SORRY! CARD REVENGE (Parker Brothers, 2-4 players, ages 6 and up, about 30 minutes; $24.95)  

   Parker Brothers has been quite adept at taking an evergreen and branching out. Take Monopoly, for example. Not satisfied with seeming to occupy a spot in everyone's home, that perennial has sprouted a ton of offspring including Rich Uncle (a vintage gem dating back to 1946 - and featured in the Spring 2001 GA REPORT) to Advance to Boardwalk (Winter 1987 GA REPORT) to the Monopoly Card Game (Summer 2000 GA REPORT). Now, another Parker classic - Sorry! - adds another spin-off to its pedigree: Sorry! Card Revenge.

   The game comes in a large blister pack. As befitting a card game, we are given a deck of 113 cards and, as we've come to know from its parent game, 16 pawns in four colors. But there is a little something extra: a giant red pawn (about six inches tall!) that talks to you!

   The red pawn is placed in the center of the play area. Each player receives a circular "Home Board" and four pawns of the matching color and is dealt a hand of five cards. The top card of the draw pile is turned over to form a discard pile. Each time you can discard all the cards you hold, you move one of your pawns to your Home Board. Be the first player to get all four pawns home and you win. Seems simple - and it is. But that talking pawn exists to make your life difficult.

   On a turn, a player has two choices: play a card to the discard pile or, if unable to do that, tap the big red pawn and follow its instructions.

   Card play is straightforward but with a few twists. In playing one of your cards, you can discard ONE card if it matches the color of the top card on the discard pile (e.g. a blue 9 on a blue 6) OR play a string of cards in a rising numerical sequence without regard to color (e.g. on a blue 9, play a red 10, a green 11 etc.). Some cards have "special powers". Any played number 2 card gives you another turn; any number 11 allows you to swap hands with any other player, an extremely useful option if you're stuck with a handful and a competitor is down to a few. Your final turn choice is to play ONE Wild Card.

   Wild Cards come in 3 varieties. Slide Cards allow you to dump all of your cards of that one color. Slide cards come in all four colors of the game (red, yellow, green and blue) and you can play the card on top of ANY color. The catch? You have to play at least one numbered card of a matching color on top of it. (If the Slide Card is the last card in your hand, the NEXT player must match that color - or play another Wild Card.)

   Safety Zone Wild Cards are playable on any card but ends your turn. The Sorry! Wild Cards may also be played on any card but the bonus here is that YOU choose which other player MUST tap the Big Red Pawn.

   The Big Red Pawn is not your friend. Usually, it requires you to take more cards - and the voice seems to enjoy giving you problems. We've seen this technology before - The Omega Virus (Fall 1993 GA REPORT), for example, but this time, the taunting voice is more good-natured - but still an obstacle for you to overcome.

   Sorry! Card Revenge melds the vintage play of Sorry! with a touch of modern technology - and the combination works. The variety of cards might be a little too much for the small fry that seem to be the target group (although there are four "Quick Rules" cards to help players remember what to do). To make the game more freewheeling, you can try the variant where numerical runs can go DOWN as well as up. And be careful! In the freewheeling spirit of the game, the Big Red Pawn will get pounded. It's resilient but not invincible. Go easy on it.

   Sorry! Card Revenge is not a brain burner. Long term planning - even short term planning - is not going to happen here. Control is at a minimum and serious gamers will need to look elsewhere. On the other hand, it's fast, frenetic and fun; it works! And what's wrong with that? Chalk this one up to one of life's - and gaming's - guilty pleasures. - - - -  Herb Levy