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Old school kids' games '70s kids will wish they could still play all summer long; NOSTALGIA Because, as Nathan Bevan found out, after all these years you still still can't shut up those Hungry Hippos.

THE kids of today probably won't believe this, but there was once a time when entire families sat around a large rectangular slab of cardboard and whiled the night away rolling dice and had fun together. As Lidl starts selling retro classics like Twister and Operation, it's time to dig out your tattered Game of Life to really see how you're doing.

MAGIC ROBOT How the box described it: "Ask the robot questions, he always knows the answers - The Quiz Game That's Fun" How we remember it: A prototype Trivial Pursuits in which players did battle with a know-it-all automaton with a pointy stick who - due to some magnetised trickery-pokery - would always single out the correct answer to each question asked before you even had time to open your mouth.

As a result it's nigh-on impossible to find a complete second-hand version of the game anymore as the smug CP30 look-a-like would always invariably end up being hurled out of windows or set fire to on the kitchen hob in a fit of churlish pique.

BATTLESHIP How the box described it: "Combine strategy and luck in this exciting naval action game" How we remember it: Essentially a game of calling out random numbers until someone got bored or tea was ready - at least the (loosely inspired) Hollywood 2012 movie adaptation had the good sense to thrown in some marauding alien invaders.

And Rhianna.

CROSSFIRE How the box described it: "The rapid fire shoot-out game" How we remember it: The quickest way to lose an eye before the Christmas turkey's carved. These days rigid health and safety rules would make this A&E-baiting ball-bearing jamboree a lawsuit just waiting to happen, but back in the more laissez faire '70s small facial scarrings, a chipped tooth or impaired sight was accepted as just part of growing up.

LOSE YOUR SHIRT How the box described it: "A fun and fast horse racing game of bet and bluff" How we remember it: The reason, almost certainly, for the existence of pay day loan firms some four decades on, 1976's Lose Your Shirt was aimed at weening kids from the age of nine and up off making spaceships out of sticky-backed plastic and into the 4.30 at Kempton Park.

Best played whilst smoking those sweet cigarettes you could also buy at the time.

SCREWBALL SCRAMBLE How the box described it: "Set the screwball scrambling over its crazy obstacle course in a topsy-turvy race against the clock" How we remember it: It was supposed to be a game of lightning reflexes, eagle-eyed precision and nerves of steel, but there's not a single soul who played this as a child who didn't just tip the whole thing over on its side to bypass the "crazy obstacle course" and drop the ball straight to its destination.

A bit like the time we simply peeled and reattached all the coloured stickers on a Rubik's Cube and claimed we'd completed it in super quick time.

MR POP! How the box described it: "Match his face in this frantic race" How we remember it: Basically, if Buckaroo and Mr Potato Head got married and had a kid it would be Mr Pop! Players would draw cards with various faces on them and have to recreate those likenesses on Mr Pop's blank, spring-loaded fizzog before the timer ran out and all their hard work was catapulted across the living room floor.

Extra fun could also be had waiting for Dad to tread barefoot on an upturned piece of Mr Pop's beard hidden in the shag pile a few days later.

For many of us it would have been our first real experience of proper Anglo-Saxon swear words.

GAME OF DRACULA How the box described it: "A fiendish game of suspense and fun! Players plot their escape from Dracula's castle and move stealthily towards the exit. But beware! Dracula prowls the castle looking for a victim" How we remember it: Made by the same company that create Monopoly and it showed - except the des res of Park Lane had been swapped for a cobwebby Transylvania castle which you moved your piece around in an attempt to avoid getting nipped on the neck by the undead.

The green vampire bat masks supplied for players to wear never failed to make Nan and Granch's visits ever-so-slightly creepy.

HUNGRY HIPPOS How the box described it: "The frantic marblegrabbing action game" How we remember it: No skill involved whatsoever, you just had to blindly and wildly bang on a little plastic lever until your eternally insatiable plastic ungulate wolfed up all the little white marbles in front of it.

The cause of chronic hand and wrist ache in children during the '70s - it was like Vibration White Finger packaged in a cardboard box.

I VANT TO BITE YOUR FINGER How the box described it: "The vampire game for thrilling family fun" How we remember it: You rolled a dice and moved around a board whilst turning hands on a gothic looking clock. If you were unlucky the vampire would wake, throw open his cardboard cloak and you'd have to stick your finger in his mouth and let him bite you.

That's right, ACTUALLY BITE YOU - leaving gory red felt pen marks on said digit. A generation of seven-year-olds were turned into bed-wetters overnight.

GAME OF LIFE How the box described it: "Skill and chance for all the family - an exciting journey through life" How we remember it: If you ever bought your kids this game it's likely they never thanked you for it.

Designed to simulate a person's journey through his or her existence - from college to retirement, via jobs, marriage and possible parenthood - it's a bit like going to sleep and dreaming, not of flying above the Earth like a bird or wreaking revenge on one's tormentors, but of filling out self-assessment tax forms or re-mortgaging your house.

Call us crazy, but we quite like a bit of escapism in our board games.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Aug 15, 2015
Words:1003
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