Taboo
Box Shot
Taboo
Platform: NES
Publisher: Tradewest
Designer: RARE
Genre: Tarot Card (??)
Players: Technically 1
Published Date 1989
Reviewed by: Rob Strangman

N/A

The NES was, in my opinion, the greatest system ever created. Not only could you play some of the greatest games ever made (Castlevania, Gradius, Bionic Commando. . . need I go on?), but nearly any kind of game that you could possibly want was out on the NES. Want to wheel and deal on Wall Street? Get Wall Street Kid. Want to save the embassy from terrorists? There's Rescue: The Embassy Mission. Want to have your fortune told through Tarot cards? Get Taboo The Sixth Sense.

Yep, I'm serious. Taboo is a Tarot card reading simulator! But that's not all - Taboo will also give you fortune numbers for the lottery (customizable for your state)! What surprised me was that Rare (makers of the Wizards and Warriors series, as well as R.C. Pro-Am, Cobra Triangle and various other games) was the company to come up with Taboo. Interesting, to say the least.

For those of you that don't know about Tarot cards, they're considered the ancestors of our current deck of cards. Tarot decks are split into two divisions: Major Arcana and Minor Arcana. The Major Arcana consists of Fool, Magician, High Priestess, Empress, Emperor, Hierophant, Lovers, Chariot, Justice, Hermit, Wheel Of Fortune (hopefully no relation to the TV show), Strength, Hanged Man, Death, Temperance, Devil, Tower, Star, Moon, Sun, Judgment, and World. The Minor Arcana is divided into four suites. Each suite is split up into King, Queen, Knight, and Page, then 10 through 2, and finally the Ace (as you can see, this is where the similarities to our current deck comes in). The four suites are Staffs, Swords, Coins and Cups. To go into detail about what each card means would require a small book (which is exactly what the Taboo instruction book is), and I really don't think I have enough space to go into detail.

Playing Taboo is simple enough. Enter you first name, birthdate and sex, then enter a yes or no question. From there, sit back and watch the game shuffle, deal and read the cards to you. After the cards have all been read, you get your fortune numbers and the game is over. Simple, huh?>[? The people who created Taboo obviously took their work very seriously. Here's the opening prologue to the instruction book:
"IMPORTANT NOTICE. TABOO IS NOT INTENDED FOR CHILDREN UNDER THE AGE OF 14 YEARS, AND THEN MAY ONLY BE USED IF PARENTAL GUIDANCE AND ADVICE IS FREELY AVAILABLE AT ALL TIMES DURING THE PRODUCT USE. TABOO IS OFFERED FOR CURIOSITY VALUE ONLY, NO MYSTICAL OR MAGICAL CLAIMS ARE GUARANTEED OR INFERRED. ALL POSSIBLE CARE HAS BEEN TAKEN TO ENSURE THAT TABOO INCORPORATES ALL OF THE ANCIENT MAGICAL SYMBOLIC REFERENCES AND TRADITIONS ASSOCIATED WITH THIS TYPE OF PRODUCT AND FOLLOWS THE AUTHENTIC TECHNIQUE TO OUR OWN KNOWLEDGE AND EXPERIENCE OF THE METHOD OF DIVINATION OF THE KINGS. NO RESPONSIBILITY IS ACCEPTED IN ANY FORM WHATSOEVER RELATING TO TABOO AND ANY SUCH EFFECTS INFLUENCES OR MIRACLES INCURRED INFERRED DIVULGED RESULTING OR DIRECTLY CONNECTED WITH TABOO WHATSOEVER. FOR ENTERTAINMENT ONLY. USE TABOO AT YOUR OWN RISK. TABOO SHOULD NOT BE PURCHASED BY MINORS UNDER THE AGE OF 14 YEARS OF AGE
(no, that is NOT a typo!)."

Okay. Well, I've already thought of my first question for Taboo: Are the people that came up with Taboo still employed by Rare?

The graphics, such as they are, are done quite well. There's even a few interesting background effects that occur when the cards are dealt. The cards themselves are all presented in a 3-D form, which is a nice effect. Each card even has it's own theme music, which is all typical Rare music (and Rare has always had some decent music in their games). Warning: certain themes WILL be played over and over and over. . .

The question: Should you buy Taboo? Well, it depends. If you are a diehard adventure fan (or shooter, or RPG, or whatever else) then pass this over; it'll bore you to tears. However, if you're looking for a party game (and I really don't know too many people who break out their NES at a party and go "Let's play a game" - not unless it's a kid's birthday party, and Taboo isn't exactly recommended for kids) or you just want something completely unique for the NES (which was my case) then Taboo might interest you.

Hmmm - maybe you should ask Taboo. . .