse Trap? If there ever was a game that taught cause and effect, Mouse Trap was it. Some have claimed it was “too difficult” to put the game board together. Heaven forbid we teach our children the value of perseverance and rewards from accomplishing something difficult, or take the time to pull ourselves from our daily grind to actually spend quality time with our children. Our microwave society seems hell-bent on celebrating “everyone gets a medal day” while removing any challenges from our children’s paths, while decreasing the level of difficulty for any task to the point of being ridiculously simplistic. But I digress…

Box front for the 1963 Mouse Trap game.

Mouse Trap was created by Harvey Kramer, while working for Marvin Glass & Associates, and in 1963, the game was licensed to the Ideal Toy Company. Mr. Kramer was an odd duck: a toymaker who disliked children. (Shades of old Stauf from The 7th Guest!) The original game design called for very little interaction, with players simply moving their pieces around the game board and trying to avoid being trapped. The lack of interactivity wasn’t surprising, as the game was originally envisioned as a toy, and it wasn’t until well within its development that a game board and die were added. The resulting game sold well enough to propel Ideal into the market as a board game publisher.

The incredible Sid Sackson.

The game was redesigned somewhat in the 1970s by the legendary game designer (and freelance game troubleshooter), Sid Sackson. He added extra game elements to improve Mouse Trap’s interactivity: players now collected pieces of “cheese” while roaming the game board, and could now contrive to get their opponents into the special trap space. This version was released in 1984 by Milton Bradley – who had assumed the game’s manufacturing rights from Ideal – and remains the one embedded in the gaming community’s popular consciousness.

A typical Rube Goldberg contraption.

Mouse Trap was indeed a GREAT game. It was inspired by the drawings of Rube Goldberg, whose complicated contraptions had entertained Americans through the middle of the 20th Century. Unfortunately, although Marvin Glass acknowledged Mr. Goldberg’s influence to the game’s design, declined to play the then quite elderly artist any royalties, which Mr. Goldberg had neither the resources nor strength to fight. It’s hard to believe, but board game history is full of dastardly deeds such as this – just ask who actually invented the game of Monopoly. (But I digress…again.)

How the Mouse Trap works...

In a typical Rube Goldberg drawing, many small actions build one upon the other to create a chain reaction. In Mouse Trap, the sequence is as follows: the player turns a crank, which engages a set of gears. As the gears turn, they push against a lever, which causes a shoe to kick a bucket containing a metal ball. The bucket tips over, and the ball is sent down a set of stairs and into an eaves trough (rain gutter), eventually reaching the bottom where a rod holding a “helping hand” sits. Once the ball strikes the rod, a large marble is dislodged, passing through a bathtub, and landing directly onto a diving board, which in turn sends a surprised diver sailing through the air and into a large wash tub. The impact causes a cage to drop down onto the “trap square,” trapping whatever poor mouse is under it. Whew! I don’t know about you, but it sure sounds like a Rube Goldberg device to me.

Mouse Trap game box.

Although Mouse Trap is a game for 2 to 4 players, and is recommended for ages 6 and up, it really isn’t meant for kids to play unsupervised. The game board is too complex and finicky for a child to set up on their own, without a parent to either guide the process or to offer encouragement when things go awry. However, the game remains one of the best teaching tools to show the relationship between cause and effect, and the consequences of small actions. It can lead to a great conversation between parent and child on this topic, or can be a segue to a long discussion on the unforeseen consequences of undesirable behavior. Any game that can accomplish those tasks is a classic board game, and highly recommended!

And just because it is the best live-action Rube Goldberg machine I’ve ever watched on YouTube, here’s This Too Shall Pass from OK Go:

Advertisements

7 Responses

  1. Going through storage and closets for a trip to Goodwill I came across the old mouse trap game. Couldn’t believe everything was still there including the instructions. Even a broken rubberband layer next to the replacement ones. Box stamped 1963. Even a piece of tape with Christmas wrapping paper remained. We must have taken good care of it because we liked it as everything else got destroyed through experimentation such as burning airplane models as if it crashed.

  2. Have to agree 100% with your digression at the beginning…

    I had a friend who had this game back in the mid 70’s. I remember playing it a few times just to get to the trap. It took a while to build the system before it would work, then you had to land on the right/wrong square to start the chain reaction. If it worked and you were caught by the net at the end, then you were out. Most times it would only get about 50-75% through the chain before something would get stuck or miss. After playing it a few times we would just build the game and play with the it to see if we could get all the way through the chain reaction. Then we would set it up again and set if off again – over and over. That was more fun than playing the actual game.

    What a great blog. Will have to check out more of these games. I do remember playing Careers and Masterpiece as a kid in New Brunswick.

  3. […] off with a new title sequence which reminded me of yet another thing from years gone by, the game Mousetrap. While watching though, I had to wonder- is it possible to shoot a marble out of a […]

  4. I remember getting this for Christmas back in the late 60’s or early 70’s. We could never get it to work. I remember on Christmas day my dad trying to set it up. It always fell apart. I never saw it again after that day.

  5. […] READ MORE Share this:TwitterFacebookStumbleUponRedditMoreDiggLinkedInLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. Tags: Board Games, milton bradley, mouse trap, retro, Toys Comments RSS feed […]

  6. I had no idea Sackson was involved with Mouse Trap. Thanks for the info!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s