Monopoly Review

It's no secret around my house that the Nintendo Switch has become the go-to system at game time. I've always dreamed of a portable system with the power of a home console, and one that can be used as a home console is just a bonus. I'm not the only one who's gone Switch-crazy; they are still flying off shelves and developers are falling over themselves to get games on the eShop as quickly as possible. This has led to a tidal wave of games of varying quality, with ports, indies, and AAA titles sharing the spotlight and huge sales numbers. For every Super Mario Odyssey, it seems, there is a Vroom in the Night Sky, and the recent release of the classic board game Monopoly falls about in the middle; it's no timeless classic (as the board game itself is), but it's no train wreck, either.

Before we get to anything else, there is something you need to know about Ubisoft's Switch version of Monopoly. I often use Midnight Club Racing DUB Edition on the PSP as my go-to example for obscenely long load times, but Monopoly on Switch has easily stolen the crown and become my new reference. Loading the game can take up to 20 minutes by some accounts, though I timed it and it clocked in at nearly 12. Twelve minutes. Thankfully, the load times are a lot shorter if you power up the game from a full power-off of the Switch, rather than from sleep mode. The loads are still noticeably long, which makes me feel like pulling the actual board game out of the closet and setting it up might take less time than waiting for the Switch version to load. If Monopoly still looks like a possible purchase after that info has been shared, you are in for a pretty decent electronic version of the classic game. Just be prepared to do a little waiting.

Monopoly screenshot 2

Monopoly on Switch is essentially identical to the board game itself, so I won't go into how you play; Monopoly is a game literally everyone knows how to play. Instead, let's talk over what having an electronic version, rather than a physical version, has as advantages. First off, you can choose between a few classic boards, which are exactly what you'd expect - static, though faithful versions of the classic board game. The living boards are far more interesting, featuring all kinds of animations in 3D and lots of stuff going on. Unfortunately, there are only three of these living boards - City, Amusement Park, and Haunted - and they are all basically the same thing with different visuals. And once the novelty wears off, the little animations don't inspire going back to these boards over and over; after just a few games you probably won't care about the theme or classic vs. living boards. Monopoly is Monopoly, after all.

Like Puyo Puyo Tetris, Monopoly adds in little modifiers and an achievement/challenge system to keep things interesting. You can play the speed dice mode, which makes the game go a little faster, or you can choose special rules or tasks to complete, such as be the first to go to jail or build a rail yard. There aren't a ton of these to work on, and they feel a little arbitrary seeing as Monopoly is based on random rolls of the dice. With that in mind, obtaining the goals feels more luck-based than anything, and quickly lose their appeal.

Monopoly screenshot 4

Of course, multiplayer is what Monopoly is all about, and the Switch version offers both online and offline multiplayer for up to six people. The online is hit-or-miss; it runs well enough but it can be tough to find others online. And since Monopoly is such a long game, it was rare that I found an online opponent who was willing to see things through to the end. Local multiplayer is much more fun, and the game is very liberal when it comes to getting more folks in on the fun. AI bots are available to fill in the holes of the six players, and really only a single Joy-Con, passed from player to player, is necessary to keep the game going. So whether you have a single Joy-Con or six, multiplayer is functional and easy to enjoy.

With the load times, the "cool but only once or twice" modifiers and living boards that are all pretty much the same, it is probably a better idea, and a cheaper one, to just buy the physical board game, rather than invest in the electronic Switch version. Every know addition to the Switch's growing library is cool with me, but Monopoly is one you can probably take a pass on.

Final Rating: 40% - Just buy the actual board game.

 



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