The modern Game of Life by Milton Bradley hit store shelves in 1960, 100 years after a more antiquated version of the game was created. Nearly 50 years later, fans of the board game now have a fully featured, 3D version of the game at their fingertips for the iPhone and iPod Touch. This is just the latest handheld board game port to come from EA, and while it may not have as many upgrades as some others, this is a great version of a timeless game.
The Game of Life has you winding your way across the playing board in your automobile, beginning with your education and culminating in your retirement. Along the way, you’ll get a job, pay taxes, get married, have children, play the stock market, buy property, endure catastrophes, and pay bills. Think of it as the poor man’s version of The Sims, if you will. While this is purely a game of chance (spin the wheel, move a few spaces down the road, and either reap the rewards or suffer the consequences of the space’s life event), there is plenty of fun to be had, and each game will take you down a dramatically different life course.
Bob and his plastic family enjoying a Sunday drive.
You can try all you want to accumulate all the children or property you desire throughout the span of the game, but it’s ultimately your pocketbook that determines your winning or losing status. Making money by having a good job, being properly insured, and winning the lottery or performing great feats is all well and good, but there are a number of calculations that determine your final net worth. Landing on Life spaces won’t provide immediate monetary reward, for instance, but these can dramatically influence your wealth once you hit retirement age.
You can also sue your fellow players from time to time, although the game doesn’t leave you entirely defenseless. Share the Wealth cards allow you to reject such attacks, drastically reduce their effect on your financial well-being, or actually harm your opponent instead. You have to learn to use them wisely, however, as you will only have a few to use.
The wheel of fate.
This portable version changes little of the tried-and-true formula, but it does have a few perks over playing a game on the dinner table. For starters, if you’re playing against computer opponents (up to three), you can speed up their play, helping you accelerate the game’s progress. You can also play with real friends, but only locally by passing your device around. Wireless play would have been a much appreciated addition.
The visuals are also charming and well-animated, with a great 3D view of the board and sweeping camera angles that add a bit of drama to important moments like celebrating the birth of children. There is also the added benefit of not having to keep track of countless stacks of cash that you accumulate, or worry about a dishonest friend ripping you off as he plays the role of the bank. Leaving a game to pick up later is also much easier (and less messy) than with the tabletop variation.
For $4.99, this is a steal for those of us who grew up playing the game. Playing this on the go is a blast, and completing a round is much quicker and perfect for commutes or down time. If you’ve been looking to play the game but can’t find people willing to commit the time, consider this Life to be officially blessed.