Pros: nothing to clean up, lots of options
Cons: but not enough useful options, game progresses slowly, the computer makes dumb decisions
The Same Old Monopoly
I like a good game of monopoly. However, just playing with the original rules all the time can get to be very boring. I like to play with the Beyond Boardwalk rules, which spice up the action quite a bit. I got this game thinking that on such an advanced platform (as compared to the NES and Gameboy) this might enable more customization to design a better and more enjoyable game. Well, I was wrong. This game offers little more than a graphical facelift and a few more options to the same monopoly video game they've been shipping out for the past 10 years or so.
There are certain advantages to video game monopoly. You don't have to clean up and put away a board, payment calculations are done automatically. There are no fears of missing pieces. It turns a game that might take 2-3 hours into only about an hour just in terms of the little stuff like this. It also lets you unwind and enjoy monopoly through a quick game rather than a drawn out one that lasts all night. Don't get me wrong, when playing with friends, I prefer the real physical version because it lets you bond better with friends or family. My wife and I used to take the monopoly board up to my in-laws and play until midnight on the weekends. I used to do the same in high school with my friends. It's something that just can't be recreated from a video game. However, if you're the only one in your family who likes monopoly, a game like this might be the only way for you to get your "fix".
First of all let me be the first one to welcome you to earth. Just kidding. I had a friend in college who had only heard of Monopoly, but never knew what it was all about. The object of Monopoly is to bankrupt the other players. This is done as you move your token around a game board and purchasing property. If someone lands on your purchased property, you can collect rent from him or her. If you are able to acquire all the properties of a single color group, you may purchase houses and later a hotel for each property. This increases the rent people have to pay when they land on it exponentially. There are other spaces on the board besides properties such as Jail, Free Parking, community chest, chance, and various tax spaces. I won't go into the specifics of these spaces, instead I'll leave it to you to figure those out. They add a wrinkle to the game, but the purpose and object remains the same.
What Does This Game Feature?
Modern video game Monopoly has many common features. It offers you a traditional game by traditional tournament rules. This means, no money on free parking, no building houses on top of hotels. It's pretty much the exact interpretation of the rules which come with the board game version. There are typically other preset game situations you can play too. This is where each player gets a certain amount of money and property in such a way that each player has an equal footing in the game. These conditions might allow them to build quickly, facilitate trading, or wait to build up enough money to build. In this version you have many more features too. You can customize the rules to further your liking. For instance you can add a certain reward for landing on Free Parking or the Go Square. Jail can be more restrictive as well as spaces that charge you for taxes. There are even preset rules such as American and International. You can even customize the board (assign property, money and token starting positions) before the start too, creating a handicap for certain players. Another way to customize the game is that you can even control how smart or dumb the computer is with regards to how they play the game.
The sound and graphics are both very well done. However, this is also Monopoly too, so I don't think that great graphics and sound are nessesary as long as you know the game. There are tons of options that create tons of replay value. You have many preset situations to play through, or you can create your own. It's up to you.
What Are Its Shortcomings?
All these features are well and good, but they don't add anything to this game. If anything they prolong it to the point where the game might start to diverge (where everyone gains money at such a fast rate that no one will ever go bankrupt). Even though you can set the computer intelligence, it still has the tendency to make dumb decisions, the type that even a beginner would never think of doing. It really gives you the feel that you're not really playing another person. For instance, my mother-in-law is a typical monopoly rookie. She buys up as much as possible without regard for her situation (you normally buy as much as possible, but not in all situations), and when she gets a monopoly she sits on it without building houses because she's waiting for an insane amount of money to buy the houses and still have lots of money in the bank. This is how most rookie players play monopoly. However, you just can't replicate this with the computer intelligence settings. This really should have been done, but it's a big shortfall.
Another problem with the game, as I mentioned earlier, the customization is shallow. You can't create your own custom rules. You can't change the dice. You can't reassign property and rent values. You can't force people to sell their property instead of mortgage. You can't change or add cards or add new card piles to certain squares. There are great variations on monopoly that are really fun to play, but you can't recreate it on this video game. It's a real shame too. When you try and alter the board to try and create a better, more competitive game, the computer players have a hard time adjusting to the new conditions. All around this game really lacks a refinement and limits itself to monopoly beginners, not enthusiasts.
Finally, games don't progress as quickly as other video game monopolies. There are so many graphics for token movement, chance/community chest cards, and other spaces that it slows down the game. At first, these graphics might be interesting and amusing, especially for young kids, but after a few games, or just a very long one, they tend to really become annoying ... like waiting for a webpage to load. My opinion on this is to either have an option to turn off all animations (or tone them down) or even better, just tone them down and concentrate on more customization options.
I am now really thinking of selling this game on Ebay because it's a real waste of my money. Instead I'll pick up the Nintendo version, or just stick to the one for Gameboy. Yeah, you can't customize them as much, but neither can you on this one. Better yet, maybe we'll fire up the monopoly board this weekend.