Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Summon the Butler: the Clue DVD Game

I still have my original copy of the board game, Clue. It's in the old Parker Brothers long box format (which, btw, is a pain to fit on shelves) - it's brown, with a magnifiying glass & fingerprint on the cover. The pictures of the suspects are 70's-ish cartoon style which look like they were drawn by the same guy who did the Pink Panther shorts. And the game has seen lots of play... it was one of my favorites growing up. (There are now a number of different editions of "vanilla" Clue, much like Monopoly: Simpsons Clue, Haunted Mansion Clue, Alfred Hitchcock Clue... and, most inexplicably, Dungeons & Dragons Clue.)

As a young man, I purchased Clue: The Great Museum Caper, which is a wonderfully thematic game of stealing art masterpieces. (Well, for one player, that is - the rest are museum guards trying to stop the theft.) Using a hidden movement system (similar to Scotland Yard or Fury of Dracula) on a molded plastic board, the game was/is a nail-biting experience for the thief and a puzzle for the guards. Sadly, it's out of print.

There are other Clue games...

  • Clue: The Card Game was released in 2002. (This version is by Phil Orbanes - evidently, there was another Clue Card Game prototype designed by Mike "Mystery Rummy" Fitzgerald in consideration as well. Being a HUGE Mystery Rummy fan, I'd love to play it!)
  • Clue: Master Detective was Clue on steroids (extra suspects, locations & weapons).
  • Clue Jr has been released in at least three different editions - I'll have more to say about it in a few weeks after Braeden gets it for his birthday. (It's already hidden in the closet - a present from Grandma & Grandpa.)
  • Clue FX (a "talking" Clue game) and Clue: Mysteries (prepacked with 50 mysteries) are both on my wish list... I keep waiting for them to go on sale. (Alternately, I put them on my birthday & Christmas wish lists, as people who can't find a specialty game store can actually locate copies of either of these games.)

Which brings us to the newest Clue game, Clue DVD. It's kind of a "Pimp My Ride" version of the original Clue. The guys from Hasbro took the original "street ride" game, stripped it down and then built it back into a "muscle car" version of itself.

What's the same:

  • The map is still Mr. Boddy's mansion.
  • The map still has secret passages.
  • You still have a hand of cards which tell you what isn't the correct answer.
  • You still make suggestions & accusations.

What's different:

  • No dice - you simply move from room to room.
  • Rooms can be "locked" at the beginning of the game... and later unlocked by the DVD.
  • It's not a murder, it's a theft.
  • There are four categories to figure out: who did it, where they stole it from, when did they steal it, and what did they steal.
  • There are ten possible suspects - the original six plus four new folks.
  • There are new locations including some outside on the mansion grounds.
  • When you make suggestions, you only use three elements of the crime.
  • When you make suggestions, you do NOT move the person you are suggesting to that room.
  • You must move back to the Evidence Room (in the center of the board) to make an accusation.
  • Not all of the cards are dealt out at the beginning of the game - the item cards become available through use of the DVD.

The main differences, however, are part of the DVD innovations. The Inspector interrupts the game at various intervals to give players clues and a variety of new options:

  • You can use the secret passage to move... which activates an animation & a random result. It can be good (getting extra information), neutral or bad (being forced to show other players one of your cards).
  • You can summon the butler - who appears onscreen to give all of the players a clue. As a reward, you get to add one of the item cards to your hand.
  • You can attempt to view an item set in place by the game - this involves a visual/memory puzzle on the DVD.
  • You can read some of the Inspector's notes as he makes them available - sometimes they're very helpful, but it costs you a turn to do so.
  • Finally, you can make an accusation without being knocked out of the game if you're wrong. Using the red magnifying glass and the DVD, you enter your four choices - and, if you're not completely correct, you simply must reveal & discard one card for each part of the accusation that is incorrect.

As the game progresses, the Inspector begins insisting that the detectives pool their resources... in other words, each of you must reveal & discard cards from your hands. This keeps the game moving in two ways:

  1. It forces players to reveal information.
  2. It functions as a game timer for the players - if you must reveal a card when you have no cards in your hand, you lose the game.

Suddenly, there's an urgency in making an accusation, even if you're still a bit unsure. Nice addition, that.

You can solve the mystery the old-fashioned way (without paying much attention to the DVD clues) but they can be extremely helpful. In fact, the best strategy is a combination of the two, using suggestions to narrow options & confirm suspicions.

There are ten cases on the DVD... plus, an additional bonus: a "general case" setting that allows you to play Clue DVD after you've gone through the original cases. (Another nice touch.)

Obviously, I'm a big fan... if you enjoy deduction games at all, this is a must-try!

Full Disclosure: My group playtested the American version of this game for Hasbro.

9 comments:

Lucinda said...

I just got the game. When I first start the game, I have the options to take the secret passage or make an accusation. I take the secret passage since I just started. This is fine at first. Then, it soon continuously returns to "you have successfully navigated the secret passage..." and won't go to any other screen. I pressed this 20 consecutive times at one point. Is this what's supposed to happen?

Johanne said...

When it is your turn you first make a move to an adjacent room - or you can use the secret passage to move (but then there must be an entry to the secret passage in the room you where you start your turn). The next part of your turn is to make a suggestion (later in the game other options in addition to making a suggestion will be available too). In other words, in the begining of the game you only use the DVD if you are to use the secret passage or make an accusation. This can clearly be a bit confusing at first.

Amy said...

How can you tell when yor turn is over in this game?? We are so confused...

mark aka pastor guy said...

Amy:

Your turn is done when you:
a) move (either on the board or via secret passage)
b) do ONE thing after you move (summon the butler, make a suggestion, look at his notes, try to peek at an object, etc.)

sheena said...

I just got the game and it does not give me the option to:
1. summon the buttler
2. look at an item card
3. look at the inspectors notes
We played the whole game just going through the secret passage way and occasionaly making an accusation on the DVD and not once were we allowed to do anything else, or even look at item cards. the buttler or inspector never popped up on the screen either for helpful hints.
i am assuming this isnt normal
Also, how do you unlock the rooms that start out with locks (to go outside to the fountain or rose garden)
HELP we are soooooo confused

sheena said...

I just got the game and it does not give me the option to:
1. summon the buttler
2. look at an item card
3. look at the inspectors notes
We played the whole game just going through the secret passage way and occasionaly making an accusation on the DVD and not once were we allowed to do anything else, or even look at item cards. the buttler or inspector never popped up on the screen either for helpful hints.
i am assuming this isnt normal
Also, how do you unlock the rooms that start out with locks (to go outside to the fountain or rose garden)
HELP we are soooooo confused

Robert said...

the summon the butler option will come eventually, you just have to advance the turns. usually comes around turn 5 I think.

does anyone know if an expansion or update is EVER going to come for this game? I love it and everyone I know who plays it loves it, but it just sits on the shelf now...

Dr. Jim said...

I was just wondering if Robert or anyone else got information about expansion or update for the Clue DVD game. It's heading for the shelf here as well otherwise.

Mark (aka pastor guy) said...

I'm not aware of any expansion. The designer (Rob Daviau) no longer works for Hasbro... he has a freelance game studio.

http://www.ironwallgames.com/#!home/mainPage