Review: Monopoly (NES)

In this review, we give one of the many Monopoly games a try. In this case, we are rolling with the NES version to see what this board game is like.

Released in 1991, Monopoly released on the NES was one of the countless video game versions of this board game.

The rules are pretty much exactly like what you’d find in a standard Monopoly board game set.

One element in this game is that you can have up to 8 players play in the same game. They can be all human players, mostly computer players, or any combination of the two. Eight human players playing the same game on a NES is unheard of because there’s only a standard two slots on a console. With the Four Score adapter, you can only get up to 4 players on the same game. One advantage this game has, though, is that it’s turn based, so that is probably the only reason so many human players can technically play.

If you opt to include computer players, you can select 1 of the 8 computer persona’s that are available via the large paintings.

While it it possible to more or less game the system against computer players, it is, I found, a bit difficult to do unless you get incredibly lucky in the process. One thing I found with having 7 other computer players is that there is next to no chance anyone can get a complete set of properties simply by buying it from the bank. This left me using the trading system as the only avenue to get those full sets. Ultimately, I spent hours trying to gain that slight edge over other players by completing a set, but it seemed that no one was willing to budge for hours. Since no one had complete sets, there wasn’t enough penalties for landing on opponent players properties to really cause anyone to run the risk of going bankrupt – even for the two players with a single property on hand. As the hours ticked by, everyone ended up building back up to $1,000, then $2,000. When everyone was hovering around $3,000 to $4,000, I decided to try simply buying the properties outright with cash since I wasn’t willing to part with any of my five properties (I got really lucky with that from the start). I tried paying well above market value, but to no avail until I started to allow the values to reach anywhere between $1,000 to $3,000 per property. That’s definitely steep for pretty much any property, but it was worth it since I was gradually tilting the odds into my favor. One of the computer players ended up foolishly selling a property I needed for about $2,600. At that point, houses and hotels were practically pocket change. As soon as I built the properties up, the money started flying in. I then tried the same process with other properties and it seemed that I reached a threshold in property value as a few more properties landed in my hands. A few more hotels later and it was only a matter of time before the money was whittled down for one computer player who fortunately ended his run on one of my hotels. Extra properties in hand, I built up what I could and just chipped away at the competition. One by one, the opponents were sent to the streets and I managed to clean out the bank of hotels (I was surprised when I found out there was actually a limit). By the end of the game, I had control over all but one set of properties and prevented the last remaining survivor from completing a second on the cheapest properties. Eventually, the last straggler landed on Boardwalk and I pulled the last remaining cash out of her, bankrupting her and beating the game. Definitely didn’t think in those hours that I could just buy my victory, but that’s what it ended up being.

One opponent will substantially shorten the game, of course. At that point, it’s simply a coin toss who wins. A four player game with three computer players was the third game I tried, but couldn’t quite edge out the competition. I was, however, able to hang on for second place as the computer player ahead of me had an incredibly unlucky roll, ending his game early and handing the game to an already dominant computer player. Again, it was just a matter of time before I landed on one of his hotels that parted me with my last tiny slice of money. When one player had three players worth of cash and properties, you pretty much have no shot at winning.

So, I don’t think there’s any one winning strategy because my attempt at buying my way through the game failed in the four player game (probably because I couldn’t get enough cash to pull off the stunt). Still, there’s probably a host of strategies a player can try for beyond just the standard buying as many properties as possible at the beginning. Definitely a part of what makes this game fun.

Graphically, this game wasn’t bad. I liked the little animations that went along with this game. The cards from Community Chest and Chance are all animated. There’s an additional cash register and a US government building that will happily chomp away at your money every time you are parted with your money. The whole scene of selecting a computer opponent was nicely done. Even the end game scenarios were pretty well done for a NES game. I don’t think I really have much to say other than SNES was around at this time, showing off more powerful graphics on some games at this time. So, while good for the console in question, it’s merely decent for the time.

The audio was actually impressive for the NES. The music was a bit lacking in that it only had a handful of repetitive tracks for different elements in the game. Beyond that, it had a few jungles, but it’s generally the same thing over and over again. I found nothing wrong with the sound effects. In fact, some of the deficiencies in the music was somewhat made up by the humorous voice samples (getting out of jail to name one good one). Again, since SNES was around at this time, it made this game good, not amazing.

Overall, Monopoly offers a nice amount of versatility to the classic board game. With up to 8 players being able to play, there are a lot of dynamic ways you can affect the game. The graphics and audio were impressive for the console, but since SNES was around, better graphics can be had in a game during this time. Still, it was a pretty good game all around. Certainly enjoyable.


Furthest point in game: Won against 1 and 8 computer opponents. Got 2nd place with 4 computer opponents. Highest total money won was $49,000.

General gameplay: 20/25
Replay value: 8/10
Graphics: 7/10
Audio: 4/5

Overall rating: 78%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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