Monopoly Gamer Review - A Perfect Starter Game For Kids Who Love Mario
Quick Glance: Monopoly Gamer
Game Type: Property Management, Score-Based with objectives
Number of Players: 1 - 4
Mechanics: Dice Rolling with power ups, basic rent management, currency exchange.
MSRP: $24.99 for standard (reviewed), $39.99 for collector's edition
Forget everything you know about Monopoly. Sure this board has a "Go To Jail", "Free Parking", and "Go" spaces, but that's about all it has in common with the original classic or any of the themed variations. This is a completely new game with some Monopoly-like elements. Geared towards children, this game utilizes a lot of chance and some skill to move your tokens around the board. No paper money or houses/hotels, this is simplified to the max.
Players select a token of their choice and their corresponding ability card. The object of the game is to rack up as many points until all bosses are defeated. Bosses are encountered by passing "Go" and challenging them to battle. Coins are the currency for this game, no more paper money. Each property set is only two colors (as opposed to sometimes three in traditional Monopoly.) Purchase a property and start charging rent if someone lands. There are only two rent tiers if you have a single color owned or both. There are two different dice rolled each turn, a numerical die and a power-up die. Some strategy comes into play, as you can activate either first. For example, this would determine if a player would be hit by a shell that was directly in front of the player taking their turn, or if they move ahead a few spaces and knock out the leader who is even further up the board. Along the way, there are warp pipes, Thwomps, and other obstacles to navigate to get around the board. Highest score at the end of the game is the winner.
The rule book in the standard edition was full color with many pictures and very easy to understand sentences to help children understand the gameplay. It is well-written, and one of the better Monopoly-brand manuals I have seen in a long time.
Although it is called "Monopoly Gamer", it really is sticking to the Mario-verse. Hasbro utilizes the Nintendo license very well and creates an environment where "Boardwalk" isn't just replaced with some name and image based on the theme. The game has been completely retooled for a younger audience, and it feels like you are actually moving through a game like New Super Mario Bros. Wii U. Levels, enemies, power ups are all faithfully used and displayed in a colorful fashion. The tokens are really what shines here. For an additional $3.99, you can expand the possibilities of the game by purchasing an additional character token with a new ability. This is a great way to keep the game fresh without having to shell out tons of money for an expansion. You can see which token you are buying in the store, but some online retailers just ship a random Power Pack.
Monopoly Gamer is simple to set up and made to be this way so that children can play right away. Pull out the board, pick a token, hand out some coins, and start rolling those dice! The game should take about 30 minutes max, possibly longer if you are teaching someone the mechanics.
I am going to be honest, when I first saw this game online, I was VERY skeptical about what the tokens would look like. They easily could have phoned this in, or created bland pewter tokens like other Monopoly variations. However, that is definitely not the case with Monopoly Gamer. Each token is pre-painted and designed to scale. Donkey Kong is larger than Mario, and the tokens reflect that. The paint jobs on the tokens are precise, and because of this quality, it is easy to want to collect all of the tokens from the various Monopoly Gamer Power Packs. It was a nice surprise to see the Koopa Kids make an appearance on the Boss Cards, and some of the worlds depicted on the game board I had totally forgotten about until seeing them again.
There is a cool variation that can be played called "Party Mode". This entails players selecting more than one token, and swapping them out throughout the game to utilize strategy to tailor their gameplay to the strengths of the character ability cards. Pretty neat, something I never would have even considered, but there are official rules for this in the rule book that allows for this neat substitution-based variant.
Overall Score and Final Thoughts
This is one of those games that you will want to play with your kids. It is easy to understand, has a great theme, and is overall a lot of fun to play. Collectors out there will want to get their hands on the Collector's Edition which provides an exclusive Bowser token as well as collect all of the beautifully detailed Power Pack tokens to add to their game collection.
The license is accurate, the price is right, and the gameplay is a lot of fun. I am really proud of Hasbro for bucking the trend of blind bags and letting us see which Power Pack tokens we are actually purchasing! I will say that Tanooki Mario has been the most difficult for me to find so far. Take 30 minutes and try Monopoly Gamer for yourself, you will not be disappointed! Check out our video review below for a complete look at Monopoly Gamer.