Seemingly every property has been given the Monopoly treatment. Rock bands. Car companies. Nearly every major metropolitan area. Given the capitalist themes of the board game, this rebranding makes sense. Why not make as much money as possible from the game? The differences between all the versions, by and large, are only cosmetic: properties get theme-appropriate names, the pieces are changed, etc. Variations in the play style haven’t been meaningfully tweaked in years, and when they are, the outcome* isn’t a guaranteed success. But that will soon change. Nintendo’s gotten the green light to Monopoly-ize the Super Mario franchise—and the resulting Monopoly Gamer looks to be a real board game changer.
Unlike most Monopoly games, Mario’s Monopoly Gamer actually incorporates elements of the canon into the game itself. Yes, you can play as Mario, Peach, Yoshi, or Donkey Kong, and buy properties like Peach’s and Bowser’s castles with two denominations of coin. But Monopoly Gamer takes things a step further with the inclusion of such features as a second die that replaces numbers with attacks like Green and Red Shells. These rolls are used to target your opponents. Red Shells let you choose which player drops three coins and Green Shells only hit the player down the board. It’s Monopoly with a taste of battle royal. What’s more capitalistic than some actual sabotage?
And then there are the boss fights. Instead of collecting $200, every time they pass”Go”, players collect two coins and fight one of Bowser’s seven kids before fighting the spikey-shelled dragon himself. A boss is defeated when the player rolls a die higher than the value on the boss’ card, and the more boss’ you defeat, the higher your chances of winning are. The game ends when the last boss is defeated, the winner decided by which player has the most coins and boss cards.
It’s nice to see some life infused into Monopoly. But the new features maybe change the game a bit too much. There’s no “Go” to pass and you do not collect $200? What? This isn’t right. Sure you still buy properties but, thanks to turtle shells and boss battles, the board is full of more distractions than a night spent in a hotel on Baltic Avenue. But, it’s nice to see the game try and stay relevant. The game costs $25 but if you want to level up the experience, Booster Packs with Luigi and Toad pieces are available for $3.