Mad Magazine Game
Synopsis of Toy
“Rule #7: Do not attempt to play this game while eating, sleeping, or standing.”
What kind of cuckoo crazy world are we living in when losers are winners, money is the enemy, and a gap-toothed kid named Alfred E. Neuman is a star? Answer: a Mad Mad Mad (Magazine) world. That bastion of juvenile humor and pop satire, Mad Magazine, brought its peculiar ideas about our world into the arena of board games several times over the years, most famously in a game designed for (and, some would say, by) losers.
But first things seventh. The original Mad board game was a little-known gem from 1960, given the appropriately awkward title “Screwball” The Mad Mad Mad Game? (their question mark, not ours). This board game had players traveling around a board filled with Mad-style phony products (Moon Maid Prunes, pantyhose for three-legged women, etc.) The luck of the spinner determined whether players had to pay nothing, half, full or double price for these fantabulous prizes. It may have been in the Mad spirit, but the game was actually unlicensed (which, ironically, was also in the Mad spirit).
A proper Mad Magazine game arrived in 1979, given the official-sounding title The Mad Magazine Game. The “Parker Brothers” name on the box may have lent a touch of class, but this nutty game made sure to shred that respectability as soon as it got the chance. The rules were loopy (and when all else failed, players simply voted on rules), and the game itself was a madhouse.
The object was simple: lose all your money. But the process wasn’t so simple. Moving around a board littered with Mad Magazine artwork from the likes of Don Martin, Mort Drucker, Jack Davis, Dave Berg, Antonio Prohias, Al Jaffee and Sergio Aragones, players followed instructions like, “Lose a turn or go ahead 27,” “Everyone moves one chair to the left,” or “If your name is Alfred E. Neuman, collect $1,329,063. If not, lose a turn.”
Some spaces had players take cards, leading to even more lunacy: “Stand up and boo the person on your left. Also lose $1000,” “If you are good looking, stand up and imitate your favorite animal, and lose $2000,” and so on. Like Monopoly (okay, nothing like Monopoly), players went around the board until somebody finally won…or lost…no, wait…ah, forget it.
Playing The Mad Magazine Game was like one extended giggle-fest, making it a favorite of parties, sleepovers or other get-togethers. Mad’s line of games expanded the following year with The Mad Magazine Card Game, then added yet another board game in 1986 with the tunnel-laying, bomb-avoiding, competitor-sabotaging Mad’s Spy Vs. Spy. The Mad Magazine Game itself had an unfortunately short window in the board game marketplace, disappearing from store shelves by the early 80’s. Maybe the world just wasn’t ready to be turned sideways yet.
Release History of Toy1960 - "Screwball" The Mad Mad Mad Game?
1979 - The Mad Magazine Game
1980 - Mad Magazine Card Game
1986 - Mad's Spy Vs. Spy
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