CityVille Monopoly puts a happy face on a ruthless board game

(Originally posted on Examiner.com)

CityVille Monopoly is a colorful, modernized update to the classic Monopoly board game first published in the 1930’s by Parker Brothers. But despite CityVille’s PC gameinspirations and a few minor tweaks, it’s ultimately the same game and it’s still all about being a ruthless, greedy bastard.

Cityville Monopoly is a game for 2-4 players ages 8 and up. It also comes with a redeemable code for 85 City Cash in Zynga‘s Cityville online game.

Gifts and decorations
Gone are the drab colors and equally drab street names of the original Monopoly game. Now, instead of marching around the board from hotel to hotel like homeless vagabonds, you’re strolling through a colorful city filled with cafes, shops, and community centers. The street names of classic Monopoly, like Ventnor Avenue or Marvin Gardens, have all been replaced with names like “Ice Cream Shop” or “Bakery”.

Cityville Monopoly gives classic Monopoly a face lift and a few minor twists - but it's still all about being a greedy landowner.
Cityville Monopoly gives classic Monopoly a face lift and a few minor twists – but it’s still all about being a greedy landowner.
Photo credit:
Bryan Edge-Salois

Similarly, the pieces in Cityville Monopoly have been narrowed to appropriately city-themed ones: a boat, a bus, a ship (not a battleship), and a pigeon. Missing in action are the thimble, shoe, spinning wheel, dog, and probably others I can no longer remember.

One key change is the replacement of some of the playing cards with “Mystery Gift” cards. Land on a Mystery Gift space and you get two cards: one to give to another player, and one for yourself. Gifts are decorations that you add to one of your properties, which in turn increase the rent a player must pay you when they land it. For example, add a ‘flower garden’ or some such to a property you own, and you can charge an additional $6 in rent (or however much the card says) to players that land on your space. (It’s prettier, so pay up!) You can add as many decorations to a property as you like.

Pretty+Ruthless=Pretty Ruthless
Although CityVille Monopoly sports more colorful trappings and a hint of cooperative play with its mystery gifts, underneath it all it’s the game is still the same. You roll dice, move pieces around the board, and slowly acquire properties so you can develop them. Your goal is to acquire enough money to be the first player to build 4 skyscrapers in the game.

It’s a little different from the original game, but the road taken to achieve it isn’t necessarily any less ruthless.

To review, the goal of classic monopoly was to 1) acquire property; 2) collect complete property sets of the same color; 3) build houses or (ideally) hotels on your properties; 4) bankrupt competitors unfortunate enough to land on your property. You could optionally finish with a victory dance, throw all your money into the air, and a shout “suck it, LOSERS!”, “Hail to the king, baby!” etc.

The goal of building 4 skyscrapers may sound friendly and, at face value, vaguely less competitive (perhaps it strikes a chord with the anti-corporate crowd). But in order to reach that goal you still need to follow the same process: buy property, develop it, and extort money from the unfortunate slobs landing on it.

But hey, they won’t think badly of you. You probably gave them a gift at some point, right?

The instruction manual is very short and will have you up and playing in no time. One thing I would have appreciated (even in the original game) is the ability to lock the building pieces into place on the board. One wayward toss of the dice (which is hardly uncommon with younger players) can easily wreck half your city. And while I appreciate the greatly streamlined rules manual, the game itself can still take a long time to play—some variant rules or setup options to facilitate faster games would have been a good addition.

Overall
CityVille Monopoly is a great, streamlined, face lift to an old-school board game—but while it may be prettier, it’s still built upon the same ruthless economics that defined its ancestor. Gift me property decorations all you want, but if you land on my Platinum Towers (CityVille’s “Boardwalk” equivalent) I will take you for everything your worth. It’s not personal—it’s just business.

CityVille Monopoly is available starting October 2012 at most major toy retailers nationwide and at HasbroToyShop.com for a retail price of $24.99

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