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Publisher: GameHouse    Genre: Board & Card
Min OS X: 10.3    CPU: G4    RAM: 256 MB    Hard Disk: 28 MB    Graphics: 1024x768 @ 32-bit

January 17, 2008 | Richard Hallas

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There are times when I am accused of being a cynic. "Surely not!" I hear you respond, and I thank you for your charitable reaction, but I must confess: it is true. I am indeed a cynic, and I even take pride in my cynicism, for it is so often proved to be well-founded.

Why am I opening a game review with such a personal observation? It's because I can think of few games that are more cynical, both in terms of their rules and their background history, than Monopoly. Don't get me wrong; I love the game, and have been playing it for most of my life. But although (or perhaps because) it claims to be the world's favorite board game, it also has a very chequered history that embodies greed and exploitation. At least that matches the nature of the game itself! There isn't room here for a history lesson, but if you do want to know more, there are lots of interesting sites to be found through your favourite search engine, and books such as The Billion Dollar Monopoly Swindle to read. (For lighter reading relating to the London edition, I'd heartily recommend the thoroughly entertaining Do Not Pass Go by Tim Moore, which is ceaselessly hilarious.)

But I digress. A game as widely and enduringly popular as Monopoly can only be a loudly-mooing, grass-gorged, milk-dripping cash cow, so it's hardly a surprise that its basic formula has been exploited for all it's worth. A brief look at Wikipedia reveals that there are literally dozens of special editions of the game, leaving aside all the different localised versions for different countries, cities and languages. We have multiple Star Wars and Star Trek editions, we have versions devoted to football teams and cartoon characters, editions based on films such as the 007 series, and there was even a '.com' set, released in tribute to the late-90s Internet boom (really). And if that weren't enough, you can even use the My Monopoly service to create your very own personalised board, with custom-printed property names; if you're willing to pay a hefty premium for the privilege, of course.

If there are countless editions of the physical board game, there are also, or have been over the years, vast numbers of computer implementations of the game, too. The last Mac version I reviewed was for IMG back in 2001, and the review can still be found on the site (now named as Monopoly (2002), with the wrong year in its title!). But there have must have been at least one implementation (and often multiple) for any vaguely recent computer you can think of. The first computer version of the game that I played was for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum in the mid-1980s, but my favorite implementation to date is, improbably enough, the one for the Psion Series 3 personal organiser, released in the mid-1990s: the graphics may not have been great, but the implementation was the best I've yet seen.

Given the vast revenue generated by Monopoly sales over the years, though, I have to wonder why it is that I have yet to be truly satisfied by any computer implementation. As I said, the version I liked best was the Psion PDA one, but the tiny mono screen was the big disadvantage there. Even so, no computer version that I've seen since has come close to it in terms of getting the interface, game features and quality of play just right. They're all too limited, or too superficially glitzy, or they just fail to implement properly the sorts of features I want to see. And I'm afraid that the latest version of Monopoly from GameHouse falls into all three of those critical categories.


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