When you think of iconic board games, Monopoly is inevitably at the top of everyone’s list. There have been so many versions of Monopoly over the years (I personally have a copy of Star Wars Monopoly) it should come as no surprise that EA has produced an iPhone version.
For those new to the Monopoly universe, Monopoly is a board game played between two to four players. Each player represents the head of a major company symbolized usually by the most benign game tokens ever: a shoe, a top-hat, a little-dog, or a car. Each player takes a turn, rolls two six-sided dice and moves his/her token across the board. Each space on the board has either a property to be bought or initiates some other financial transaction. The goal of the game is to make the most money (usually by acquiring monopolies on certain types of land) and bankrupt your competition.
This latest version of Monopoly brings the capitalist game of real estate to a global scale. Instead of classic places like “Boardwalk,” Monopoly Here and Now: The World Edition has you purchase major cities all over the world. Buy London, New York, Montreal, or Hong Kong. The game pieces have been updated as well, so instead of playing as “the shoe” you can play as “the sumo wrestler” or “the penguin.” Equipped with spiffy 3-D graphics and a mixed soundtrack, the board game comes alive on the iPhone.
EA does a good job of translating what essentially is a social game meant to be played around a kitchen table to a platform that people need to be able to pick up and leave off where they like. The game saves automatically when you exit, and you can load a previously saved game quickly. You can set up a game against 1-3 AI opponents, adjust their difficulty, and even set up a Wi-Fi game to play against human opponents. In order to shake the game’s two dice, you shake the iPhone- a subtle but fun use of the iPhone’s motion controls.
As each game begins, easy-to-understand instructions greet you as progress. The menus make it easy to buy and trade property. Mortgaging property and buying houses is also convenient, but the game seemed sluggish to recognize my commands to turn the board to see different property.
For those who grew up with different Monopoly rules than the traditional ones, there are some rule adjustments you can make in the game. For example, you can start out with property, you can start out with a lot more money, or you can collect more money when you pass go.
I don’t think the game needed another reinvention to become a “World Edition,” but I can understand EA’s hope that by including international symbols, the game will appeal to a wider audience. When you land on “chance” and “community chest” spaces, you’ll also be treated to random facts about the world, which is cute initially but gets old fast. I don’t care how many times a year “Fashion Week” occurs in Paris- I just mortgaged the entire city!
Monopoly Here and Now: The World Edition is a clever adaptation of the classic game to the iPhone format. 3-D animations and flexible options spruce up the formula to produce a game that is as addictive as it is fun to play.
Monopoly Here and Now: The World Edition is compatible with any iPhone or iPod touch running the iPhone 2.2 software update.
[Chris Holt is a Macworld assistant editor.]