Game Review - Family Detective by SNL Games


Family Detective, SNL Games, 1978.

Courtesy of PixelSight
Family Detective is fun for the entire family. Originally released in 1978, the basic mechanisms of this game are still original and exciting today. Those who like detective and social interactive games will do well to purchase Family Detective.

The basic rules are presented here. Family Detective is played in rounds. During a round, one player assumes the role of the thief and controls the placement of the dollar bill. Another player assumes the role of the detective and handles the play of the magnifying glass. All other players assume the role of impartial bystanders and observe the interaction of the thief and the detective.

Courtesy of PixelSight
To begin the round, the detective hides his or her eyes. This may be accomplished by closing one's eyes, covering the eyes with the hands, turning the head, or walking to the kitchen to fix a sandwich. While the detective is visually incapacitated, the thief player places the dollar bill in an inconspicuous location that is not in plain view of the detective. Example placements may include beneath the coffee table, between the cushions of the couch, folded and flattened under a mug of beer, or crumpled in one's pocket. The spectators view the placing of the dollar bill.

The detective uncovers his or her eyes and begins the search. Using the magnifying glass, the detective examines the playing area hoping to uncover the dollar bill. A methodical strategy usually aids in the discovery. Is the dollar bill hidden beneath the basket of pretzels? Perhaps someone has slipped the bill under their shoe. Is that a corner of the bill poking out next to the throw pillow? Perhaps the bill is hidden beneath the place mat.

All the while the thief and the spectators giggle and chuckle while watching the detective serach for the dollar. Often the chuckles raise in volume as the detective searches farther from the actual site. Particularly loud guffaws may erupt as the detective searches far from the site of the dollar. On the other hand, the detective may silence the laughter as he or she inductively draws near the goal. A loud chorus of "ahhhs" or even hearty applause may great the successful detective.

This game is great fun and the components are extremely high quality. The dollar bill is printed by the United States mint and consists of various shades of green ink on high rag content paper. The detail and life-like qualities of the portrait of George Washington are exquisite. The magnifying glass is made of finely machined glass affixed to a colored plastic handle. The pigment is evenly distributed within the plastic ensuring a consistent color throughout the handle. The magnifying glass may be used as intended in the game or for other uses as well. It tends to enlarge the apparent size of objects held near its focal point and is useful for closely inspecting objects. Also, the nearly parallel rays of the sun may be bent to the focal point, thus forcing a large amount of solar energy upon a small area. This is useful for starting fires or exterminating insects or burning leaves.

There have been many mentions of expansion games and variants for Family Detective. The first expansion will be British Family Detective which replaces the dollar bill with a U.K. pound note. This increases the tension and excitement of the game immensely, as the pound is worth nearly 50% more than the dollar. On the other hand, the pound note is larger, so the role of the thief is more difficult when hiding the pound note among the basket of tortilla chips. Variants of these games have long been discussed among gaming circles. Some of the more popular ones involve hiding larger sums of money or keeping the money that one finds. Others replace the old fashioned magnifying glass with high-tech currency seeking sensors or cash-sniffing dogs. The more physically inclined have introduced fisticuffs, hand-to-hand combat, and weapons fire between the detective and the thief. Family Detective is not just a game, but it is a whole frameworks of games within the entertainment industry

In summary, I heartily recommend this excellent game of social skills and logical deduction to any true stout-hearted gamer. In fact this game is best played with a few glasses of stout.


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