Updated: May 23
My family usually does a good job with celebrating Mother's Day. Last year they created an entire afternoon tea, from scratch. This year, they leveled up again with a very unique experience: a virtual murder mystery around Tokyo.
I've been watching 'Murder, She Wrote' since I was a very young child. I still have DVD's of all 12 seasons and the TV movies. I LOVE this show, adore Angela Lansbury, and when my husband suggested we sign up for CluedUpp Games" Jack the Ripper" murder mystery game back in March I giddily signed our family up.
Are you unfamiliar with CluedUpp? If you're on Facebook you might know who they are-their advertisements are seen pretty often-but in case you don't, CluedUpp is the world’s biggest outdoor detective adventure. Through technology, over 1200 towns and cities in more than 51 countries worldwide have been transformed into settings for fun and intrigue. Costumes are encouraged.
It's all done virtually-meaning you use an app on your phone to find your informants and suspects as well as chase down the clues. It's pretty nice for COVID times.
We decided to dress as the four main characters from 'Murder, She Wrote' : Sheriff Amos Tupper, Dr. Seth Hazlitt, and nephew Grady Fletcher. You now what that means y'all! I got to be J.B. Fletcher and it was a dream come true!
Look at that intensity! That double strand of pearls, the flashlight, the on point J.B. Fletcher ensemble and THE WIG! I ROCKED my moment in Jessica Fletcher's shoes, and my family were such amazing sports. Even Shannon-who avoids wearing costumes like the plague-wore one and was all for it.
We had a blast! There were some initial hiccups as we learned how to use the app, but overall it was really fun and a great experience. We've already decided to do it again the next time we're together, but as the cast of 'Castle'. IYKYK.
Now for my review. Much as I loved it, like I said, there were hiccups and observations I took away from the experience.
The sign up fee for a team of 2-6 people is around $60.
These games are not always in play, they're set for several times a year so it keeps the crowding to a minimum. Go here to see if there's one near you or one coming up!
It is a fun family activity, though they recommend anyone under 16 be accompanied by an adult. Jackson was a pro at it!
ClueddUp provides wonderfully detailed emails explaining the game, how it's played, how to activate the app the morning of your game, how to register.
The actual game is not all over a city, but within the parameters of one area. For Tokyo, it was a 5 block radius within Shinjuku.
It is completely virtual, meaning you have no contact with anyone outside of your group.
You get to make up your team name. We were J.B. Fletcher's Catchers!
There are riddles and small puzzles to solve in the app, and that was fun. My children are definitely smarter than me.
You can begin as early as 9 AM and take as much time as you need as long as you finish by 5 PM
The "Leader" position can be switched between teammates if others want a turn
You'll see others playing the game-easily identifiable by their costumes. This particular group helped us find a suspect spot and took our picture by the police box. Super nice and very helpful!
There are prizes, but they're fun little things for best group costume, first finished, etc.
Since you can't access the game portion of the app until 9 AM the morning of your game, you can't look ahead to figure out how to use it. The app isn't too bad, but the map is a little confusing initially. For people who get easily frustrated, you may want someone else to be the leader of your group.
Tokyo specific: the location services were spotty initially. For the app to work and you to enjoy the game, you need them switched on so you can follow the markers on the map from one place to another. If you don't have them on you can't interview your virtual suspects or pick up clues. For the first 15 minutes or so we were some frustrations while the app caught up to where we were. There were quite a few times when we just stopped and stood in place until it did. Eventually it all smoothed out, it could have been the area we were in, but be aware, it could happen.
Tokyo specific: the location. The game was played in and around several blocks surrounding Hotel Gracery in Shinjuku. If you know that area you know it's host to lots of pachinko parlors, strip clubs, etc. Don't go play at 9 AM if you have kids playing the game with you. There will lines waiting for the parlors to open, drunk people milling about, and we experienced the joy of someone peeing against a wall. I didn't even see it-I was too busy heading to a building to take pictures-but I was told it happened.
The con list has a lot more detail to it than the pro's but these are things I feel are good to be aware of, even if it's mostly Tokyo specific. I'm sure it'll vary from location to location.
I cannot thank my family enough for giving me the most on point gift for Mother's Day. Even though we had to wait to enjoy it, it was enjoyed. Thoroughly. Reunited, in costume, we worked and played together on Madeline's first day out of quarantine. It was a fabulous way to spend the morning together and a great way to kick off a week long vacation.
And we're off for a new adventure! Okinawa, here we come!