Monopoly Wii Review

The Wii has gained a reputation for family-friendly games, and a board game conversion like Monopoly should be a banker for a company like EA at Christmas. The most important aspects have to be the ease of use, the extra features added and the ability of the game to draw you back again and again.

Up to four players can take part in the main game, sharing remotes or using one each. The AI takes over any players that are not controlled by a human. Dice are rolled to determine who goes first, and then the game proceeds by the standard Monopoly rules. Players roll the dice to move, shaking the Wiimote and pressing A to carry out the roll. Landing on a property gives you the chance to buy it, landing on someone else’s property means paying out rent for staying there. The rules are explained as the game goes along, with optional subtitles. The board is seen from overhead for choosing properties and shaking the dice, but switches to a 3-dimensional view when the tokens are moved. The player can also determine House Rules before play; for example, all taxes payable to the bank are left on the board and given to the player who lands on the Free Parking space.

As the game is played and properties on the board are bought, stamps are earned for the Passport. This is an interesting idea, since earning a set number of stamps will unlock extra boards. Two are available from the start – the classic London board and the new World edition, which features big cities. The extra boards change the appearance of the playing pieces and the names of the properties. Among the more memorable are the Sweet Board (with the board itself resembling a sandwich cake) and the Cheese Board (with its rustic tablecloth and blackbirds singing).

The most notable addition for this version is the Monopoly Richest edition, transforming the way the game is played. Like the main mode, up to four players take part at once with the AI making up the numbers. The game is split into three levels – Developer, Industrialist and Tycoon – that feature a different number of turns (6, 9 and 12) and slightly different rules. Each turn sees four dice rolled, deciding the number of tokens to be played. A mini-game is then started. These are all based around the Chance/Community Chest cards and all require the Wiimote to be waved in a certain way. Get Out Of Jail, for example, makes the player run away from the police by waving the remote up and down, with the A Button pressed to leap obstacles. The order the players finish in determines the order in which they get to choose their dice.

Once the four players have chosen their dice, that many tokens are put at random onto the board. Mr. Monopoly then heads off around the board, stopping at each token. If the property is not owned, then the token’s owner gets it. If the property belongs to another player, then rent must be paid – in the form of properties. Special squares like Chance and Free Parking affect the tokens or properties depending on the level. Once Mr. Monopoly has completed a circuit of the board, the positions are announced based on total property value. After a set number of turns the game ends with the richest player declared the winner.

At first glance there does not seem a lot extra to the game. However, the new Richest edition requires some different strategies to master. The extra boards are a nice attempt at adding more content, but there are a few niggles. The computer AI is reasonably solid, with only the occasional dodgy trade or decision. The game is often slowed up by Mr. Monopoly’s speech, and raising the Wiimote to bid at the auction can feel clumsy or lead to a wrongly timed bid. The mini-games are a mixed bunch, although they can be played separately from the main menu. Nice touches include the sounds for the playing pieces and the fireworks for the winner.

This is definitely one for fans of the board game, and for families looking for something different to play together on their Wii. But however slick the package, it cannot totally replace the fun of gathering the family around a real board.