N64 Connoisseur

Remastered Review- N64 Review #7- Monopoly

Can you feel it? We are getting ever so close to the end of the quest to unite the first eight Nintendo 64 reviews with the rest of the project. After this review, just one more until the entire band is back together and I can continue on my merry way until all 296 games have fallen to my keyboard. Consider the remastering of these eight reviews like grinding in an RPG before you move forward but in a fun, hopefully enjoyable way. The seventh review was for a perennial favorite of mine. It’s a game I pick up for every console I own. I even have it on my Xbox One. On August 25, 2013, I originally reviewed Monopoly.

On episode 49 of 1 More Podcastle, I mentioned that I had recently acquired Monopoly for the N64. Here is an interesting fact about me: I hate board games. They just make me squirm. Here is a more interesting fact about me: I LOVE board game video games. I know. It doesn’t make any sense. I accept that. Monopoly is one of the board games that I most love the video game adaptations of and that is good news because there is one for pretty much every console and platform ever made. For review number seven, I decided to give the Nintendo 64 Monopoly a whirl.

You should hope to look this good when you're his age.

You should hope to look this good when you’re his age.

When I first turn on a Monopoly game, I expect to be treated to some sort of very tycoon-ish Monopoly music, the NES and most recent PC versions being a prime example of how that should sound. That was not the case here. The title screen music for this game is a barely audible, generic beat that evolves into an equally generic in game soundtrack, although you can at least actually hear it then. Since I started with music, I might as well move right into sounds. The sound effects here are annoying but with that said, I get what they were trying to do. Each game piece has its own animation which I’ll get to in just a second. To accompany that, each piece also has its own sound.

The problem with that is, they went a bit too far into detail. For example, the Wheelbarrow squeaks very badly and it makes you want to choke something. Even for the pieces that have noises that don’t annoy, they get old and tired very quickly and by very quickly, I mean within two to three times around the board. If you turn off the game piece animations, instead the sound effect of your piece magically moving to the correct space is twice as annoying as any of the game piece animations.

Visually, this game is stunning. I was surprised at how beautiful this game was, not just for an N64 title, which is surprising in itself, but for Monopoly games in general. It has aged tremendously well. What they did with each game piece is instead of just making the same standard game piece models, they personified each piece and brought it to life. The pieces almost look like  they were designed by Rare and it added a whole lot to the personality of this game. As I mentioned earlier, you can turn on walking animations for each piece and each one will move around the board in a unique way. For example, the dog will playfully bound around the board, while the money bag will move slower and thud onto each space because he is heavy and full of money. It again added a personality to each piece and it was very well done.

The fact that there is square shadow far larger than this round character gives me hope that he is about to be crushed by a comically oversized anvil.

The fact that there is square shadow far larger than this round character gives me hope that he is about to be crushed by a comically oversized anvil.

If I had one complaint visually, it was the center of the board. It doesn’t look like a Monopoly board should. You can’t see the Chance and Community Chest cards. It is just green with a Monopoly logo. On the bright side, when you do land on Chance or Community Chest, you are treated a fully 3D Monopoly Guy holding the card up for you and they nailed the design of him. There were also a couple of things missing from the animation department. There were no animations for building houses or hotels and there were none for the exchange of money other than words on the screen. That is disappointing considering the NES could do animations for it and somehow the N64 couldn’t. Also, those game piece animations? Not skippable. That made for some long games.

This game plays like Monopoly. By now, we are or should all be familiar with how the game is played so I’m not going to go into that part. There is the normal set of rules or you can manipulate them to your liking. I always like to double the allowance for landing on GO, personally. As in every Monopoly game I have ever played, the computer opponent will incessantly attempt to trade with you no matter how many times you say no if you hold the one property that stops them from having a Monopoly. It is annoying, but it is hard to fault this game in particular for that when every one before it and since does the exact same thing. Would it be so difficult to let us mark a property as not tradeable? The problem I ran into is that the trade screen just sort of pops up out of nothingness and you rarely expect it so what happened to me was, I had at least one piece in every color group and one Monopoly. I was fully content with watching him die a slow death as he landed on my hotels again and again. Up popped one of those surprise trades and me expecting to be prompted to roll the dice pushed A and executed a trade I didn’t want. Super. Now he has a Monopoly and I wound up losing that game.

Overall, despite its flaws, this is Monopoly. It is fun and I do recommend it, especially if you have some friends over or are looking for a fun night with your family. One of the major draws to board games in general is that they have always been a great way for families to spend time together and I think the same holds true here. Plus, think of all the cleanup you won’t have to do once the game is over.