These New Board Games Make Family Game Night More Like ‘Mission Impossible’
They transform family game night into an espionage thriller.
Freeing yourself from handcuffs. Breaking into an impenetrable vault. Saving your captured teammate from evil villains. All three scenarios may sound like scenes from a Mission Impossible movie, but they’re not. Well, they may be, but they’re also specific missions players must complete to win one of Yulu’s three new table-top Spy Code games: Break Free, Safe Breaker, and Operation Escape Room. They hit the market this summer and, although sold separately, when played together can turn family game night into an epic evening of Ethan Hunt-inspired espionage.
Taking cues from the recent success of table games like Pie Face and Toilet Trouble, Spy Code is a series of interactive games that combine problem-solving, puzzles, and strategy with physical challenges like picking a fake lock or cracking a safe. They’re designed for kids age 6 and up, can be played with one to four players, and include varying levels of difficulty to help ensure the games don’t age faster than the actual kids.
Again, while each game is sold individually, we think they should be combined in the following order ⏤ and maybe played in teams ⏤ to complete the ultimate world-saving spy mission and/or kill an entire Saturday night without watching TV.
The goal is simple: Navigate the maze inside the lock using the accompanying “lock pick” and free yourself from the handcuffs. Players get points for their Houdini-like speed and the player with the most after three rounds wins. Each set of handcuffs comes with twelve unique mazes (in three difficulty levels) ⏤ they pop in and out ⏤ so the game gets harder each round. And if you’ve got a kid who can’t for the life of them figure it out, there’s an emergency release on the back so they won’t spend the night handcuffed to their older brother.
Once freed from the cuffs, it’s time to crack the code on the safe and recover the stolen diamonds and gold. To do that, you have to plug a number into the electronic safe, touch the “fingerprint” button, and listen through the spy stethoscope for a top secret clue ⏤ namely, whether your number was too high or too low. Using mathematical deduction skills and memory, players eventually figure out the combination and grab the gold.
Operation Escape Room
For this game, players must complete three puzzle challenges ⏤ skill, strategy, and luck ⏤ to get the keys needed to free their friend from the admittedly bomb-like timer to which they’re strapped. For example, the dexterity/motor skills challenge involves removing a key from a small cage using a couple of sticks. All told, gameplay takes around 30 to 40 minutes.
Now, if you want to make things even more interesting, Yulu also sells a similar-but-unrelated game named Bomber Bob. It’s unclear whether the FBI tracks the purchase of pretend bombing games but the goal is to diffuse the dynamite before it explodes. This game’s actually made for kids 4 and up, so you can task the smallest hands with saving the room from being blown to pieces.
Break Free and Safe Breaker cost $20 each while Operation Escape Room runs around $30. All three are currently available online.