If there is a downside to Monopoly it is that games can sometimes run a little on the long side. Well, Monopoly has shifted into high gear with the all new Voice Banking Edition from Hasbro.
What Is the Monopoly Voice Banking Game?
The basic gameplay is unchanged. You still roll dice and advance around the same property-filled board in a race to be the player with most money and the highest property value. The twist to this version of the game is the banking mechanism. First it was the Ultimate Banking version of the game where players paid with a Monopoly credit card making all transactions “cashless.” Now with Voice Activated Banking, the game is still cashless but transactions are controlled with your voice.
For the first time ever you get to hear what Mr. Monopoly sounds like because you interact with him by pressing buttons on his top hat in the center of the board. But here is the real kicker, you don’t have to wait to setup and start playing the game to hear his voice. As soon as you open the box there is a voice introduction given to you by none other than Mr. Monopoly himself… a really nice touch to the overall design experience of the game. Pay attention the very end of the video below and you will see that behind the hat there is a battery connector you can pull to deactivate the hat from automatically talking each time the box is opened. You will need to disconnect the battery so you can store the game and not get random Mr. Monopoly dialog coming from your game shelf.
Gameplay is definitely changed with the addition of voice control to Monopoly as Mr. Monopoly responds with his own voice and keeps track of all the player transactions.
- Monopoly meets voice recognition: in this electronic Monopoly voice banking game, Mr. Monopoly is the Banker and manages players’ money via his top hat.
- Talk, Mr. Monopoly listens: press the button, and say a command like, “pay rent on Marvin gardens”; Mr. Monopoly will respond and move the payment to an opponent’s account.
- Faster gameplay: players land on a forced trade space and tell Mr. Monopoly which properties they want to trade..
- Build sets quicker.
- No need for cash or bank cards: the Mr. Monopoly banking unit manages all finances whether it’s buying properties, paying and receiving rent, checking balances, and more, and get those houses and hotels up faster.
Monopoly Voice Banking Components
- Top Hat Banking Unit
- 4 Tokens
- 16 Title Deed Cards
- 1 Get Out Of Jail Free Card
- 4 Reference Cards
- 8 Houses
- 12 Hotels
- 2 Dice
- Game Guide
How to Play Monopoly Voice Banking
When you first start the game (especially if you just jump into playing with only the cue cards in front of each player to guide you) it is a little confusing at first to figure out what parts of the game are still managed and controlled by the players and what is now managed by the Mr. Monopoly computer/voice. Luckily, the instruction manual and the cue cards provided with the game are there to explain it all, and they do so very effectively.
I’ll save you the time of reading through all of the instructions and summarize it this way. The new voice control feature now manages the following aspects of the game:
- Buying of property (keeps track of the money transaction and the bookkeeping of which player owns which property).
- Manages the flow of property auctions (just like a real auctioneer).
- Manages the flow of cash when rent needs to be collected (identifies both the amount due and the players that are involved in the rent transaction).
- Manages payment of “pass Go” to each player, but the player still has to disclose to Mr. Monopoly that they have “passed Go”.
- Manages the assignment of “Chance Cards” to players, but the players still have to disclose that they landed on a “Chance” space on the board.
- Manages the new “Train Ride” feature of the game. When a player lands on a railroad they no longer pay rent, the railroad instead transports them to another random property space on the game board.
- Manages the process of paying or using a “Get Out Of Jail Free” card to get our of jail.
- Manages player-to-player trading of property (both the bookkeeping of the property assignments and any money that may be involved). Trades are now only allowed when a player lands on the “Trade” space on the game board.
- Purchasing a house or a hotel (keeps track of which property is upgraded and the funds exchanged to do so).
- Mr. Monopoly can also answer basic questions about the game like a player’s current balance and who is currently winning.
After going through several rounds of players’ turns we started getting the hang of the keywords you needed to use with Mr. Monopoly when performing one of the gaming actions I listed above. We caught on pretty quickly and the flow of the game started to feel more natural as we the game went on. Taking the complication out of having to manually manage money and property transactions really does speed up the game and it lets you focus a bit more on strategy.
Speaking of strategy, your strategy for purchasing properties does change due to some of the rule changes associated with Monopoly Voice Banking. Rule changes were made to speed up game play, and I will say those changes are effective. Here are the changes:
- Fewer property spaces on the game board and color sets now max out at 2 instead of 3 (or 4 if you count railroads and railroads in this game are not owned by the players).
- The smaller game board means you “pass Go” more often in the same amount of time when compared to the original game board (higher earning potential).
- Rent of just the basic properties has gone up significantly making each purchase of a property a more significant event in the game (even if a house or hotel is never added to that property).
- Increase in basic rent also downplays the importance of property improvement (houses and hotels), but there is still a large strategic advantage to buying houses and hotels.
- Elimination of multiple houses. Now you buy one house and then you can upgrade to a hotel.
- Addition of a “trade” space on the board which gives the player to ability to trade of their properties for any property of any other player for a small fee (this actually makes it less likely for a single player to dominate the game with a property monopoly long-term).
- Changing the railroad spaces into a space that randomly transports you to another location on the board.
- Rent payment when running out of money is simplified by allowing the transfer of a single property to the player owed rent regardless of the amount owed (with or without a combination of money).
Why You Should Play Monopoly Voice Banking
This new variant of Monopoly is a very welcome addition because it is now a much more approachable game for a wider audience. You can tell a lot of thought went into the design of this new variation on Monopoly. Gameplay is faster and more inviting to players who are not die-hard Monopoly fans and are turned off by long and arduous games. At first glance it would be easy to assume that, by eliminating the physical exchange of paper money and the “in-your-head” calculation when providing change to other players, there would be a lost opportunity for teaching young players basic economics. But when looking at the game a little closer, it teaches you to always keep in mind your current balance (which in the game is digital now just like it is for most people in real life who use debit, credit, and contactless payment methods) and in fact it is each player’s responsibility to ask Mr. Monopoly for their current balance (much like the owner of a debit or credit card)… a lesson we all need to take to heart in today’s digital economy.
- Much faster game play.
- Eliminates the manual management of paper money and property exchanges, but physical property cards are still used so players can see at a glance what every other player owns.
- Effective implementation of voice control with only one minor error made by Mr. Monopoly in our game (and the controller has a dedicated “undo” button to fix the rare occasion when Mr. Monopoly makes a mistake).
- Voice recognition is extremely accurate from a distance, which means you don’t have to speak up or lean inwards when interacting with Mr. Monopoly.
- Somehow the voice of Mr. Monopoly sounds just like I imagined he would sound and it adds a nice soundtrack to the game.
- Individual player buttons can be hard to distinguish (adding different colors would help).
- All player tokens are the same color making it very easy to mistake one player’s token for another (different colored player tokens would solve this con and the one above it).
- A relatively quiet environment is needed in order to not confuse Mr. Monopoly, so a lot of background conversation or noise requires you to wait until it gets quiet, which can delay the pace of the game.
Monopoly Voice Banking is available for sale now for approximately $30 on Amazon as well as many other online and physical stores were family board games are sold.
Disclaimer: A demo unit of the game was provided for the purpose of this review, but Hasbro had no input into the review content.
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