By Ferry "Sadhonker" Adams on February 28, 2019
As a kid, growing up in the 80's, there were just some things you needed to have. But alas, no matter how much you begged, pleaded or even threatened your parents with total and utter disobedience, some things just managed to stay out of reach. Then, many, many years later, you're leisurely strolling through a flea market when a vision of the past catches your eye. No. can it be. is it really. after all these years? Okay, how much? Two Euro?! Shut up and take this ludicrously small amount of my money!
You carefully transport the much coveted box home and carefully lift the lid, only to be stared at by a creepy skull! The only thing preventing you from leaping through the nearest window in absolute terror is the fact that the skull is only about one inch in diameter. and made from glow in the dark plastic. After carefully inspecting all the bits and pieces, you begin the painstaking construction of a haunted castle. The axe is put in place, the coffin lid opened and the wobbly floor is thoroughly checked for its wobblyness! You sit back and look at the very thing you could never get when you were a child, but is finally in your possession after all those long, long years. Behold, mortal; the now classic board game of Ghost Castle!
Ghost Castle is known by many names around the world. Here in the Netherlands, it is commonly known as Spookslot. The game first saw the light of day in 1970 under the name "Which Witch?" and was made for the American market. In this original version, the game had (as one might suspect from its name) a more witch oriented theme then its later released international counterparts. The parts of the game board were almost all made out of cardboard and tended to wear fairly quickly. Players needed to roll the dice and draw cards and follow the actions on them. The game also featured a "Whammy ball" which, when thrown down the central column, randomly triggered one of the traps on the board. Some cards turned the players into mice, which meant they'd have to exchange their character for a small mouse figurine and couldn't move until they were turned back into a kid.
When the game was released internationally, the title changed per country, as did the theme. Some international versions quickly added a high quality plastic central staircase and turned the theme around to give the game a more haunted house quality. The whammy ball was replaced by a glow-in-the-dark skull, "Scared Guy" masks (also made from glow-in-the-dark material) were added to replace the mice and the cards were replaced by a cardboard and plastic spinner (Which I personally like to think of as the Wheel of Misfortune). The entire game board was repainted and restyled into the classic Ghost Castle quite a lot of us have come to know and love.
So, Ghost Castle; what is it all about. Well, it's one of the easier games out there and you don't have to memorize a plethora of rules, which makes the game ideal for kids. The story, if there actually is one, is that you're part of a group of four brave teen explorers who have set out on an adventure in a nearby haunted house. To break the spell the house is under, the lid of the coffin in the central tower must be closed. Now, while this sounds easy enough, there are actually dangers you must brave along the way. While making your way through the rooms of the mansion, you'll have to watch out for traps that, while never fatal, will inhibit your progress. The first adventurer to reach and close the coffin wins the game, as well as the honor of being the savior of. well, the rest of the explorers, presumably.
As you start your adventure, every player is given a adventure character and a Scared Guy mask. After deciding who goes first, the players each take turns in a clockwise fashion. The game board is divided in four rooms with a path of multi-colored footsteps showing the route that must be taken. First, you throw the dice to see how many steps you may walk. After this, you'll have to spin the Wheel of Misfortune and perform any action the arrow points to. The wheel had a total of twelve spaces printed on it in a circular spider web fashion. The spaces were divided into four different actions:
When the skull in cast down the central staircase, players who are currently on a red foot icon run the risk of being hit by one of four traps. The four traps (one per room are: a axe that falls down, hitting the player, a wobbly piece of floor, a dancing skeleton and the skull rolling down the creaky staircase. When a player is on a red foot icon and is hit by one of these traps, he or she must go back to the last blue foot icon they've crossed and continue their journey from there. If you're accidentally hit by a trap while not on a red foot icon, you're no worse for wear and may place your character back on the foot icon that you were on before getting hit. After resolving the sustained "damage", all traps are reset and the next player may take his or her turn.
Besides the traps, the skull may also activate a secret mirror door. When this happens and one of the players is currently on the green foot icons next to the mirror, he or she must immediately pass through the door and put his or her character on the green foot icon in the adjacent room. The game ends when one of the adventurers reaches the top of the staircase and closes the coffin's lid. The evil that haunted the house is put back in its box and the ancient rooms are safe once more...
...until next time, that is!
Playing Ghost Castle is, in my opinion, still heaps of fun. You shouldn't expect a monumental challenge or even very intricate gameplay. Instead, why not be a kid again for the next 45 minutes and simply have fun? If you happen to have this game, it's ideal to play together with your kids and while away those uneventful evenings when there's nothing even remotely good on TV (which, to be honest, seems to be an increasingly more common issue these days). Ghost Castle is a really fun game that is nothing more or less than straight forward, simple and honest fun for the entire family!
Published: 1985 (Milton Bradley English version) / 1970 (Original Which Witch? version)
Designer: N/A Players: 2 - 4 players, ages 6 & up
Playtime: approx. 45 minutes