Love Yahtzee and Clue? Try out these family friendly variations for something new on game night.

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We’re big fans of classic toys and games. But we’re also big fans of new tweaks on those classics.

This week we review several clever updates to games you know well.

Cat Crimes (Think Fun) ($15 at Remember the classic Clue game? You know, the one where you use logic and deductive reasoning to figure out who committed a murder? In this single-player game, you’ll use the same basic skill set — analyzing paw prints, toy placement and other clues.

Cards give important details, such as the fact that Ginger was sitting in front of the birdcage and that Tom Cat was to Ginger’s right. By determining where each cat was sitting at the time of the crime, you’ll eventually be able to finger the feline that committed such dastardly offenses as coughing up a hairball or swallowing your goldfish. Ages 8 and up.

Cats & Kittens (Laurence King) ($15 at Unlike traditional matching games, in which have you put together identical pairs, or less-traditional games that have you put together two halves of an animal or object, this one has you match an adult cat with its kitten. The game features 25 breeds, including Russian Blue, Bombay, Tonkinese, LaPerm and British Shorthair. Ages 5 and up.

Fanzy (Masterpieces) ($22 at This one’s a little like Yahtzee, in that you roll dice and try to match what’s on one of the 20 challenge cards. It comes in three sports-themed versions: hockey, football and baseball, each of which includes dice with logos of all the teams in their respective leagues.

It’s a fun, fast-paced game (takes only about eight minutes to play). For two to four players, ages 6 and up.

Laser Chess (Think Fun) ($40 at OK, this isn’t exactly traditional chess, but it uses some of the same spatial, logic, reasoning and strategy skills. And the object is the same: knock out your opponent’s king.

Laser Chess, $40
Laser Chess, $40

Instead of capturing pieces in the traditional way, you use lasers to do your dirty work. Players take turns moving mirrored pieces around the board.

At the end of his or her turn, the player fires a real laser, which bounces from mirror to mirror. If the beam hits a non-mirrored piece, boom, that piece is out. Hit your opponent’s king and you win.

It’s simple enough to be learned quickly, challenging enough to have won a MENSA award, and fun for everyone. For two players, ages 8 and up.

Shadows in the Forest (Think Fun) ($25 at Think flashlight tag, but without the risk of tripping over a tree root or running into an actual raccoon. The goal is to locate Shadowlings, mysterious creatures who hide in the forest and shun the light. One player is the Seeker; the rest of the players are the Shadowlings.

While the Seeker’s eyes are closed, the Shadowlings hide behind trees and various other obstacles on the game board. The lights are turned out and the Seeker opens his or her eyes, rolls a die, and moves a lantern through the forest. If the lantern illuminates a Shadowling, it’s frozen in place until it can be unfrozen by another Shadowling. If all the Shadowlings can gather together in one dark hiding place, they win.

But if the Seeker can illuminate the whole bunch at the same time, it’s game over for the Shadowlings. Playing in the dark adds a fun, unique, immersive element to this semi-cooperative game. For two to seven players, ages 8 and up.