Electronic Arts support for Microsoft’s new handheld format may not come as a surprise, but their choice of titles certainly has. Disregarding the likes of FIFA, Skate It and Mirror’s Edge, which have all proved popular on iOS devices, the publisher has instead opted for the big, all-encompassing franchises such as Need for Speed, Tetris and The Sims. Monopoly of course falls into the spectrum of being accessible to all who purchase a Windows Phone 7 handset, being based on the traditional rule set of the classic board game.
The Windows Phone 7 version of Monopoly is essentially an adaptation of the version available on other mobile devices, complemented by Achievements and online Leaderboards. All actions are of course conducted via the touchscreen, and therefore the entire game has been optimised through a series of well presented menus. From trading properties to buying your way out of jail, buying and selling houses to bidding in an auction, every possible interaction is delivered through crisp and clear menus, with no room for misinterpretation. Up to four players can play in a single game, with any combination of human and AI players allowed. Three AI difficulty settings are available, however, as the Windows Phone 7 format remains in its infancy, no online multiplayer is provided.
Of course, while Monopoly is as a default based upon that traditional rule set, players have plenty of room to customise their games. From adapting the payment system to incorporate the Free Parking pay-out system adopted by many younger gamers, to ignoring the auction rule, to all of the above – and much more besides – players can set-up almost any variation of the game that they could imagine.
The presentation of Monopoly on the Windows Phone 7 devices is commendable. As previously mentioned, the menu system has been well designed, but greater than this is the accessibility of information. Players will unconsciously detect much of the detail they require for making decisions simply by the on-screen arrangement – be it who owns which property or how likely they are to have an opposing player land on one of theirs.
Though the titles currently available on the Windows Phone 7’s Xbox LIVE enabled marketplace are currently very limited, the catalogue is expanding rapidly. Monopoly may well have had its day on the best sellers list, but that doesn’t mean its lifespan has ended unnaturally. The Windows Phone 7 adaptation of the classic board game is just as well crafted as any PC, home console or rival mobile format’s version, and therefore just as entertaining. Of course, very few will download Monopoly without having an appreciation for the original board game, and few of those who do will be disappointed.