Nintendo

Monopoly Review

Monopoly LogoThe first Monopoly game produced under the EA-Hasbro partnership is a bare-bones affair. The classic core gameplay is intact and we are introduced to the fast-paced Richest Mode, however there is little to justify the game’s $40 price point.

Monopoly
starts with two boards available to play on; the Classic board we grew up with and an all-new board based on the Here and Now: World Edition issued earlier in 2008. There are seven additional themed boards for players to unlock, complete with unique player tokens. Read More...

The themed boards, like a futuristic one and another based on the world of sweet deserts all have 3D backgrounds behind the play board to give a unique flavour, but these boards also suffer from inexplicable performance issues when player tokens are moving around the board. The frame rate stutters and skips on every board except the Classic one. This issue makes an already slow game even slower.

A standard game of Monopoly takes about two hours. The game is always played with four players, either human or CPU controlled. Though not an issue when playing with four humans, CPU turns are unskippable when playing alone or with one or two other friends. There are also no game speed options for players to adjust.

The Standard Monopoly Board

The game moves at an almost unbearably slow pace. Everything from rolling the dice to your disembodied token starting to move seems to hitch up and load for a couple seconds. Accessing the screen to manage properties takes at least 5 seconds to load. Not much on its own, but these times really add up over the course of the game and are especially annoying during CPU player turns.

Luckily you never have to actually finish a game to make progress in unlocking the nine game boards. Every time you obtain a game property through purchase or trading, it is added to a passport for the board you are playing on. When enough properties fill a passport, the next board is unlocked.

Even if you were to quit and save out of games upon completing passport goals, you’re looking at a solid 12 hours to unlock everything. I found that far too much time to invest for such an insignificant payoff. The theme boards are essentially useless and do nothing but introduce performance issues. I quit playing after about 6 hours.

Richest Mode is an all-new way to play found in this iteration of Monopoly. In this mode, players choose to play as a developer, industrialist or a tycoon. In Richest Mode, players start with no money. Dice are rolled and then all four players compete in a mini game to determine who gets to choose their die first.

A player is then randomly assigned property tokens according to their die number. A player’s worth is determined by the properties they own and if one lands on an opponent’s space, properties are traded instead of rent paid. Quite frankly, I found Richest Mode confusing, cheap and not very fun at all. A game lasts 6 rounds, which takes about 30 minutes.

One of the Terrible Mini-Games

These 30 minutes feel much longer, because the minigames at the beginning of each round are abhorrent; the worst I have ever had the displeasure of playing on Wii. There are 12 minigames in total, based on the names of Community Chest cards found in the game like “Get out of Jail” or “Your Xmas Fund Matures”. These minigames are short, have terrible controls and seem to run like a slideshow at 5 frames a second in some cases.

Monopoly does have a few positives going for it. The most obvious is that there is no setup or teardown of the board, pieces and money when you want to play. Also, this 4-player game can be played with one Wii Remote being passed around, making it easy to get a game going. There are 16 common “house rules” that can be tweaked as well, helping the game feel a bit more personalized to your play style.

The audio has a couple of nice touches too. Each themed board has a unique piece of music and every token emits a distinct sound from the Wii Remote speaker when it is that player’s turn. When playing on the Here and Now: World Edition board, the tune will change slightly to reflect the space a player lands on. An accordion flourish for Paris and a didgeridoo on Sydney’s space for example.

I have a hard time recommending this version of Monopoly to anyone. For the $40 asking price, you could get you or your family at least two real Monopoly editions, or a Monopoly edition and a whole other board game. There is no online play, the game suffers from needless performance problems and the new Richest Mode is ruined by terrible minigames.

Positives:

+ No setup or teardown of board, pieces and money
+ Tweakable house rules

Negatives:

- Needless performance issues
- No option to skip CPU turns or adjust game speed
- $40 price tag is unjustified
- Minigames are the worst found on Wii

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Game Forward score: 2/5


Brian J. Papineau > Game Forward

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Monopoly (Wii) Quick Facts:


Genre: Board Game
Developer: EA Casual Entertainment
Publisher: EA
Release Date: October 20, 2008
Price: $39.99 US/CAN
ESRB Rating: E (Everyone)