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Subject: [Review] Clue: the DVD Game rss

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Tom Vasel
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I've never been a big fan of Clue, thinking that it is entirely too simple, with unnecessary luck (dice movement). I know that it's become a cultural icon, but I've found games such as Mystery of the Abbey better. Recently I tried the Clue card game, which was closer to what I was looking for, but I still found lacking. When I received Clue: the DVD (Hasbro/Parker Brothers, 2006 - designers uncredited) game, I was slightly wary at the mixing of electronics and board game - and as I said, I really wasn't fond of Clue to begin with. Upon reading the rules, however, I was hopeful, because the game sounded rather well done.

And I must say that Clue: the DVD game is, in my opinion, the definitive form of Clue. It's much more enjoyable, giving me a challenge when playing. There is a "random" game that can be played, which is rather enjoyable; but it's the ten specific cases that are included on the DVD that make the game great. All of my problems with the original Clue game have been solved, and the DVD enhances the experience, rather than overwhelming it.

In this version, there are ten suspects (with Prince Azure, Rusty, Mrs. Meadow-Brook, and Lady Lavender added to the original six), eleven locations (adding new ones like the Rose Garden), ten times (such as Dawn, Early Afternoon, and Dinner). No longer is poor Mr. Boddy murdered, but rather an item of his has been stolen. In the ten DVD cases, there are also ten items (spyglass, gold pen, medal, etc.) that can possibly be stolen. Each player is given a clue sheet that has all the possibilities listed thereon, and a pencil.

The following rules all apply to the preset games on the DVD:

The DVD is played and gives specific instructions on how to set up that particular game. One of each of the four categories (suspect, location, time, and item) is placed in an envelope, using a red "reader" and locating symbols on the backsides of the cards. This way no player knows what cards are in the envelope, but the DVD does. The remainder of the item cards are placed in a pile near the board, while the other three categories are shuffled into one large deck and dealt out to all the other players evenly (extra cards are placed face up in the middle of the table for all to see). Each player controls one character that starts in the middle of the board in the Evidence Room. The other eleven rooms on the board are attached to this room and each other via paths. One player goes first, with play passing clockwise around the table.

On a player's turn, they first move to an adjacent location, then take one of five options. When moving, a player simply follows a walkway that connects two rooms. If a player is in a room containing a secret passageway, they may attempt to traverse to the corresponding room. The player clicks the secret passageway option on the DVD, and they are told if they are successful or not, and/or if anything else happens.

After moving, a player may make a suggestion. They simply name three of the four things that they think make up the solution to the robbery (i.e. Rusty in the Conservatory at Noon). A player may name any three things; but if they name a location, they must actually be at that location. The first player to their right must attempt to prove that the suggestion is false by secretly showing one of the cards in the suggestion to the player. If the player doesn't have any of the cards, then the next player must attempt this, and so on. Once a player shows a single card to the suggesting player, that player's turn is over.

At an early point in the game, the Butler becomes available (noted on the DVD). A player may click the button to summon him on their turn. The Butler will give a clue about who has done the deed, but all players can watch this clue. The Butler will also give the top card on the item deck toe the summoning butler.

A player can also read a note in the rules booklet left by the Inspector, given as a clue for that specific scenario. The Inspector will also show up at odd times during the game and cause specific events to happen - such as laying an as-of-yet-unrevealed card face down in a room. A player can attempt to look at one of these face down cards on their turn if in that room, and a simple observation test is done via the DVD to see if they can.

Finally, a player, if in the evidence room, can make an accusation, naming all four things by inputting them into the DVD. If they are correct, they win the game; otherwise, they must surrender some cards to the evidence room.

When playing the "General Case" game, there is no butler, and players only seek to find the "who", "when", and "where", but not the item. This game still utilizes the DVD for secret passageways and general events by the Inspector. When making an accusation in this game, a player simply looks in the envelope to see if they are correct.

Some comments on the game…

1.) Components: The game comes in a typical sized Hasbro box with a nice plastic insert to hold all the pieces correctly. The playing pieces are pre-painted sculpted plastic, which look rather nice on the board, and a very nice notepad (each sheet useful for five games) included in the setup. The cards as well as the board have some very nice artwork, and the board itself is really rather well done. The back of each card has six symbols secretly printed on it that can only be read by the red magnifying glass included with the game. A mission might use the four cards that have a fingerprint symbol in the top left corner, for example. This is easy and actually works rather well to pick the four cards for the symbols. Less easy is using the glass for secret numbers on the screen - which works, but is a bit more unwieldy.

2.) DVD Components: The DVD works rather well, both with a remote controller and with a mouse, although I had a little bit of trouble making the actual accusations at first. The music is very well done, although I suppose for some people it might be repetitive - I never noticed it after a while. The graphics and cut scenes are exactly at the point where they are interesting but not so annoying as to take up too much of your time. Overall, I thought it a quality presentation.

3.) Rules: The rulebook has nineteen pages, although some of them contain clues for the specific cases and the Inspector's notebook. They are very well done with tips for those who have played "vanilla" Clue before, so that they can recognize the differences. There is even a tutorial on the DVD to help first time players, although I found it for myself to be completely unnecessary. Everyone that I've taught the game to has picked it up easily - whether it be a teenager or adult, and the explanation of how to set up the cases is crystal clear.

4.) DVD: As I said, I was very wary of using a DVD in combination with a board game, as I find that one of the wonderful things about board games is that they draw a person AWAY from the TV. Yet I think that Clue DVD has the combination down rather well. The DVD is present and rather important, yet it doesn't detract from the board game but is rather an enhancer. It adds mood with the music, options, such as the butler that wouldn't be available with the basic game and just a bit of variety AND is a big way to attract people into playing the game. Besides, playing on a huge screen is rather impressive.

5.) Cases: One of the first comments of those I taught the game to was the fact that there are only ten arranged cases in the game. While that certainly is true, it is mitigated by the fact that there is a random general case that can be played. This random case is by no means as interesting as the ten set cases, but it does allow the game to have long replayability, and the basic game is STILL better than Clue. And even then, ten good games are still very impressive to me and certainly worth the money for the game.

6.) Better than Clue: One of the biggest improvements in the game is the movement system, in which players simply move from room to room, rather than rolling dice and hoping for high rolls. This greatly reduces the luck in the original game, eliminating a mechanic I found simply unworkable. Secret passageways have a bit of luck when using them, but players have the choice of whether or not they want to take that risk. Some games start with locks on doors, limiting their movement, an addition I found interesting but not entirely compelling. I also thought that the game was superior to Clue simply because the option pool was that much greater. Adding four new characters, several new locations, and a slew of times and items makes the game that much better and certainly higher on my deduction list. I'll never play Clue again, simply because this version is that much better.

7.) Fun Factor: The enjoyment of the game is summed up in the whole package. I love the little mini-games of observation that a player must do to look at certain item cards. I think the thrill of taking a secret tunnel is interesting. I enjoy how the Butler's and Inspector's clues can be used to solve the case but in a different fashion than the old method of making suggestions (which isn't a bad idea either). I've always liked the theme of Clue. Finally, the mechanics match up, and it's an excellent game.

If you have a DVD player (and most folk do), then I highly recommend that you pick up this version of Clue. It's very entertaining, yet offers some excellent deduction games, with streamlined yet advanced mechanics, and some bells and whistles - although not so many as to overwhelm the game. I'm curious to see if other board games will incorporate DVDs into their systems. If they can do it as well as Clue DVD game did, then we're certainly in for a treat!

Tom Vasel
"Real men play board games"
www.tomvasel.com
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Mike Adams
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Thanks for the review. I was wondering if it would be like the Clue VCR Game but on DVD (which would not be a bad thing, in my opinion) but it sounds like it's quite different in the implementation. I'm intrigued and will have to check it out.
 
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Andrew DiGregorio
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ditto.. i thought this might be a rehashing of the 80's VCR clue (which i still own and still love), but it looks like a new animal. I'll have to pick this one up!

thanks!
 
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Rob Daviau
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The option to summon the butler should appear after the first 3 minutes. Once setup is done, there should be a menu with many of the options grayed out. After three minutes you'll get a message that the inspector wants to see you. After his message, you'll return to the main menu where the Summon the Butler option should now be selectable.
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Matthew Chapman
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Everybody is entitled to their own opinion, but I seriously beg to differ. I feel that the Clue DVD game is one of the WORST VERSIONS EVER. This game is a disgrace to the name of Clue by it's silly concept of replacing murder with theft. What a terrible idea! Stealing, while it's a severe crime is lightyears away from mystery and intrigue of commiting murder. Thus, the zest to solve the mystery is gone. So is the classic concept and charm. The new characters look quite horrid as well. We get a very fat and ugly Egyptian Prince, a dotty looking Mrs. Peacock look-a-like, a crochety old gardener with a cringe worthy name, and a increadibly dull Lady, who looks looks nothing like a Lady at all. The artwork in the game is terrible to say in the least. Even the original 6 look awful(Why is our dear Colonel lost in the horrid moustache?) Even Miss Scarlet looks terribly ugly in this game with her plastic sugery looks. The medium just doesn't work. I feel that Hasbro is trying their best to slowly PC-ify Clue and water it down so kids don't have to look at murder. Obviously their target audience has changed. Soon we will get CLue DVD Game 2-Who helped Mr. Boddy with the dishes?

As for the gameplay, the cover art throws you off into believeing their will be some character animation sequences. This is not true. All you see it the character in a stationary position against a background. How Lame.

Skip this version, and play the original edition instead. Or if you want a better advanced version, play Clue: Master Detective. The art, and gameplay is excellent in the version. When it comes to transfering Clue to DVD, Hasbro doesn't have a clue.
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