Who killed Col. Mustard? 'Clue' company makes over a classic

Here's Kasandra Scarlet, relaxing in the spa, a pair of ominously heavy dumbbells at her side. Over in another wing of the mansion, hiding in the darkness of a home theater and cradling an old football trophy, is Jack Mustard.

And Mr. Boddy — well, Mr. Boddy's still dead. Something's fishy here. What happened to the lovable Colonel and his yellow safari hat? Why isn't Miss Scarlet in the conservatory? And where, oh where, is the wrench?

Welcome to the future according to Hasbro. In the world of board-game sleuthing, there's no room for the fuddy-duddy Colonel with his monocle and ridiculous hat. The toymaker has announced the release of a jazzed-up version of Clue, that classic noir board game.

Clue's been around since 1949, which is admittedly a long time, but sometimes oldies really are goodies. In Hasbro's re-imagining, the world of Clue no longer resembles a delicious chapter from an Agatha Christie novel; instead, it's taken straight out of some reality television show.

Game designer Rob Daviau says the changes make the game feel more contemporary and prevent kids from tuning out in between turns.

"Clue was invented during World War II in England, and it embodied a dinner party of the rich and famous. The cast of characters were all the people you wanted to hang out with, rub elbows with," Daviau says. "They appealed to someone born in England in the 1930s. What we tried to do was keep the fantasy and the feel the same, but make the characters appeal to someone born in the 1990s."

The once-mysterious, once-quaint characters now come with first names and bios. Miss Scarlet is Kasandra, a famous actress whose antics often crop up in the tabloids. Colonel Mustard is now Jack, a former football star. The professor, Peter Plum, becomes Victor Plum, a billionaire video game designer and now too cool for alliteration. Mr. Green is Jacob Green, an African American who, as Daviau says, "is connected — you're not sure exactly what he does or where he's from, but you want to hang out with him."

They're the same characters, Daviau says, with the same goal of looking for who, where and what.

"I must say, I'm not very happy about the updates they have made," says Stacie Chapman, a Clue lover from Maryland.

The mansion gets remodeled with a spa, home theater and guest house. The new characters each have a "special power" to help them solve the mystery more quickly, and there's an extra deck of cards that can eliminate players.

The wrench, lead pipe and revolver are being replaced with different weapons, and more of them: a pistol, poison, an ax, a baseball bat and a dumbbell are among the additions. (The candlestick remains.)

Daviau explains the choices: "Would this really be in a Hollywood mansion setting? Would someone have a lead pipe lying around?"

Some say that isn't the point.

"The game isn't the same without the lead pipe," Chapman says. "That was always my favorite weapon."

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