Retro Recall: Mouse Trap

March 26, 2019 by cassn

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My childhood gave me many unrealistic expectations for my future. Flying cars, hoverboards, genetically developed dinosaurs, the day to day influence of the Bermuda triangle on my life - adulthood is littered with the broken dreams of an eight-year-old Cass. 

However, there are few of these which irk me more than the unrealistic expectations set by one ridiculous game. Here follows a vitriolic rant on the worst game of all time - Mouse Trap.

It's A Trap!

Now - I know what you’re thinking;

“Cass, you’re being ridiculous! Everyone loves Mouse Trap! It’s a Rube Goldberg machine!”

Well, you're wrong, and here’s why. A Rube Goldberg machine is meant to be fun. A Rube Goldberg machine is interesting. And, most importantly, a Rube Goldberg Machine works.

A lot of effort for a cup of tea.

Not once, in my entire life, do I remember catching one of those mice without having to poke at that stupid, plastic cage as it moved painstakingly down a few notches each time.

For anyone who doesn’t remember, or willfully chooses to forget to protect their sanity, Mouse Trap is a game where you play as a mouse, happily wandering about your rodent business, collecting cheese and, for some reason, building a giant convoluted cage in order to entrap your mouse opponents.

Why are you capturing them? What will you do once you’ve caught them? Why is a human diver helping you? These are the sinister questions Mouse Trap never really answers.

Image from BoardGameGeek

Speaking of that diver - was he trying to do a trick shot? He’s standing backwards on a seesaw, so you have to hope he’s in on the plan and not just an innocent victim of a horrifying mouse war which is fuelled by mechanical revolution.

Regardless, it doesn’t matter, since the idiot rarely made it into the bucket anyway. Instead, his fatal concussion on the ground beside a floating cage only served as a stark warning to the rest of humanity about the true power of their rodent overlords.

If, indeed, there is any humanity left in this world of mice and machines.

Alright, so I’ve perhaps gone a bit dark, but I stand by my point - Mouse Trap had absolutely no reason why and a how that rarely worked. Yet, somehow, everyone owned it, loved it, and left me feeling like the last sane person in an inexplicable rodent revolution.

A Childhood Classic

Now, you may find yourself wondering if I already hated this useless, unworkable game as a child, what possible expectation could it have set which has disappointed me in my adult years? The answer is simple: it taught me that everyone I ever met would want to play board games. No one - and I mean no one - in my childhood ever refused to play Mouse Trap.

In a world of Monopoly, Cluedo, Guess Who and Dream Phone (more on the broken dreams of the latter another time), Mouse Trap was the game in our house that never really got put away. The box was battered and broken, and little plastic mice were stepped on almost as often as Lego pieces.

Even though catching my comrade critters never gave me the same sense of satisfaction as Go, Chess, or Backgammon, it’s probably the game I played the most as a child, purely because I liked how happy it made everyone else.

You see, the real reason I’m a board gamer (and the reason I always will be) isn’t competitiveness, or mechanics, or beautiful artwork, although they all help significantly. It’s because I like playing games with my friends. And even though I’ll never understand exactly what these vindictive vermin were up to, I’m glad they brought the people I love together.

Now, I’m a cynical, middle-aged woman with real cats instead of plastic mice and a wine-fuelled coping mechanism. I have no flying car or rideable T-Rex and, even if a hoverboard did exist, I’m no longer cool enough to own one. But I do have a niece, and that niece has Mouse Trap. And every time I’m at her house, she brings it out and asks me to play, and every time I still say yes. 

Because, despite the loathing I have put into this Retro Recall rant, Mouse Trap is a game with mass appeal. In ten years time my niece may have forgotten the rules for enslaving her fellow rodents, but what she will remember is her auntie playing the game alongside her, making communist mouse jokes every step of the way.

Is Mouse Trap still one of your family favourites?

"A stark warning to the rest of humanity about the true power of their rodent overlords."

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"Even though I’ll never understand exactly what these vindictive vermin were up to, I’m glad they brought the people I love together."

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