Monopoly: Here & Now Edition (iPhone & iPod Touch)

As the iPhone establishes itself as a player in the portable gaming wars, it makes sense that some of the world’s most loved games make its way in the form of releases for the device. Electronic Arts have taken it upon themselves to port the decades-old game “Monopoly” to the young system, a job that has been undertaken by big names including Westwood, Sega, and Hasbro, and Atari.

At a price of $5.99 AUD, it’s not really an expensive game. The question is have EA done a good job and is it worth your money?

Ah yes... Monopoly. Who could forget this old classic?

Ah yes... Monopoly. Who could forget this old classic?

The first thing you’ll notice about Monopoly: Here & Now is the 3D engine EA have graced the game with. It’s fairly slick and is featured in almost every aspect of the game. Even the menu sits on top of the 3D board game with just about the only part not being placed under it being the cards and the trading part of the game.

The next thing you’ll notice is that this isn’t Monopoly as you probably remember it. As a sign of the times, the “Here & Now” edition changed everyone’s favourite Park Place and Boardwalk landmarks and replaces them with “Riga” and “Montreal.” Instead of being the same Monopoly game we all played as kids, this is supposed to be the evolved edition.

But while about everything about the board has changed, the game’s core still remains the same. The money has increased but only in sheet amounts, the mere thousands it used to cost to buy land now requiring millions. Don’t be concerned though, as you get more money. It’s still the same basic formula applied to larger quantities of money, like adding a few extra zero’s to the end of whatever sum Monopoly originally came with.

There are animations for nearly everything including each of the player statue pieces you can choose as well as that whole “landing in jail” thing every Monopoly player except the most broke of them all dreads. You can even elect to shake your device to emulate the shaking of the dice (I turned this off because much like Yahtzee! on the same device, it has the tendency to register even the slightest movement as a dice toss, sometimes when you don’t want it to).

Just like the original... except now with added floating "M" thingies...

Just like the original... except now with added floating "M" thingies...

But one thing that is lacking is fun.

Somewhere between making the AI either are too predictable or just not challenging enough, the developers have made a good looking game that lacks any real reason to play it other than you being incredibly bored.

It’s not that Monopoly on the iPhone & iPod Touch is a bad game. Far from it, in fact. No, it’s more that it’s an un-fun game. It looks like it could fill a void and a be a decent game of Monopoly in the same way that the old Sega Genesis version was, but it just doesn’t have the running power, especially not when we’re playing games in transit. It feels too convoluted, too overdone, and lacks the basic charm that made the original such a classic.

It doesn’t help that it feels like the 3D engine slows the game to an absolute crawl and tends to chew right through that battery power we iPhone users have to clutch on to dear life for as it is at the moment.

While many of the effects can be turned off to speed the game up, it doesn’t seem to offer any real challenge unless you decide to play against a friend, something that you can elect to do. Mind you, if you decide to do that, you may as well get the real board game out as it’s a lot more enjoyable playing for real.