Seeing as I had recently gotten back into playing traditional board games, I was curious to try out the Nintendo Switch version of the most classic board game of all, Monopoly. Surely most people are familiar with this game, where you buy property, try to get a monopoly by owning all property of a single color, then build houses and hotels to increase the amount of money your opponents owe you whenever they land on your spaces. While Monopoly is one of my favorite board games, I went into the demo with low expectations because I feel like physical games lose a lot of their charm once they enter the digital realm. So perhaps my opinion of this demo was a bit biased from the start…
Now that I’ve already explained the general idea of how Monopoly works, I suppose the main thing to do is describe how the digital version differs. (Though let it be known that I didn’t have time to complete a full game because of the demo’s 30-minute time limit.) To start, a lot of these changes are more aesthetic than anything that really affects how the game is played.
First of all, there are different animated boards you can use. The city board was the only one available in the demo, but the full game also offers an amusement park and haunted theme. There are also other game pieces that the physical game doesn’t usually offer, like a cat or duck. In addition to now including background music (which I didn’t exactly care for, even if it was expected), there is also a narrator that repeats a lot of the same phrases over and over as the game progresses.
One feature I did like was the option to shake the controller to mimic shaking your dice before rolling them. A feature I did not like, however, was how zoomed in the camera was, making it rather difficult to tell where you are on the board or where you are in relation to other players. If there’s a way to change the camera angle so that it shows the board from the top, I think that would be much better, but I didn’t think to check while I was playing the demo.
As far as the actual gameplay is concerned, if you’re bored of playing with the same old classic rules, you can also choose different goals that determine who wins the game, such as trying to be the first player to build a hotel or have 2,000 in cash. Although I chose the classic rules during my 30-minute playtime, that didn’t stop each player from receiving three special cards that gave them certain advantages, like being able to swap places on the board with another person or raise the rent of a chosen color by 10%.
One advantage to playing the digital version is that it makes certain features of the game a bit easier, such as offering to pay someone for one of their properties, something I don’t usually take advantage of in the physical game. I also recently learned that auctions are apparently a part of the game, thanks to them appearing multiple times during the demo. I honestly thought this was a feature unique to the digital version until I looked it up online.
Now, something that’s not really possible when playing the physical game is being able to play against AI players. For the demo, I chose to have three AI characters to play against, which was probably a mistake. I guess you can skip having to watch the other players move their pieces, but I’m not sure you can do that with anything else. I would have really appreciated the game having a fast forward button to speed up the pace a bit because the game is a bit slow otherwise. Then again, I wouldn’t recommend playing this game against AI anyway, as it’s a rather lonely experience. Plus, people online feel that the game is rigged in the AI’s favor, as they seem to get much better dice rolls, including many doubles that allowed them to get extra turns, something I never got.
This version of Monopoly is available on the Switch for $39.99, which seems like a steep price for such a simple game (then again, it’s not much more than the classic 1980’s version of the physical game). Whether or not this game is for you, it all really depends on what you’re looking for. I’d, personally, much rather just play the physical board game, where you get the experience of moving the pieces and handling the little paper bills yourself. But if you’d rather save on space and just get a digital copy, then I suppose there’s really nothing wrong with this version, though I’d recommend getting it when it goes on sale for $9.99.
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