Trick or Treat??

I learned a very valuable lesson this past Halloween…

Back when DVD was a new technology, they used to play infomercials on late night TV trying to convince the masses that life couldn’t continue without a DVD player. In the infomercial the dad from Happy Days would show you how DVDs have multiple angles, and could instantly change tracks to different sequences like a CD. He made mention that those combined technologies would allow DVD makers to produce games for DVD players. Games? He was right, my life couldn’t go on without DVD. I did everything in my power to get a DVD player for Christmas. I started leaving Post-its on the fridge and taped to the TV screen saying “DVD player for Christmas! Don’t forget! Love you!”. It worked. It was a light year for presents but there was an RCA DVD player and a few movies under the tree.

It didn’t matter that my TV had a note on the back from a repair shop that said “Last checked: Aug. 1985” or that it had no inputs other than coaxial cable. It didn’t even matter that there were zero games for DVD players at the time, and none in the pipeline. All that mattered was that tiny thought in the back of my head that eventually games would roll out and I would be the first kid on the block to have them.

I’ve been waiting for more than 10 years for some games on DVD. Dragon’s Lair and some old FMV arcade games came out on DVD a few years ago but they really didn’t do it for me. None of them were brand new games built from the ground up for DVD players like the ones I had been dreaming about for the last decade. Dragons Liar is as old as that old wood-encased TV that used to be in my bedroom.

This past October the dollar store finally served me up what I had been waiting for. But was it a trick or a treat?


Halloween is my absolute favorite holiday and the Dollar Tree is a great place to pick up candy, decorations and decor for any parties you many be wanting to throw. This year I wanted to buy one of those DVDs with all the scary sound effects and music to play while I hand out candy to the ghouls and ghosts that come trick or treating at my door. I came across something stocked amongst the movies. It was an interactive, full-motion-video, multiplayer game on DVD. The game is called Murder Mystery Party Game: A Stab in the Dark. I instantly picked it up and read the back. It said:

The Unique New DVD Party Game –

Any number can play! There’s a body in room 101 and everyone has an alibi! Can you solve it?

Use your TV remote to – Examine the crime scene, visit the Coroner, interrogate the suspects! Full interactivity with navigational menus and live action video. Works on any DVD playing device. Comes with full color clue book.

I only had a couple dollars on me so I had to put the headphones I was going to buy back on the shelf (Sorry wife, I guess it’s going to be a couple more days of you having weird World War 2 dreams because I play Medal of Honor: Heroes on my PSP in bed. Love you!). I took it right home and popped it in the DVD player.


After spending about an hour searching for clues, interrogating suspects and piling together my evidence, I was ready to make an arrest. I solved the case and felt pretty good about myself.

After we solved the case my buddies wife said “Let’s play again! I cant wait to see who did it this time!” But knowing that someone would want to play it again I had already put the DVD away and gotten Game Party 3 for the Wii all ready to go. After a few games of Horseshoes and Ski Ball, everyone all but forgot about the murder.I invited a few people over last weekend for a couples Halloween party game night, headlined by A Stab in the Dark. As we started taking turns playing, I realized that everything seemed to be exactly the same as it was the first time I played. The same clues, the same interrogations, the same evidence. The only thing different was the order we were doing everything in. That’s when I realized, this game has only one ending. No matter how many times I restart it or try to do things differently I will always come to the same guilty party, with the same motive for murder. In fact this wasn’t really a game at all, it was nothing more then a poorly produced, badly acted, extremely short movie with little actual interaction. Luckily, everyone else was playing through it for the first time so they all enjoyed themselves quite a bit.


The lesson in all this? No matter if it’s the dad from Happy Days, Bill Cosby or Sgt. Slaughter himself, don’t listen to stars from the 80s — DVD players are not gaming machines!!



– Keith White Jr.

Follow Me @KeefWhiteJr