Will Romine writes:
Hello, Pals! Nintendo and Monopoly had a baby. Hasbro delivered that baby to my doorstep a few weeks back. Like all babies, it was a blessing. However, unlike the other times I've found abandoned babies, I didn't have to call child services. Instead, I got to keep this one! Plus, it came with chocolate coins!
Monopoly has long separated the patient from the impulsive. I can't count the number of times I've began a game of this perennial favorite, prepared for a low key evening with friends, only to flip the table hours later out of sheer frustration. Monopoly is a long game, and in this age of dwindling attention spans, winners must emerge quickly, or not at all. Thankfully, the mechanics of this game allow a single play session to wrap up in 30 minutes or so. Whereas classic Monopoly is a last-man-standing affair, Monopoly Gamer provides a definite endpoint.
Much like Monopoly Classic, the game begins with the selection of game tokens. In the original game, nobody wanted to be the thimble, but the pieces were all fundamentally the same. In this new version, each game token is bundled with special abilities. More on that later. The game comes with Mario, Donkey Kong, Princess Peach, and Yoshi. You can also buy blind-box booster packs with additional tokens. Hasbro was kind enough to include one with the game, yielding me an Fire Mario game piece.
Once everyone has selected their piece by highest roll of the dice, eeny meeny miney moe, knifepoint, or whatever house rules you practice, the game begins. Classic Monopoly includes two six-sided dice. This version contains a classic die and a special "power-up die", which enables each player to unlock a special power determined by their unique token. There is no figure that has significantly more power or a distinct advantage over other players. In other words, no thimble.
Along the way, you can purchase properties, collect and pay rent, and go to Jail. Standard Monopoly fare. Instead of classic Monopoly money, cardboard coins in one and five denominations are the currency of play. Things get interesting once you land on a Boss square, initiating a "Boss Challenge." When this happens, the player takes one of ten "Boss Cards." The player can then either attempt to defeat the boss through a certain dice roll, or pass it on to another player. The player who "defeats" the boss keeps the card. When Boss Cards run out, the game is over. Players then tabulate their coins, property values, and Boss Cards. Like in any game, except for hearts and golf, whoever has the moist points wins.
Overall, I dug the game. The mechanics incorporate the best features of Mario games and classic Monopoly, while avoiding the excesses of both. However, what made classic Monopoly infuriating is also its greatest asset. When you're knee-deep in a game of Monopoly and you've invested three hours with no end in sight, the stakes become real. The high of victory will carry you through the weekend, and the stench of defeat wafts from your pores for days. I didn't get that feeling from this version. If you're looking for a friendly game between pals, then Monopoly Gamer is for you. However, if war is what you seek, then best to stick with the classic version.