Monday, November 10, 2008

Monopoly For Wii: Old School Is New Again!

This past summer while we were vacationing with friends at their lake house, my daughters learned proper diving form, jet skied for the first time and learned how to ice a cake. This is the ideal vacation for my husband and I - it's great to hang out with people who can teach our kids stuff. My feeling is that we taught them all the really important skills - walking, talking, how to order a proper drink at Starbucks - so I think it's really up to others to teach them everything else. It's worked out pretty good so far, but I'm getting a little worried about my 10-year-old, who is picking up some pretty bad habits from the drunk guy who's been tutoring her down at the bowling alley.

One of the other things they learned from our friends' two daughters was how to play Monopoly, the classic board game that we all grew up with. Our girls quickly became hooked, and the four them spent hours buying and selling properties, going to jail, arguing and going bankrupt. (It's like the AIG story, without the government bailout!) We promised them we'd buy the game when we got home, but like everything else, we never got around to it. So I was happy to receive a copy of Monopoly for Wii from EA Games to try out - I looked at it as all the fun of Monopoly, without the paper money to clean up. I liked it already.

My girls gave it a test run with their friends - there can be up to four players but each person has to have their own Wii controller. (We only have three, so two of the girls formed a team.) Their previous knowledge of the Monopoly board game helped, as they jumped right in and were able to start playing immediately. One of the features they loved was the ability to choose different themes for the board, which is reflected in the gamepieces, the board graphics and even Mr. Monopoly's clothes. Depending on your mood, choose from Classic, Future, Cheese (!) or my girls' favorite, Sweet, where you can have a gamepiece that's a cupcake. Continued play will allow you to unlock even more game boards - my girls had fun coming up with their own ideas for possible themes: MySpace, iTunes, Slumber Party and my favorite - World Without School (don't ask.)

From there most of the rules are the same as the Monopoly game we've all come to love, with one major exception: When you land on a property, your only choices are to either buy it or put it up for auction, and players try to outbid each other for the deed. Also, unlike the traditional version there are in-game mini games that players can challenge each other with. One that I didn't get to see but that is mentioned in the game literature is the "Get Out of Jail" game where you saw prison bars to escape. I love it! I'm wondering if the Sweet version of the game has a gamepiece that is a cake with a file baked into it, or maybe the Future version has a game card that allows a relative to sneak a time machine into the slammer.

I'm sure Monopoly for Wii will never completely take the place of the board version of the game, but my daughters have been playing it pretty consistently and it's been a popular game during playdates. Personally, I'm thrilled that EA has decided to take traditional board games and make them popular to a whole new generation by releasing them as video games - it's a welcome break from the overabundance of violent and inappropriate games for kids. (Some other upcoming releases are Boggle and Sorry! - which we loved when we got to try them out earlier this year.) Also, I appreciate that the traditional boardgames require kids to actually think to strategize and outsmart their opponents instead of just blindly pushing buttons. Leave that to the adults and their Blackberrys, kids.

Note: One of the things my girls and their friends mentioned immediately and were "extremely disturbed by" was the fact that Mr. Monopoly was missing his monocle. I agreed, but then after some research I can't seem to find a single picture of him with his monocle. Did he ever have one to begin with? Or they thinking of Mr. Peanut, or maybe one of their math teachers?

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tags: | nintendo wii games reviews | |

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