The boardgame community collectively lost its mind when Hasbro and Nintendo pretty much dropped Monopoly Gamer in stores without much warning. Of course, everyone’s reactions weren’t overwhelmingly positive as Monopoly has a bit of reputation among hobby gamers. Then again, plenty of people were going out of their way to snag the Collector’s Edition of the game and all the extra characters.
Currently available in Gamestop stores, Monopoly Gamer will hit the general public in the fall. The Collector’s Edition, which features an extra character, Bowser, plastic coins, and a box insert that can hold all the extra figures, will remain a Gamestop Exclusive. The retail edition doesn’t include Bowser, has cardboard coins, and a fairly plain box insert.
Monopoly Gamer Figures Packs let you expand your game with new characters from the world of Mario. Each costs $4 and contains the figure, character card, and a sticker.
Monopoly gamer plays a lot like the Monopoly most people already know how to play. There are a few changes, though, some of which aren’t minor. First, and most important, is the winning condition. The player who has the most points when all the Boss Cards have been defeated is the winner. More about Boss Cards in a bit. Points are earned by how many coins a player has, their properties, and any Bosses they defeated. Run out of coins? You’re not out of the game, just a bit out of luck. Sell a property or just try to grab some coins off the board. There’s no bankruptcy to knock you out of the game in Monopoly Gamer.
That brings us to the next change. There’s no paper money in Monopoly Gamer. Instead, players get coins in denominations of 1 and 5. Costs of properties range from 1-5 coins, while property rents max out at 10. Coins also can be dropped, and picked up, off the board.
The board also sees some major changes. There’s no Chance or Community Chest cards. There’s no Utilities or Railroads. Each color only has two properties, and there are warp pipes that allow you to race across the board, question marks to give you extra coins, Thowmps to knock coins from your, and Special Stars to activate character’s special powers. Have both properties of a color? You gain more rent when other players land on one, but there’s no houses or hotels to build.
A major aspect of Monopoly has always been its trademark pieces (even though they recently went through a bit of a change.) Monopoly Gamer swaps out metal tokens for plastic figures. Mario, Peach, Yoshi, and Donkey Kong come with the retail set, each with their own Character Card that explains their abilities. Every character has two: a special ability and a bonus ability. Special abilities are activated when a player lands on a Special Star. Bonus abilities give you a bonus to a roll on the special die.
That’s about a good a time as any to talk about the dice in Monopoly Gamer. There’s 2 of them, a movement die and a special die. Each turn both are rolled and the player decides in what order to resolve them. The movement die controls how many spaces you move across the board. The special die has icons that activate different powers. A green turtle shell makes the player in front of you drop 2 coins. A POW block makes everyone drop 1. There are 6 different icons in all, and each can be given a bonus by a different character.
Finally, there are bosses. Every time a player passes go they grab 2 coins and flip a Boss Card over from the pile. They can choose to pay the cost to fight the boss or pass the option to fight it to the next player. Fighting a boss is a single die roll where you need to roll equal or greater than the number listed on the card. Win, and resolve the winning condition and earn a number of points on the card. Lose, and pass the chance to fight the boss to the next player. The boss will continue to move from player to player until defeated, or all players pass. Once all the bosses are defeated the game is over and points are scored.
The board in Monopoly Gamer is full of just about every location you can think of from the Mario World. It’s also filled with warp pipes, Thwomps, question blocks, and Special Stars. Monopoly staples like the Go space, Jail, Free Parking, and Go to Jail are still here. The artwork is colorful and familiar to fans of the Mario series.
The cardboard of the board is pretty standard Monopoly fare. The coins are not an overly thick cardboard, but not flimsy either. The cards are glossy and have a nice thickness to them making them feel like they could stand up to multiple plays without much wear. The dice are oversized, with a good heft.
The real draw in Monopoly Gamer is the figures. They’re plastic, highly detailed, and have an excellent paint job. They feel great to pick up, move around the board, and would also look great just sitting on a collector’s shelf. The ability to snag more in the Figure Packs is a huge plus, adding the ability to snag Toad, Luigi, Rosalina, Wario, Boo, Fire Mario, Diddy Kong, and Tanooki Mario to the game.
I must admit that I’m not much of a Monopoly fan. The games to me feels repetitive, takes way too long, and is way too heavy on the luck. While Monopoly Gamer still features a good amount of luck, it’s streamlined to the point where a game takes less than an hour. That, combined with special powers of each character, and the wacky Mario Kart like antics of the special die, make the game a surprisingly fun time.
Monopoly Gamer is a version of Monopoly I can gladly play with my kids, have a goofy time knocking coins from other players and snagging them up, fight bosses, and have the game end in a time before I want to pull my hair out in frustration. I don’t think I’ve played a game so far that went over 45 minutes.
I’m a bit surprised, but I really do enjoy the game. I’m actually hoping we see more of these streamlined versions of the game come out with more collectible figures. Zelda, maybe?
A review copy of the retail Monopoly Gamer set, along with a Monopoly Gamer Figure Pack (Fire Mario), were provided free for review by Hasbro