It’s one of the most enduring names in the world of board games: Monopoly. It’s been adapted several times for PCs and consoles over the years as well, and now Ubisoft’s given us a brand new take on the formula with Monopoly Madness – out now on all major platforms.
The title certainly had us intrigued, because the inclusion of “madness” had us thinking this was going to be a bit Mario Party-like in terms of pacing, something quite different from your average board game session of Monopoly where clever plotting and a bit of luck are the keys to success over the course of a lengthy session.
You still duke it out for possession of property here, so on that front Monopoly Madness stays true to its roots. The way you go about getting them? Very different. This is where the game takes on a bit of a Super Smash Brothers vibe and stops feeling like the classic board game. Properties that are available can randomly pop up, and when you get there you can try and bid on it – or outbid the player who got there first, as long as he or she doesn’t knock you out of the way before you can do so.
Power-ups also change the game in a very ‘videogamey’ kind of way – letting you steal properties or block others from doing so. And this wouldn’t be a Monopoly game if money wasn’t also a factor in all that. You’ll generate it from the properties you own, but you can also pick up resources from the game board if you’re fast enough. Spending your earnings on building upgrades means you’ll earn more money from them, so with the right decisions there’s a lot of Monopoly to see in between the more frantic moments.
Monopoly Madness can be played solo in an objective-driven campaign, but it’s essentially always the same game that tells you to play it in different ways. One objective will tell you to control as many properties as possible, while another wants you to focus on upgrading them. After a while, it feels like a bit of an extended tutorial, and the real fun is in the game’s multiplayer support – which is something best enjoyed locally as we’re not expecting this to be a game with a vibrant online community, though perhaps the upcoming holidays will be an exception to that.
The biggest problem that Monopoly Madness has is that it feels a little like a Monopoly-themed minigame that was expanded upon rather than a full fledged experience. It’s fun, easy to get into and has enough nods to the famous board game, but at the end of the day it lacks the depth of the original, so the game’s lasting appeal is going to be a bit limited. A successful blend of the classic board game and Smash Brothers, but not as likely to become family party staples.