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Monopoly Gamer Is A Mario Party Of Capitalism In The Mushroom Kingdom

AKA Mario Monopoly.

Super Mario Monopoly, or to use its legal name, Monopoly Gamer is a very strange creation. It takes perhaps the best known video game character of all time and marries it to one of the best known and enduring board games this side of chess and checkers. What you end up wth is a strange hybrid that’s really neither here nor there, but good for a few laughs nonetheless.

The basic set up will be familiar to any Monopoly player, as you’re presented with a square board that you move around the sides of, buying up properties, paying rent, passing Go and so on. However, there’s been dramatic changes to simplify the game and make room for Mario-inspired ideas in place of the more cut-throat examples of capitalism.

Instead of two numbered dice, one die is numbered and one die has little images on it such as shells, Bloopers, POW and simply a trio of coins, each of which represents an action. A key strategic layer comes from deciding whether to move or take your action first. Hit a player with a shell and they drop three coins (the green shell simply hits the next player along, while red lets you choose), which are then picked up by the next person to pass through or stop on that space. Hitting someone and then passing them by is preferable to the other way round for this reason.

Oh, and that’s right, all those bank notes have been replaced by the Mushroom Kingdom’s simple gold coins. It’s simplistic, but oddly awkward, as you’re constantly juggling little tokens, debating whether or not to trade them in for 5x coin tokens instead, only to regret your decision a few minutes later when you’re hit by another shell, or come into a sudden windfall. Not only that, but the number of starting coins doesn’t feel right. The rules say to start with 10, but this led to players being on the verge of bankruptcy by the time we’d made it round the board once, but when we decided to start with 20, it swung too heavily in the other direction.

After you’ve been once around the board, it often feels like you’re in an endless loop of picking up coins and then handing them to another player to pay rent or putting them straight back on the board. It also makes it a bit easier to keep the game hanging in the balance monetarily, as it constantly flows back and forth with each move and attack. That said, it’s still rather easy to end up vastly behind in the property game, which leads to a losing spiral that you’ll feel very familiar with.

Each character – there’s Mario, Princess Peach, Yoshi and Donkey Kong in the box, but others are also available – has their own particular abilities, for one thing, which are triggered when you land on a star. DK collects 3 coins from each player, Peach gets double her most expensive rent from the bank, and so on. They also each boost one particular face of the action die, so Peach’s red shells make people drop four coins instead of three and Yoshi can fire green shells behind instead of just in front.

One thing we didn’t get to try were the additional characters that are available as separate purchases. From Boo to Tanooki Mario, it looks like there’s plenty of variety, and there’s a Party Mode that lets you swap between characters and their abilities when you play. Honestly though, having them as blind purchases is a crummy move by Hasbro and Nintendo.

Update: As pointed out below, but not made particularly clear by Hasbro having just a single listing for these online or in the supplied instructions with the game, character packs can be told apart as the artwork does feature in a window in the packaging.

With only one movement die, they’ve cut down on the number of places to visit, so getting around the board is still relatively quick. Additionally, the Community Chest and Chance card piles have been done away with, replaced with the power up Stars and Mario Warp Pipes. The game goes by quickly, and you’ll be passing Go and collecting your two coins in no time, which also happens to trigger a boss battle whenever any player does so.

Themed after the eight members of the Koopa Klan, they’re played in order, with each player taking turns to buy in and roll a die or opt out. Winning doesn’t just boost your final score, it also lets you perform an action like force a property purchase from another player, make a property trade, send players to jail, and so on. With only eight boss cards, you only head round the board twice before you bump into Bowser and the game comes to an end. Even with fewer players they keep it at two tours as boss cards are removed. It meant we played three quick matches in the space of three hours, without the protracted, often abandoned games of traditional Monopoly.

Monopoly Gamer comes out as a crazy, and yet surprisingly fun mish-mash of ideas. Not all of them work, such as the lame boss “battles” and the awkward shift to using coins, but the actions and powers lend it just enough of the air of a Mario Party or Mario Kart game that keeps things entertaining. In some ways it maybe doesn’t go far enough in tweaking the Monopoly formula, but with the right company, it’s good for an afternoon’s play.

That said, it won’t be long before it’s packed away, all the coins rattling around in the box, and consigned to a shelf or cupboard. So it’s just like real Monopoly, then.

3 Comments
  1. X-_curly_-X
    Member
    Since: Aug 2017

    The additional characters aren’t blind bagsfrom what i can gather, The character card that comes with each character is displayed in a clear window on the bag so you know which character it is you are purchasing. We got this last month for taking on holiday and we had an absolute blast playing it with the kids, looking forward to the extra characters launching on the 20th.

    Comment posted on 11/08/2017 at 13:30.
    • Stefan L
      Community Team
      Since: May 2009

      Oh, you’re right. I’ll update the feature.

      Comment posted on 11/08/2017 at 15:39.
      • X-_curly_-X
        Member
        Since: Aug 2017

        I was concerned about this when I first bought it and then noticed the picture next to Mario on the bag for the extra characters were different. Glad I could help.

        Comment posted on 11/08/2017 at 18:39.

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