Wii Game Review: Monopoly Streets

As I have said before, my family loves playing board games, and rather obviously I am a big video game fan – something I share with my kids (my wife, not so much). So video-board games seem like an obvious attraction for us. Monopoly Streets is the latest one we have tried, involving family and friends once again to see how it compares to sitting around a table. Read on to find out!

The Hype:
Monopoly Streets reinvigorates the classic game of fortune in a whole new format. Explore the streets of your favorite town as you journey from the cheap motels of Baltic Avenue to the ritzy Boardwalk suites and more. Watch your fortunes rise and fall as your player headquarters change from a luxurious mansion to a dilapidated hut – and back, if you’re lucky. Feeling competitive? Use your street smarts to auction off your properties and break your rivals’ banks, or even challenge players worldwide in exciting online play. You set the standards with the opportunity to set and save house rules – play longer, shorter or whatever way you want. Play in classic game mode, explore new game twists in Monopoly City and Monument City or download extra themed boards and tokens online for changing adventures that keep you passing “Go” over and over again. Jump into the excitement of this classic game but watch out – once you reach the top, there’s nowhere to go but back down.

The Reality:

This review has been a long time coming, partly because I really wanted to give it a fair shot and not instantly dismiss it based on my experience with Hasbro Family Game Night 3.

In that case, I found that while the game package was a great value (cheaper than buying the games separately), the games themselves were much less fun than their board-game equivalents and in some cases removing the tactile aspects hurt the experience.

Monopoly is a different sort of game, where you are just moving around, buying properties, upgrading hotels, collecting money, and so on. It seemed to have a better chance of translating well to a video game.

And it IS better than Hasbro Family Game Night 3 … but that only starts to answer things.

At its core, this is the classic game of Monopoly. All of the locations are the same, the events are the same, and so on. If you just choose a classic game you will be playing Monopoly … but watching everything animated.

There are some cool options. You can choose a bunch of ‘house rules’ that will let you tailor the game to go by more quickly, or even last longer than the classic game. There is also a great integrated system that allows you to auction or trade properties as part of your turn. You also get to see how everyone is doing on an update screen that displays everyone’s net worth.

The game looks great on the Wii, and the animations are fun and lively and keep you engaged in the game as they provide personalities to inanimate objects you use as pieces. When you buy a property you celebrate, when you build you see construction, and when you land on someone else’s property … well, you feel your character’s pain.

Overall the game is about as good a video game implementation of a board game as I could imagine … yet there are two issues – value and usefulness.

In terms of value, you can buy the Monopoly board game at Amazon for well under $20, which is half the price of Monopoly Streets. For me that is not a good value, and it places the onus on the video game to deliver a superior game than the board game. That simply doesn’t happen.

The other issue is ‘usefulness’. This is more subjective, but ultimately gets down to: if I want to play Monopoly, should I choose a video game format? Similarly, if I want to play a video game should I choose Monopoly? In both cases I found the answer to be ‘no’. Board games are ‘family time’ for me, and being stationary on a couch looking at a TV is a very different experience. I would rather be around the table. Similarly, if we want to play a video game we’ll choose something more interactive and, well, more of a video game.

Monopoly Streets has a tough task – emulate one of the classic all-time board games and add enough value to make a compelling case to get people away from the table and around the TV. I think that they have done as good a job as possible adapting the game to video game format, but ultimately it just isn’t enough. Board games are better played in a very socially interactive setting with the ability to look at one another. Also, at twice the price of the board game, Monopoly Streets faces an uphill battle presenting a reasonable value proposition even to buyers more open to the format.

Here is the trailer for Monopoly Streets:

Review: Monopoly Streets

Where to Buy: Amazon.com

Price: $39.99 (currently on sale for $27.19)

What I Like: Faithful reproductions of the classic board game; fun and lively animations; custom game rules help adapt to your ‘house’ style

What Needs Improvement: Twice as much as the board game; still more fun to sit around the table.

Source: Review copy provided by publisher

Categories: Gaming, Reviews

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