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Saturday, June 15, 2024

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Ryan’s Corner: Monopoly for Switch

Ah…It’s been a while since I’ve done a Ryan’s Corner for a single game rather than a community topic. For some reason I’ve always had some kind of fascination with Monopoly. I don’t just mean the board game; I own multiple video game conversions of it. I even own a Monopoly LCD game which is probably one of the more ambitious ones I’ve ever seen. My personal favorite is Westwood’s Windows 95 version for reasons primarily revolving around its presentation but I’d be lying if I said that’s the one I’ve been playing lately. That honor goes to the variation of Monopoly recently released on Nintendo Switch brought to us by Ubisoft and Asobo. I think this one was also released as part of a Hasbro pack on Playstation 4 and Xbox One but I digress.

When Monopoly first made its Switch debut, I was skeptical. I heard horror stories about the game’s extraordinarily long loading times, and there was no way I was going to pay $39.99 for a conversion of a board game that retails for $19.99. Fortunately, it seemed the higher-ups have heard my thoughts through some sort of mind-reader. Not only were the loading times patched to be drastically shortened but a sale at Target priced this game at $19.99 – the same as the board game. I caved in at that point and it’s safe to say I’ve gotten my money’s worth.

The reason why I didn’t make this a full-on review is because I feel like Monopoly by itself is a touchy subject; you either love it or hate it and the only people that would care about this are already intimately familiar with the board game. Having a video game version in any fashion is automatically up to the person that decides to play it on a television screen than a game board. After all, the video game conversion of just about any board game usually has everything down-pat regarding how the original functions as a board game. Of course, Monopoly on the Switch is no exception to that rule.

On its own, Monopoly for Switch has a pleasant presentation. I know it’s ironic for these games to be so inviting despite blatantly being about the horrible effects of monopolization and greed. Man, these boards are so colorful and detailed! At the very least it seems to keep that CD-ROM-esque whimsicality alive. You could also play on the classic board which has a smoother framerate making up for its relative lack of flashiness. There’s also a Rabbids version of the classic board for…some reason. The game itself is playable with up to six people locally and online. The former definitely has a lot of potential for friends and family sharing the same couch, but my family usually sticks with the real board game.

Here’s the thing: Online play in just about any game I enjoy is an instant time-sink for me. Monopoly on Nintendo Switch features that and boy did I spend hours upon hours with it! What made Monopoly extra special as a game I play online is that unlike other games I have such as Puyo Puyo Tetris and Mario Kart 8, it doesn’t require constant reflexes and actions for me to engage other players. Because I could wait my turn and then plan from there, I’ve been able to successfully multitask whenever necessary.

If I’m writing an article here on TICGN or working on stuff like my own games, there’s a 90% chance I’m playing Monopoly at the same time. While I did do this with the Windows 95 Monopoly every once in a while, playing against actual human opponents online and competing in the leaderboards adds so much more incentive to go back to it than just facing AI over and over again.

Adding to its replayability are the other rules that could be customized in the game, depending on who is the host of the server. You could enable Action Cards for some chaotic moves to be made, rules like extra money when landing on go or being forced to auction properties, or – if you’re sadistic enough – apply House rules that can extend the length of the game by several excruciating hours. You know the kind: Free Parking providing all the money in the bank, Go providing double if you land on it, etc. Guys, stop playing this way. It’s not how the game was intended to be played; play the real way and you’ll see Monopoly isn’t the elongated marathon you think. That said, if you play online in this Switch version and see any server that says “Free Parking Cash”, steer clear from it.

Other than that, it’s surprising how much mileage I’ve gotten from this particular take on Monopoly. It’s an actual force to be reckoned with among my Switch library thanks to the online functionality and I think fans of the board game should pick it up as well. For the right price, anyway – I highly suggest not going after it for a price higher than the $19.99 price tag the real thing comes with.

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