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August 10, 2011 / jwaxo

Monopoly CD-ROM (Games That Already Were Games)

It even provided the “vroom” noises for you!

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before (except for a passing reference in terms of things we’d sell in garage sales), but I kind of have this huge love of board games. The more complicated they are, the more I love ’em. My current obsession is with a little ol’ game called Arkham Horror: games take an average of five hours, there are at least four different decks of cards, player abilities, enemies, two boards to crawl across, and more expansion packs than you can spend your entire paycheck on. Cthulhu’s an evil dude, and someone has to defeat him.

In fact, the first “thing” that I ever really wrote was a book adaptation of this game called The Key to the Kingdom, a fantasy game that involved traveling around the board in search of a few randomly placed items. I loved it, but the rest of my family found it incredibly boring. Naturally I wrote a short story about it that was also incredibly boring.

In this story, myself and our friend from down the street were playing the board game when suddenly we were sucked into the game!!!1! We then traveled around the board, following the rules, gathered up the items necessary to win, and managed to just barely escape.

It wasn’t until I was reading the story to my third grade class that I realized how poor an idea it was. All of the other third graders had awesome Peter Rabbit type tales with lessons to be learned and tricky little characters while I spent the time explaining the rules in prose form and insisting that the character in the book wasn’t named after a kid in my class but the boy from down the street.

I also had a poor grasp of where shoulders were on people.

This blog post isn’t really about video games that are poorly adapted from other sources. I feel like I’ve covered that from both the bad and the good angles. It is, however, about board games. And poor adaptations of them. So that counts, I suppose.

The game in question, of course, is Monopoly. Funny, earlier I was mentioning complicated games that take forever in terms of Arkham Horror, but the classic example of that is really Monopoly. Sure, the rules are ostensibly simple: travel around the board, collect $200 every time you pass Go, land on properties and either buy them or pay the owners. Simple as that. But we all know the truth, don’t we? It’s no simple game. There are the matters of trades, what to do with Free Parking, which properties are actually worth hanging onto and which ones aren’t, which ones to build on…

I’m not sure if I’ve ever finished a Monopoly game. Not truly. It’s always clear who’s going to win after a certain point. Usually my brother, because he tricked us into making horrible trades with him.

You know, 10 hours in or so.

We got Monopoly CD-ROM for Christmas one year. Possibly. Or we saved up for it and bought it from a bargain bin. Or maybe it was in an Easter basket one Easter morning. It’s easy to forget, because it was a forgettable game.

I say this with a completely straight face despite knowing I clocked about five hundred hours into the game and can remember stupid details about it.

The thing is, there were a lot of cool things about it. It played this sweet jazz music. Each piece had a unique movement and animation for it. It attached rendered 3D scenes to each property that I still imagine in detail when playing, which slowly got littered with buildings as you built them.

The garbage dumps of Baltic Ave are nowhere near as glitzy as the butterfly-littered Marvin Gardens.

And yet… again, I don’t know if I ever finished a game, not without cheating. The only enjoyment I got from it was from the stuff that had nothing to do with the actual Monopoly game: the animations, the 3D stuff, the funny stuff the cards did when you drew them.

The same problem happened again when we picked up Sorry a year or so later. Obviously it was less pronounced, as games could actually be finished within this lifetime, but the entire point of playing wasn’t to do things with people, to have fun picking up your pieces or shuffling the deck: it was in the funny things the pawns said as they moved around the board and the interesting ways the cards shuffled.

My main point is that these games already were games. Why would you need to adapt them? The only argument I can think of is internet play. I played Settlers of Catan a couple times online, and that was fun enough. But I get a lot more enjoyment out of traveling a state away, a boardgame tucked safely in the passenger seat, just to sit down with some beers and battle the forces of darkness together.

At the bottom line, what you’re paying for are those things that entertained 9-year-old me: the extra animations and sounds. Things you already get with other, less monotonous computer games, or even the more cumbersome websites.

Ironically (if you agree with me on these points), I hear creating a computer game version of Arkham Horror is a task often given to computer science college students.

Personally, I would rather not have a visualization of what goes on in that game.

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6 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. Maria / Aug 11 2011 6:03 AM

    For me board games translated into a virtual format mean never having to stop the game to straighten cards that cats have set awry. It is amazing how uneasy I get when cards are slightly askew.

    • jwaxo / Aug 11 2011 6:39 AM

      See, I enjoy straightening the cards myself. There is a deep satisfaction from maintaining the board and its pieces.

  2. Anonymous / Sep 11 2012 7:17 PM

    Can you give me the information on the CD ROM monopoly game you played? I played the same game but can’t find it and kinda wanna see if I can get it somewhere lol

    • jwaxo / Sep 11 2012 10:28 PM

      Sorry dude, I don’t have much beyond “Monopoly for Windows.” Here’s a link to a Mobygames article on it, if that might help you. I couldn’t find it, either, when I was “researching” this post.

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