Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Mystery Date

A few years ago I was watching a Simpson's re-run.

It was the one where the family goes to Ned Flanders' beach house and Lisa meets some "cool kids" and for a few weeks SHE is cool and Bart is the unpopular Simpson kid.

In one of the scenes Homer, Marge, Bart and Milhaus all play (the only board game the could find in the house) Mystery Date.

The scene featured this memorable exchange:

Come on Homer. Open the door for your mystery date.

Ooh, captain of the football team. He's a dream boat. Don't wait up Marge...

As a board game fan I checked eBay and found that Mystery Date was indeed a real (and very popular) game from the 1960s.

Here is a write up from boardgamegeek.com


A large white door located in the centre of the board has five 'dates' waiting inside. Depending on how the doorknob is rotated, a different guy will 'appear' when the door is opened.
Players try to collect a set of four cards. Each set of four cards corresponds to one of the 'dates' hidden behind the door (apart from the infamous 'dud').
Gameplay is determined by the instructions on the square a particular player lands on. Cards may be taken from the draw or discard pile, or from other players. When a player holds a correct set of four cards and lands on an 'open door' square the door is opened, revealing the date.
If the cards do not correspond to the date, the player's turn ends but their set of cards are retained. If the 'dud' date is revealed, all cards held by the player are lost and replaced with a fresh set from the draw pile.
If the correct date appears when the door is opened the game is over and the player opening the door wins the game.
This game was first released in a white box in 1965 and had a 'groovy' upgrade in the early seventies with new artwork.

Well, this weekend I got to try the brand new High School Musical edition of the classic board game (on sale at Target for $15.)

As far as I can tell from photos, the layout of the board and the gameplay is the same.

You choose a playing piece (all female) and you go around the board trying to collect 3 matching outfit cards. Once you get (for example) your "skating outfit" you must land on the "open the door" space and hope that you open it to reveal your skating date.

The door is cleverly designed to open to a different date at random due to the shapes of the "date cards" and how they correspond to the turn of the door knob.

The "dud" is a female school administrator with the words "detention" on the card.

If you open the door to find her, you lose your outfit (no... you don't have to play naked) and lose a turn.

There is also an odd twist to this versions. Two of the characters are siblings. It's not addressed in the rules, but if you play as Sharpay Evans you can open the door and win a date with her brother Ryan.


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