Monopoly is the quintessential image that’s conjured whenever “board games” are mentioned. It’s a point of contention for a great many, particularly those that consider themselves “in” the hobby. The issues with it are that it has very little strategy, is convolutedly long and irritatingly frustrating at times. It’s not a good game, but it’s the game everyone played and therefore is the standard for those not familiar with more modern offerings. For this reason, board game enthusiasts tend to shun off the Monopoly name entirely, being justified in their cautious attitude towards the franchise simply because of the vast number of simple reskins that are produced every year. Enter Monopoly Gamer. A Mario themed version of the game that switches up elements that make Standard Monopoly so hated.
It’s played on a modified monopoly board, with modified dice and modified character each with their own ability. Players select their favorite character from the Mushroom Kingdom (or wherever Donkey Kong is from) and places it on “go”. Players roll the dice. One of which is a standard movement die and the other that is a power die. This indicates which special power they’ll get to use for their turn. They could get to throw a turtle shell making another player drop coins on the board, pick up three coins, steal coins or generally do other nasty things that affect the state of coins in the game. As the shells fly, players drop their hard earned money onto the board, the next player to cross that space picks them up, and so the beautiful and fickle economy of the Mario universe has entered the board game realm. Each character also has two special abilities. One of which is activated by one of the faces of the action die and another that activates when a player lands on a star.
Spaces can also be bought like in regular monopoly, the difference is that there are no houses, no hotels and when you “mortgage” a space, it goes right back to the bank for potential re-sale.
The biggest change has to be the boss battles. Each time a player passes “GO” they collect two coins and activate a boss battle. Depending on the amount of players you have this could be anywhere between 6 and 8. The player that passed go has an opportunity to pay a certain amount of coins to attempt to beat the boss. If they pay, they roll the movement die and try to match a certain threshold. If they succeed, they get the boss card which is worth end game points and also take the special bonus action associated with it. If they fail or pass, the next player may pay to attempt to fight the boss. This continues until either someone beats the boss or all players pass. If this happens, the boss meanders off the board and is never heard from again. In this way, The bosses act as a timer mechanism so “go” is only ever crossed the number of times that there are players x two and then the game ends. at the end of the game, players count up properties, coins and defeated bosses creating a final score. Highest score wins.
This game is only slightly more than a simple roll and move. There is a rice-paper thin veneer of strategy that only rarely pokes it’s head. It’s still got that stupid Monopoly branding that gamers tend to hate and you’re still buying property and collecting rent. The characters have special powers, but sometimes they’re useless and sometimes they’re overpowered. Boo is going to be far more useful in a 4 player game than Tanooki suit Mario. Oh, do those characters sound cool? Too bad, they don’t come in the base game. You can buy them for $4 a pop from gamestop, that is if you can find them since the vultures are currently out in droves to make a quick buck. You might get lucky and find them on e-bay for 4x their MSRP. And there’s 8 extra characters and bound to be more. You can certainly wrack up a pretty large debt for a glorified shiny children’s game and STILL might not be able to find Wario! Thankfully, this IS getting a wider distribution soon so prices should fall and merchandise should rise. Sure, most of the components are nice, but the property and character cards are pretty terrible. Thin cardstock with non-rounded edges. It’s a minor gripe, but seeing as I have the collector’s edition I expected more.
Oh, yes. I have the collector’s edition. You see, unlike the majority ( and by that I mean the loudest) gamers, I somewhat enjoy Monopoly and have a hankering to play every decade or so. It was a right of passage for me as a child. I graduated from playing Cooties, Ants in the pants and Candy Land by stepping up to the big table playing Monopoly with my older siblings and parents. It was the first truly competitive, cutthroat gaming experience and I loved it. There is a strong sense of nastolgia for vanilla monopoly and that’s why, even though I rarely have a desire to play it now, I don’t hate it, I don’t completely shun the idea of sitting down and exploring what it is a hate about each of my loved ones through the slow process of financial devastation. I mean, I ALWAYS played as the thimble. Why do you think the channel name is “Plumpy Thimble?” Look, it’s in the logo! I I also have very fond memories of the Super Mario games. Set me in front of Super Mario Brothers 1,2 or 3 and I will react with muscle memory to fly through the levels (sometimes literally). Now, two very big influences in my early life have been combined and given an overhaul? And it plays in 30-50 minutes? And it has beautiful components? And it feels like Mario Party and Mario Kart? Yeah, I’ll give that a shot. The miniature characters are detailed, the coins in this version are made of plastic giving you a tactile experience that’s WAY better than paper money and the winning by points rather than by knocking all other opponents out of the game is a WAY better fit. I can have a concentrated dose of the few elements that I enjoy about Monopoly with a weird dash of mario party thrown in. Guess what? It’s a game almost everyone can relate to. Everyone knows monopoly and everyone knows Mario party and this is a simple version of both that can be taught in minutes. The components are fantastic. You’re tossing those little gold coins around and picking them up. Oh, and the rulebook itself is clear and concise with illustrations telling you exactly what to do. Also, it’s so soft and smooth I’m not certain that it’s made from the skin of a super pig.
- The theme is attached with glee. The miniatures and power up die make this feel like a mario game.
- Short play time is perfect for a light game like this.
- The experience (for me) was a blast. Despite it’s lack of depth, I had a lot of fun with this.
- The big “Monopoly” branding is glaring and annoying.
- It’s still a very light roll and move game.
- The decisions you have to make are never all that interesting.
Look, it’s not a perfect game. It’s not even a great game. But, like many lighter offerings in this hobby, the players make or break it. The reason I, as well as a number of other people, enjoy this is because it offers a high level of nostalgia that is shared by all players. There’s a good natured take-that element that’s been present in the Mario franchise for 30 years. Oh, yeah and it’s fun! So there you have it. If it sounds terrible, just ignore it and let me have fun enjoying Monopoly.