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Game Review: ‘Noises in the Dark’

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A thought that comes to mind upon seeing Noises in the Dark is, “What an innovative game!” It is strange to think, then, that this game is at least a half-century old.

noisesinthedarkgameImported from Britain by Perisphere and Trylon, Retro Range takes classic games that are not often seen on today’s gaming tables. While other games are about trivia or strategy or luck or simply visual clues, Noises in the Dark is a test of what the description labels the “Fifth Sense – Touch.”

Gameplay is easy and suitable for just about anyone, although kids may like it best. A “judge” is appointed that hands cards to everyone giving the same word printed with raised bumps on the letters, something like Braille. The lights are turned out, and, in the pitch darkness, players must run their fingers over the bumps to determine what the word is. As soon as a player figures it out, he or she must make that sound so that the judge can hear. The first person to make the sound correctly wins the round!

Noises in the Dark is a gem from a time of creativity before anything required batteries or specially printed dice to play. Much of the enjoyment, or “mirth” as the box description calls it, comes from the players’ own antics. While they fumble in the dark and attempt to make a “shuffle” sound, the giggles will begin immediately. Some player might mistake “moo” for “boo,” and a great deal of laughter will ensue.

The box comes with twelve words, making twelve rounds in which the winner of each gets a point. The highest total at the end wins the game, though there is the chance for a tie and a sudden death round. Additional rules make for further games, such as taking two words at once for double the points. Rules also suggest Noises in the Dark as an ice-breaker game with players each getting one card and, making the noises as they go, attempt to form up a collection of “boos,” “hums,” and “shrieks.” The hilarious chaos will break just about any ice.

As there are only twelve words, it will not be long before repeats have to be given, ending the first part of the game as players gradually memorize words. Replay may thusly be a challenge, though much of the fun is more in the making sounds. If players wish to create new words, it may be possible to write heavily on a new card or indent one’s own dots with a pen and a cloth surface.

Noises in the Dark is a great slumber party game for three to seven players. The ice-breaker rules make it workable for up to 73, giving it potential for office parties or class get-togethers. Rounds only take a minute or two each, which makes for fast-paced games that will most likely be interrupted by uncontrollable bursts of mirth.

Four out of Five Stars

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About Jeff Provine

Jeff Provine is a Composition professor, novelist, cartoonist, and traveler of three continents. His latest book is a collection of local ghost legends, Campus Ghosts of Norman, Oklahoma.