Catch Phrase

Parker Brothers (Hasbro), 1994, 4 or more "adult" players (divided into 2 teams). Another family/party game in desperate pursuit of Trivial Pursuit. Catch Phrase employs the time-honored mechanism of trying to get your teammates to guess a word by giving them clues to the word without actually saying the word (y'know, Password, $20,000 Pyramid, et al). The twist here is that the words appear on a little wheel and at the beginning of a round a timer is started. When your team gets a word right, you click a button on the wheel to cause a new word to appear and pass the wheel to a player on the other team. When they get the word right, they click it again and pass it back to someone else on your team. And so it goes until the timer goes off. The team left holding the bag (or in this case, the wheel) does not get a point this turn (the other team does). The timer is nicely obnoxious insofar as it gradually ticks itself into a frenzy as time starts running out, lending a nice level of panic to the proceedings. On the other hand, clever people will start waiting for a really easy word and let the timer count down until it's almost run out, get their team to guess the word and then hand off the wheel with little or no time remaining. A better system might be to count up how many clues your team got right that turn and the team not left holding the wheel gets that many points. The game comes with a fairly limited number of wheels, all of which contain a lot of really easy words (so you go through wheels pretty quickly). Fortunately, it comes with all kinds of instructions on how to order more (blah!) For that reason alone I give it thumb down.

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