Overview: Monopoly got an update, with a circular board, fancy-looking player tokens, updated pricing, and plastic bank cards in place of all that paper money. Monopoly Revolution comes with a little electronic device that keeps track of each player’s bank balance and also plays various little songs during portions of the game. Also, the board is round instead of square.
Players: 2 to 6 players
Ages: 8 and up
Playing Time: Depends — do you mean until the game is over, or just until everyone is tired of playing?
Rating: It’s about as fun as regular Monopoly. Take that as you will.
Who Will Like It? If you like Monopoly, but felt that it really should require batteries, then you’ll probably enjoy Monopoly Revolution.
The basic idea of Monopoly hasn’t changed—buy up properties, get a monopoly of a particular color and you can start developing it with houses and then hotels, increasing the rent. When somebody lands on your property, they pay you rent. The goal is to run everyone else into bankruptcy. But it’s nothing personal—it’s just business.
Components: The game comes with a circular board, the game unit, 6 player tokens, 6 bank cards, dice, hotels and houses, and deed cards for all the properties. The components are fine: the board is sturdy cardboard, the cards are nice heavy cardstock, and the hotels are clear plastic in green and red. The player tokens are kind of funky—clear flat plastic rectangles with the old symbols (iron, shoe, car, etc.) etched on them. Personally, I think they look kind of sterile and don’t have the personality of the old metal bits.
The biggest change, of course, is that there’s no more Monopoly money. Instead, each player gets a bank card. There’s a little gizmo that sits in the center of the gameboard, and it has two slots on the sides, one to add money and one to subtract it. You insert your card, punch in a number, and it adds or subtracts the amount. To pay somebody rent, you both insert your cards, one in the plus side and one in the minus side.
The gizmo also has a few other functions: instead of Chance cards, the device displays the instructions for Chance on the screen. It’s also used when you pass “Go” to collect your salary, and plays little songs corresponding to various events.
If you’ve played Monopoly before, you pretty much know how to play Monopoly Revolution. There are just a few changes, which I’ll outline below. For those of you who are somehow new to Monopoly, here’s a very quick summary: roll two dice, move that number of spaces. If you land on a property and it’s owned, you pay the owner rent. Otherwise, if you have the money, you can purchase it, and start charging other people rent. Get more properties of the same color and rent increases; get all of the properties in a color and you can start building houses and hotels on it to charge even more rent. Not enough money to pay a debt? You can mortgage properties, or sell them off to other players or the bank.
There are also spaces that send you to Jail, where you have to roll doubles to get out (or pay a fine). And there are Chance spaces, which will give you a random event: get money, lose money, move to a particular space on the board, etc.
One difference between this and classic Monopoly is that the Chance space gives you two options: either you can hit the Chance button on the unit, and it affects everyone in that quadrant, not just you. But you also have the option of moving to the next unowned property space and putting it up for auction immediately. Also, at random times during the game, the unit will give a particular player a Chance event.
Ok, so I’m not a huge fan of Monopoly. Sure, our family had it as a kid, but I don’t think I’ve ever actually completed a full game of Monopoly. I don’t know that I even knew the game had an end to it. In my collection of 185 games, I didn’t have a single version of Monopoly until Hasbro sent me this review copy. However, I pulled it out and looked it over, showed it to my girls (who are too young for it, but were very interested in the electronic gadgetry), and we tried a few rounds.
The gizmo is partly fun and partly annoying. For anyone who doesn’t want to shuffle around fake bills and sort them at the end of the game, having an electronic bank is certainly convenient. But it also feels like some fundamental part of Monopoly is missing—how can you not have all those colorful flimsy bills? Plus, I think the physical bills give kids a better sense of how much money they have and how much they’re spending. The numbers (especially now that things are in the thousands and millions of dollars) are too abstract for some kids to really picture what they’re doing.
Getting rid of the physical Chance cards and putting it into the device is also a mixed blessing. It certainly reduces the amount of stuff you have to deal with, and I do like the random Chance events that occur throughout the game. However, the way it functions, you have to sit and wait for the right quadrant to appear, and then wait for the little ditty to play, and then wait for the text to scroll across the tiny screen. It’s a lot more waiting than picking up a card and reading it.
And while the new player tokens are certainly sleek and modern-looking, it’s weird that they’ve kept the old icons too instead of updating them. I prefer the old pewter pieces, which actually had some character to them. The round board I could take or leave — it looks slick but doesn’t really add or take away anything from the gameplay.
All in all, I think if I wanted to play Monopoly, I’m not sure that this version is the one I’d go with. (Truthfully, I’d probably go with Anti-Monopoly.) But if you’re a Monopoly fan, plus you like your electronic gizmos and want to add a little pizazz to the game, you could check Monopoly Revolution out.
Wired: The electronic gizmo saves you time setting up and putting the game away, and the plastic bank cards are kind of nifty. Updated pricing matches today’s economy much better.
Tired: It’s sort of a “great new look, same great taste” situation — mostly superficial changes that aren’t all necessary.
Disclosure: GeekDad received a review copy of this game.