Pros: cheap, an interesting idea and contraption
Cons: doesn't translate well into a game, breakable parts, not something you'll play for long
What Is Mousetrap?
Mousetrap is a game where players must trap mice in a mousetrap that they build while avoiding getting trapped themselves. That is, if you're the only player who didn't get caught in the trap, you win. Each player has a mouse token that he or she moves across the board by rolling a 6-sided die. As they proceed around the game board, they collect cheese pieces used towards building the mousetrap. The mousetrap is a collection of different gadgets and mechanical chain reactions (rotating gears, flipping levers, tilting boards, a rolling ball, a falling cage), it's sort of a Rube Goldberg device. Once the mousetrap is complete, the player who lands on the "Turn Crank" space sets the trap's wheels in motion with the help of a steel ball that triggers the chain reactions in an effort to capture his opponents' mice. Cheese pieces may be used to select and move an opponent's mouse toward the "Cheese Wheel" square where the trap's cage is set and hanging. You can play this game individually or as a team. If playing in teams, everyone must work cooperatively to collect the cheese pieces and build the trap.
My History With Mousetrap
I got this game when I was in elementary school. My brother and/or sister (I don't remember which) passed down this game to me when I was about 6 or 7 years old. My initial reaction was that I wanted to see the trap go. I liked to watch the marble go down the windy ramp and watch the plastic diver flip into the tub. After seeing it the first time, I was a little disappointed mostly because it was over so quickly. Also I was disappointed because some parts of the trap reacted fast, while others progressed much slower. I played this game only a few times before I just incorporated the parts with my action figures.
One thing I noticed, looking back on my experience with the game when I was little was how easily the pieces broke. My brother and sister were very careful and took good care of their games, yet they broke a piece of one of the trap parts. Even worse, the part that was broken off was the corner of the structure with the windy path for which the marble winds down. This made it unstable and the marble would make the structure rock and the marble would get stuck at least a few times while running down.
Later on the pieces easily got lost and broken, as I wasn't the type of person to take care of my games as much as my older siblings. When I tried to reassemble the game in my early teen years, it wasn't salvageable at all. I gave up.
I tried the experiment of MouseTrap in college, thinking it would be a good game to play while staying in and drinking on a Saturday night. To make a long story short, this game doesn't succeed as a good college game, even when people can't think straight and everyone's all "happy". I originally posted the longer story, but I got the impression it lowered the credibility of the review rather than adding an amusing anecdote. I have the original section saved in a text file, so email me if you want more on that. One thing I noticed in the new version that I didn't have the opportunity to see as a child was that the trap would sometimes get stuck in the reaction even if there were no broken pieces. This should serve as an alert to parents whose kids get frustrated easily.
Like I referred to earlier, the pieces are fragile and can easily be broken. Just a snap of a minor piece can ruin the entire trap. There are small parts and marbles that can be swallowed by babies and toddlers. The game itself is simple, but the directions are not well written and can complicate even a simple game like this.
Who Should Play This?
This game has a very narrow window of who should play it. Young children who can still risk choke on small pieces should not play this game at all, perhaps you should hold off altogether if you have a child like this who might get at the game. The marble is small and metal and can be very dangerous to a small child if swallowed. If your child has trouble assembling things, you might want to play it with them to help them. It can serve as a good tool to help learn patience, because if you force a piece it will break. I'm sure most parents can attest that if a toy breaks due to frustration, tears will ensue. If your child is in middle school, chances are you have missed the window of opportunity for this game. A game like this will seem juvenile for older children. If you bought or even thought about buying this game for your teenage son or daughter, I believe it's now a federal law that you must apologize to them.
Adults will not like to play this game. Although it is interesting to think about a small group of adults in their 40's playing this game instead of Trivial Pursuit. In a nutshell, this game is pure luck and it has no negotiation like in Risk or Monopoly. There isn't much social interaction at all. My friend and I used to play Chutes and Ladders on a portable magnetic board in my high school English class senior year. Even though it was all luck and no negotiation, there was a taunting factor when someone fell down a chute or went up a ladder.
Mousetrap progresses gradually and there is no suspense until you hit the final circle when people might get caught in the trap. There is no sense of who?s winning and whose losing. For example in the game Sorry, you know you're not doing well when someone else has 3 tokens in their homebase and you have all 4 of yours at the start. In this game, no one really ever falls behind. It's almost like a drawn out game of Russian roulette where no one gets hurt physically and you go around the circle until only one person is left.
My verdict as to who should play the game (and you have to use your discretion because I don't know your kids): ages 6-8.
The game is an interesting idea, but it ends up being just eye candy for your child. Like real candy the high only lasts so long. The game is cheap. It's only $10 at Toys R' Us, Wal-Mart or any other store you can get brand name games cheap. I gave this only one star because it just doesn't work on many levels. Aside from minor educational aspects like building the trap, it doesn't have many redeeming values. If you're child is a board game fanatic, you might have to buy this game due to all of the advertising. However, it doesn't teach them to become a better game player in the long run.