Anyone reading this review should be in no two minds about the subject matter. One of the most famous “board” games ever marketed; along with Cluedo, Chess, Snakes And Ladders, and Scrabble, Monopoly has been released in countless guises in a variety of formats. With 2004 apparently being the 70th Anniversary of the classic strategy game, ZOO Digital Publishing have taken it upon themselves to create a Game Boy Advance rendition for the first time. Programmed by Full Fat, this is the first 3D version of Monopoly available.
The rules, quite obviously, are an important part of the game’s equation and the default setting appears quite bizarre. To those enthusiasts of the game it seems as though the “school boy” rules are in play – money for landing on Free Parking etc., but to the most it’ll seem like a half-baked attempt at Monopoly 2 (please… never…). It’s a very good job then that the rules are completely customisable. From Starting Funds to Mortgage Repayments to Turn-Limits, you have the option to select from (usually) four or five different settings, making it very easy to set-up the original rules.
Playing against computer opponents gives you the option to play when alone, but the AI is far from perfect. A computer player may reject an offer for a trade of a Property for £1000 one turn, only to accept £800 the next. Playing against multiple computer opponents can become tiring as they seem to ponder over even the simplest of decisions.
The graphics are comfortable for the Game Boy Advance, displaying some nice crisp polygons and, as you would expect with the subject matter, rather bland textures. However the slow-down when pieces turn a corner is inexcusable. Unfortunately, it seems that the developers, possibly unintentionally, have tried to move this release of Monopoly into the strategy videogame as opposed to strategy board-game conversion genre, and what results is a rather messy in-game Menu system. Trading with opponents and buying houses is an unnecessarily long-winded process especially when considering the frequency of such transactions.
The title’s sound is pleasant enough and easily ignorable – 2there are no off-putting high-pitched tones when you earn money or any of the annoying little extras developers seem to think keep our puny little minds entertained.
As a package which for some reason DOES NOT even include multi-cart cable link-up, let alone wireless multiplayer, the game becomes instantly more limited when you realise you have to start passing your Game Boy Advance between each of the players. It’s not the worst version of Monopoly I’ve ever played; the first Game Boy title had such poor clarity it rendered it practically unplayable, but unless you’re a Monopoly addict who just can’t wait for his/her friends to visit, you’re probably better off spending your money on the original board game. The biggest of questions still remains… why bother?