Mouse Trap game (Milton Bradley)


Summary: Players (mice) construct a Rube-Goldberg-style mousetrap piece by piece, collect cheese wedges, and avoid a predatory housecat and grouchy dog.  Ultimately, the mice end up circling a cheese wheel until one gets to start up the Rube Goldberg contraption while another happens to be on the space beneath the net (the final step of the mousetrap).  The collected cheese wedges can be traded for chances to roll the die and hopefully move opponents’ mice onto the target more quickly.  The last mouse left uncaught wins.

~~This original/vintage version has been replaced by Hasbro’s “Elefun & Friends” version, which appears to be not a traditional board game, but a pre-constructed trap with a jungle theme, geared toward younger players with more primitive fine motor skills.~~

Antonio (9): It was very bad because at the end you just go around in a circle.  I did like building the mousetrap, though.  ~GET RID OF IT~

Alice (5):  Fun!  My favorite part is when the mouse got trapped!  ~KEEPER~

Mom (old enough to have seen The Breakfast Club in theaters; too young for Breakfast at Tiffany’s…):  Mouse Trap is genuinely fun for all ages, while you’re building the mousetrap.  After it’s complete and all players keep circling the same six spaces (including “Turn the Crank” and the target cheese wheel), the game can be – literally – interminable.  That it’s not the humans or annoyed pets constructing the mousetrap; nor the mice banding together to avoid capture; but the cute, little 3-D cartoon mice themselves constructing the instrument of their own demise, in hopes their friends will be done in first is pretty horrible.  Luckily, I have yet to meet a child who has thought about that.  They naturally focus on the fun mechanics of the trap.  Besides, by the time you’ve gone around the final loop 5 or 15 times, you have a fairly suicidal attitude toward your mouse.  Let him die – let one of them die – anyone, as long as the game eventually ends!  Best to create your own rules for wrapping it up.  ~KEEPER (for younger visitors)~

Target age? 6+ (We say 4-8. Even two-year-olds are attracted to this game, although most kids under four would be frustrated by how much help they’d need to construct the trap; or how easily it can be set into motion prematurely while moving the mice around the board.  If a child over eight has played it before and remembers how the trap works, it will probably bore them.)

Players? 2 to 4  (Adding more players would reduce how much each child got to build.)

Game length? Long (min. 1/2-hour;  We played for a whole hour and ultimately had to cheat, to end the game.)

Set-up? Tricky, but part of game play (Some parts of the trap require careful balancing and not bumping the board, which may be challenging for young players.)

Easy to learn? Yes (Basic follow-the-path board game.  Rules about the cheese wedges aren’t obvious, but once you explain, young kids can easily follow them.)

Reading required?  Kind of (Pre-readers couldn’t play this alone, but if one player reads the game to a younger player, it won’t hamper play.)

Strategy? Almost none; luck-based (You can choose how cautiously to “spend” your cheese to handicap your opponents, but even that is ultimately subject to the roll of the die.)

Attractive? Yes (The colorful, 3-D mousetrap is eye candy for young players.)

Durable? Average (double-fold cardboard game board; cardboard cheese; indestructible rubbery mice; some parts of plastic mousetrap are thin and can break fairly easily)

Pieces to lose? A reasonable concern (You can still order replacement mousetrap parts cheaply, through Hasbro; but you can’t play the game without all of them.  Mice can be replaced with other markers.  The total number of cheese wedges is pretty irrelevant.)

Price: ~$15 used (Amazon, eBay or the like); ~$20 for the new “Elefun” version



Money! Money! game by Discovery Toys

Money Money

Summary: Players earn money for doing chores (less than $1 per chore), and practice counting out their payments in coins, often with a restriction such as using no nickels. A small bonus is earned, when changing smaller coins for larger ones, or for dollar bills.  “Mr. Moneybags” is the kitty, and players may be forced to donate a payment to him, or win all his money!

Antonio (age 9): I thought this game was fun because it teaches you how to count money and good ways to earn it.  It’s a short, but fun game.  If the spinner gets lost, use a paperclip held in place by a pen or pencil.  The nickels and quarters are too similar.  I give it a three out of five star rating.  ~KEEPER~

Mom (older than 9, but younger than dirt…): I recommend it as a fun way to practice money values, not because it’s an innately thrilling game.   It’s short enough for very young kids with short attention spans, or who get upset about losing.  (Play more than once in a sitting.)  It’s simpler than, say, The Allowance Game (which deals with spending as well as earning); really too easy for Antonio, but he increased the challenge for himself by multiplying, instead of counting coins one-by-one.  For the youngest kids, use real coins and bills, to reinforce the look and feel of actual money.  ~KEEPER (for younger kids who visit; not so much for Antonio)~

Target age? 5+ (We say 5-9. A kid who’s very confident counting money would not want to play this, except to amuse a younger child.)

Players? 2 to 4  (Easily increased, by adding a marker)

Game length? Short (~15 minutes)

Set-up? Easy (Sort coins, assemble in-board spinner)

Easy to learn? Very (Basic follow-the-path board game)

Reading required?  Kind of (Two pre-readers couldn’t play this alone, but an adult could read the game to a child without hampering play [unlike, say, Clue].  However, parents wanting to work on money-counting with their kid likely have a reader on their hands, anyway.)

Strategy? Almost none; luck-based game (You can consciously pay yourself in coins that ensure your ability to trade for larger ones, in the event you land on a “bank exchange” space.  That’s it, for strategy.)

Attractive? It’s very colorful. (Antonio) Cute graphics. (Mom)

Durable? Average (single-fold cardboard game board, cardboard markers, paper bills are easily-wrinkled/ripped, but plastic coins should last forever)

Pieces to lose? Moderate (Lots of coins, but losing a few wouldn’t keep you from playing; and lost markers could be replaced with anything)

Price: ~$15 used, ~$30 unused on sites like Amazon or eBay (Our family picked it up at a Discovery Toys [direct sales] party, perhaps as far back as 2001, but DT doesn’t appear to offer it new, anymore.)