Monopoly Review

If kids ran the world, doubtless a few worldwide booger-throwing wars would begin with botched games of Monopoly. Parker Brothers’ finance-based board game has kept children (and their parents) sane through countless rainy days, but let us not forget the violence that erupted over corrupt ‘bankers’ and siblings who just didn’t want to bother with basic math.

That’s why you owe it to your childhood to download Monopoly for the iPhone. EA’s adaptation of the classic game is fun and moves quickly, making it ideal for a bus trip. It’s also Bluetooth and wi-fi enabled, so when your friends play with you, they won’t be able to overturn the game board in a fit of bad temper.

Force friends to the poorhouse wirelessly.

If you grew up in suburbia, the rules of Monopoly probably bonded with your blood like so many liters of Kool-Aid. If you’re not familiar with the game, EA’s version offers a quick set of rules, as well as tutorials (which, thankfully, can be turned off). Basically, Monopoly requires you to buy property and charge rent to the suckers who suffer a bad roll of the dice and end up on your turf. Rent goes up substantially on properties with houses and hotels. You can sell and trade deeds to your land, too: Properties are color-coded, and netting all the properties in a set is the key to draining funds from the other players. The game ends when one player is stinking rich and everybody else has mortgaged their property and are eating imitation gruel in the State poorhouse.

The nicest thing about Monopoly for the iPhone is that it’s easy to pick up and play. There’s no need to haul out the game box, hunt pennies to replace the missing player tokens, or un-scramble the money into its proper denominations. Everything is ready in a second. You can also pause the game at any time and fiddle with the options to make the game rules stricter or wussier according to your tastes. Sick of collecting a measly $200 every time you pass GO? Ramp your salary up to $400, or eliminate it entirely to make a supportive statement about slave labor. Banking and mortgaging is handled by the game’s computer, which eliminates a lot of tedious math (though you can still mortgage properties manually when the debts pile up).

That’s one depressed housing market.

It seems odd to describe the graphics in a Monopoly game as ‘well-animated,’ but EA added lots of charming little touches, like game pieces that move according to their personalities. The dog jingles its unseen collar as it trots from space to space, the boat glides through an invisible ocean, and the top hat flips, which is just awesome. Unfortunately, Monopoly’s mascot, Rich Uncle Pennybags, has gone from being hand-drawn to computer rendered. His dead, plastic eyes make him look more like a Shifty Uncle Badtouch.

Monopoly’s rival AI is also a bit dimwitted. If you land Park Place or Boardwalk, prepare for the computer to hassle you regularly with a crummy trade. Sensible counter-offers are almost always rejected.

EA’s Monopoly is, overall, a Must Have for any fan of the board game. And if your only memories of Monopoly involve the family dog digesting half the Hotel pieces, take the time to re-discover the Parker Brothers’ classic with this convenient inedible edition.

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