February 4, 2010


This is lame.

First of all, the board is blah. Just because it's a circle doesn't mean it's suddenly "modern." It might surprise Hasbro, but they did have circles back in the 1930s, believe it or not. I guarantee you, most board game players don't look at a square board and think, "How old fashioned! How positively squaresville! I don't want to play on a square board!" And most board game players don't look at a circular board and think, "Ooooooo! How futuristic and cool! Why, I never imagined a board game could have a circular board! Gosh, now I want to play!" Most of the people who play board games couldn't care less about the shape of the board unless it has some bearing on the actual game play (i.e.: the board needs to be shaped a certain way for the game to work). Changing the Monopoly board from square to circle does nothing to impact game play; it's just a cosmetic change meant to make the game "cooler."

In fact, it could be said that it impacts game play in a negative way, because the idea that certain sides of the board were better than others is eliminated (i.e.: when you round the corner in regular Monopoly and get to the side with the green and blue properties, you know you've finally reached the high rent district -- it was exciting or dreadful, depending on your situation in the game). There's something to be said for the square board and the layout of the properties in this way. With the circular board, this element of the game is lost.

Also, the lack of interesting visuals on the board just makes the whole thing look like a rejected blueprint for a rejected Apple prototype. The monotone graphics are not inviting and the flashes of color are generic. One of the things that makes Monopoly such a great game is that it has personality. Original Monopoly is eccentric and a little mysterious (the funny names for the properties, the unusual playing pieces, the Free Parking space, etc.). Now it looks as dull as a corporate spreadsheet.

Finally, as the article on Entertainment Weekly mentioned (as well as the comments section), with an electronic banking system there's no way to cheat. Monopoly is one of the great board games because it allows for (and almost seems to invite) some level of cheating, backdoor deal making, and other such all-too-human interactions. Skimming a little off the top if you're the banker; making nefarious deals with another player while you're in the kitchen supposedly getting snacks for everybody else; gleefully counting your huge wad of cash in front of all the other players and then fanning it in their faces just to taunt them -- these and other such activities are what Monopoly's all about! And it's all eliminated when "money" is contained within a single debit card and an electronic bank. Feh.

I love all the themed Monopoly games (I think my favorite is the Wizard of Oz Monopoly), so I'm not resistant to change. But this new design just seems bad. It looks boring. And there's bad pop music involved! It doesn't make any sense!

Oh, and it's never a good idea to replace hefty pewter game pieces with cheap plastic ones. It makes the whole thing seem cheap and disposable.

I won't be playing this new updated Monopoly. They'll have to pry the old boot and the fake $500 bills from my cold dead hands.

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