Monopoly. You either play it now and then (usually on a rainy day, at a cottage, or when the power’s gone out), or you hate it. Actually, there are people that love it too — at least they have a lot of clubs, organizations, championships and even Monopoly cosplay so I’m assuming they enjoy the game and aren’t just being ironic.
From what I’ve seen, my fellow GeekDad writers don’t generally seem to be huge fans and based on his Monopoly rant from last year, I’m pretty sure Jonathan would be a decent candidate to head up the “hate it” club. Me, I don’t mind the game. Monopoly has its flaws, but it brings back memories of simpler times (aka before video games became standard equipment in every living room), playing board games in my grandparents’ gazebo.
In today’s world — competing against console and hand held video games, iPads, iPods and a slew of “geekier” board games like Settlers of Catan or Carcassonne — Monopoly faces an uphill battle for acceptance. Casual gamers have been sucked into quick reward video games, while die-hard board gamers seem to seek out more strategic, interactive or challenging titles.
One strategy that Hasbro has employed is to customize the game based on a series of pop culture licenses. And so you can buy Star Wars, The Beatles, The Simpsons, Spiderman and The Nightmare Before Christmas editions of Monopoly. Plus literally dozens of others. In each case, the basic game play mechanics remain the same, but playing pieces, properties and game cards are modified to reflect the movie, TV show, video game, sports team, location or artist being featured. I don’t know how well these collector’s editions sell, but eBay is doing a booming business with the pewter playing pieces.
Which brings me to the copy of the Futurama Collector’s Edition Monopoly that arrived a few weeks ago. I’m a big fan of the series, the movies and the comics. Checking the shelves in my office, I count seven Futurama action figures (ahem — collectibles) as part of the display; combine that with my tolerance for Monopoly and I’m probably right in the target demographic for this game. My kids are fans of the show too and this simple board game probably resulted in as much fuss as any video game arrival has previously. We cracked it open and played a game and it turned out just fine. There are enough Futurama elements to spice up the visual interest and keep them going with the insider references. And playing with Hypnotoad beats a metal top hat any day of the week. It’s not Settlers of Catan, but my kids haven’t shown any interest in more exotic board games, although they may be a bit young yet. If it will get them sitting around a table together, playing something that doesn’t feature high def graphics and gives them practice counting money (even fake money with Al Gore’s face on it), I’ll take it.
Will you like it? If you don’t mind the occasional game of Monopoly and you appreciate Futurama, then it’s probably worth checking out. You can pick up Futurama Monopoly Collector’s Edition from Amazon for under 40 bucks, so it’s about the same investment as a video game.
For those who are interested, here’s the list of Futurama-themed playing pieces included in the set:
- Bender’s head
- Hypnotoad (all glory to the Hypnotoad!)
- Planet Express Ship
- Brain Slug
- The What If Machine
Disclosure: a copy of the game was provided for review purposes.