Mario, Shells and Coins! Oh My!
by Derek Funkhouser
June 30, 2017, 7:56am
Designer: Unknown Genius
Players: 2 - 4
Time: 30-60 min
Monopoly Gamer is the newest retheme of Monopoly with all new, unique mechanics.
in the box
Ahead of its wide retail release, Hasbro has released a special, Collector’s Edition of Monopoly Gamer. What makes the Collector’s Edition (CE) so special? Let’s find out!
Coins! Mario’s favorite currency gets a huge upgrade from punchboard to plastic. These little devils bounce around as often as you see in the video games. They are well made, for plastic coins, and are a nice visual and tactile upgrade.
Bowser! King Koopa himself. One of the most iconic “bad guys” in the video game universe, Bowser is ONLY available in the CE and will not be offered in the wider retail release.
4th Wall Break: Ya know, I often wonder if the bad guys are just misunderstood. I mean, maybe Bowser just didn’t get enough hugs as a kid? The spiked shell would definitely make that difficult…
Character insert! Also included in the CE is a thoughtfully planned insert. Wait, those are a thing? You mean this insert doesn’t go straight from box to trash? No, it doesn’t and that surprised me. The character insert will allow you to store all 5 of your Mario heroes and Heroines (Plus all the add-on characters)!
The board! Well, this is just a board. Nothing spectacular as it is still just Monopoly but I will say the art is a cool nod to the whole Mario theme. It is a little small, and can get cluttered with all the coins dropping.
The Rulebook: Let’s talk about something that is likely the most overlooked component of ANY game. Hasbro not only hit a home-run, but they also scored a touchdown, threw down an MJ wind-mill slam dunk and bent it like Beckham for a top corner goal. I’m serious; this is the nicest, cleanest and best designed rule-book to date. It’s a hybrid linen/plastic feel throughout and they included a fun “sticker book” and character bios in the back of it. They really went above and beyond my expectations.
4th Wall Break: To all game publishers and designers, I know that Hasbro is one of the largest game companies in the world but seriously, they just looked at the board game world and said, “Hey bro, we see your games. Don’t forget who really runs this town.” These components are top notch and all for $40. I have a feeling we will see these rulebook layouts from other top publishers soon.
Monopoly. To some, this is an unspoken word in gaming circles and communities. It can rival or surpass talking of Voldemor-, I mean He Who Must Not Be Named. I was skeptical myself, but my love of Nintendo diminished my blind hatred and I took the plunge; I am so glad I did. Could nostalgia, novelty and light-hearted fun erase hours of dreadful memories? Is this a game for you? I hope to answer that question, so let’s find out!
The Basics and What's New?
4th Wall Break: At this point, if you are still with me, congratulations! You’re on your way to beating your vehement and irrational hatred towards Monopoly!
Let’s talk about the elephant in the room. Monopoly. You’re all wondering, “Derek, just shut up and tell us why this is different.” Ok, geez, you don’t have to be a jerk about it. Monopoly Gamer is still, at its core, Monopoly. HOWEVER (this is important, because it’s in caps), it doesn’t feel like it!
On your turn, you roll and move. If you pass over any coins dropped on a space, pick them up. Simple. Except when you roll, you also use the Power-Up Die!
This Power-Up die lets you activate an ability on your turn. In fact, you can use the ability in any order you choose, e.g. before or after movement. The abilities are:
Red Shell: Choose any player to drop 3 coins on their current location.
Green Shell: The next player in front of you drops 3 coins on their current location.
Blooper: Steal 2 coins from any player.
POW: All other players drop 1 coin on their current location.
COINS: Collect 3 coins from the bank.
This Power-Up die is also directly linked to each character. Each character has a Power-Up and a Star ability. When you roll your Power-Up ability, you can also activate it!
4th Wall Break: The Power-Up abilities are a ton of fun. It really feels like you are in a race akin to Mario Kart!
After movement, there are various spaces you can land on. Each property, like normal monopoly, has a rent value, but Hasbro did something no one saw coming. They removed houses and hotels. Wait, what? YES.
This streamlines the game into a fast paced, take that race to the finish. When you land on an unowned property, you can buy or auction it as normal. If you land on an owned property, you pay the printed cost of the rent (double if they own both properties of a color) and move on. But wait! You landed on a Warp Pipe, Coin Block, Thwomp or Super Star! Here is what the new spaces do:
Warp Pipe: Advance clockwise to the next pipe, picking up any coins on the board. If you pass GO, collect 2 coins and fight a boss!
Coin Block: Roll the numbered die and collect that many Coins from the bank.
Thwomp: You were smashed! Drop 2 coins.
Super Star: When you land here, activate your character’s unique Super Star ability. These tend to be ways to "bend" the rules of the game.
Go To Jail: Dang it Monopoly, you still had to include Jail? *sigh* At least it’s easier to get out! Pay 5 coins and roll as normal or press your luck and attempt to roll a 6! If you fail after 2 attempts, you are free to go. See, that wasn’t so bad after all. (I’m kidding, Jail still isn’t fun. Stay in school, kids.)
Free Parking: Still doesn’t do anything! For you house-rulers out there, maybe it’s time to think of fun and innovative uses. I have a few ideas up my sleeves…
GO: If you land on or pass GO, collect 2 coins AND FIGHT A BOSS. Wait, what? A boss? Yeah! Boss fights are the timing mechanism for the game. No longer will you sit in misery for hours as you waste your time and money. After the last boss is defeated, the game is immediately over! There are 8 bosses in the game. In 2-3 players, 6 bosses are used (removing the 1 and 2 card boss from the game) and in 4 players, you fight them all!
Party Mode: The exclusive add-on characters are not necessary to enjoy the base game, though they are fun! The characters add variety to keep the game interesting. If you happen to grab all the characters, there is a Party Mode feature where each player choose 2-3 characters. During the game, each player can choose who to place on the board in order to allow them to take full advantage of the variety of unique player powers! It's a lot of fun and a nice addition.
When you land on or pass GO, you trigger a boss fight at the end of your turn. Flip over the top card of the Boss deck and place it where everyone can see it. You have 2 choices: Fight or Flight.
If you choose to fight, pay the roll cost in coins to the bank (sometimes you pay the boss) and roll! If you roll equal to or higher than the requirement, you win! Take the card and you’ll be awarded points at the end of the game. If you lose the fight, the player to your left can choose to fight or pass.
If you pass, you cannot enter back into the fight! This continues until someone, ANYONE, beats the boss or can no longer pay to do so. Seriously, just beat it already because if no one does, the boss escapes!
4th Wall Break: This is the high risk/high reward part of the game. It’s a blast watching everyone try to roll to beat the boss, losing coins in the process. Oh, did I mention that whoever beats the boss gets to use a special boss ability? Stealing, trading and selling other player’s properties? The stakes are high; you don’t want to lose.
Ending and Winning the Game
The game ends when the Final Boss Fight is over which is 6 or 8 rounds, depending on the number of players. To determine the winner, add up the points from your property cards, Boss cards, and Coins. Every 5 coins is worth 10 points!
Sustains and improves
Sustains (The Good)
- Unique and interesting Power-Ups and Character abilities!
- Boss Fights!
- No houses and hotels!
- Incredible rulebook quality.
- Components are top-notch.
- An insert that…WORKS.
- It’s fast and fun!
Improves (The Bad)
- High variance of luck and chance.
- Adding “additional” characters as Power Packs. I can’t fault capitalism or Hasbro, because it worked, I bought them.
- Player markers for the property spaces would make it easier to see who owns each property.
- The property cards seem out of place. They are thick card-stock. It would’ve been nice to have linen cards, to match the overall component quality.
- MORE CHARACTERS PLEASE. Waluigi, Shy Guy, etc. Maybe even add other Nintendo franchises i.e. Legend of Zelda, Metroid, etc. (I foresee this happening…)
- Lack of Bananas to throw makes me sad.
Monopoly Gamer is a game inspired by Monopoly. It's unconventional. At its heart, it is Monopoly but it’s so much more. I honestly can’t remember the last time I laughed, smiled and enjoyed playing Monopoly. The game pace is fast; it plays as quickly as King of Tokyo. The unique mechanics make it interesting and the Mario theme makes my inner kid jump for joy. There will be folks who dismiss this as a cash grab, a game for only the “nostalgic and novelty” players, or for anyone except the die-hard board gamer. They are wrong.
This is a game for people who want to have fun, and enjoy creating memories with friends and family. Is it still Monopoly? Yes, it has high luck and crazy, wild turns but it plays so quickly that none of that matters. It’s so far removed from the original version of Monopoly that it feels like a new game.
In a time when there is so much division and hate, it’s time we step back and enjoy life. Live, Laugh, Love; that is exactly what Monopoly Gamer does. It’s a filler for a large game night, a game to play with your grandkids, nephews or even your own children.
Monopoly Gamer will dissolve the wall of irrational hatred built up over decades by some players, and it will do so by fighting Koopas, Bowser Jr., throwing shells and stealing coins from your family and friends.