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Critical Thinking Software Reviews

Monopoly
from Hasbro Interactive

For Ages 7 to adult

See also the Summary Rating Table for comparisons with other Critical Thinking software titles, and the SuperKids Buyers Guide for current market prices of PC and Mac versions.


Reviewed on:
Children's Software Screen Shot Pentium90 with 24MB and 2XCD

Description
The original Monopoly game was created in 1934, and continues today as one the most successful 'parlor' games on the market. It stands to reason that a CD version of the game will be equally as popular, appealing to a new generation of board game enthusiasts. Unfortunately, something is lost in the translation of the game, and the result is less than brilliant.

Game-play is basically the same as that of the conventional version of Monopoly. In fact, game-rules, which exist solely in a printable file contained on the CD, have not been revised to reflect computer-play. The program does include an option for customizing the rules, with the most interesting (and telling) possible adaptation being "cheating is allowed".

The object of Monopoly is to become the wealthiest player through buying, renting and selling property. The computer fulfills the duties of banker, dice roller, and token manipulator. Up to four players can compete at once, or the user can choose to challenge the computer (Al).

Initially the program appears almost frenetic. Game pieces dance and spin as they move about the board, alternating between a direct view, and overhead view. Saucy elevator-type music repeats itself ad nauseam. Rich Uncle Pennybags keeps popping-up to extract money from players, and every time a player lands on a space containing property of any sort, an exhaustive video of the property must be endured before action can be taken. Fortunately, most of these options are suppressible, allowing the user to enjoy the game on its own merits.

Ease of Install / Use
Internet and remote player games, while attractive in theory, proved difficult for our reviewers to set up.

Educational Value
In addition to the inherent value gained from time spent enjoying computers and practicing mouse and toolbar manipulation, the program includes all of the many educational lessons learned in the original version of Monopoly. Children strengthen basic math skills as they build and develop their monetary funds. Strategic thinking and problem solving skills come into play as users analyze situations and decide how to proceed. Wheelin' and dealin' abounds, benefitting the mini 'robber barons' in the making.

Kid Appeal
SuperKids' reviewers of all ages were uninspired by this program and unanimously expressed their preference of the standard board version of the game. Once dice are rolled pieces move too quickly, making the game somewhat hard to follow and leaving no opportunity for rethinking and replaying moves. Players are not given adequate time to read Computer Al's Chance and Community Chest cards, leaving kids with the suspicion that the computer cheats even when that option is not engaged. Property cards can't be easily read and referenced, and auctions and trades seem rushed and out of the player's control, contributing to an overall feeling of frustration with the game.

Best for... / Bottom-Line
Monopoly fans, and board-game players in general, may find that there is something severely lacking in this computer-version of their favorite. There are no actual dice to blow on for luck, no money piles to proclaim success, and the cute little metal playing-pieces and plastic houses and apartments that we all know and love exist on-screen only. Those who can live with these obvious deficiencies will find the game very similar to its predecessor, with the potential added benefits of solitary and remote player options.

Educational Value= 3/5, Kid Appeal = 3/5, Ease of Use = 3/5

See also the Summary Rating Table for comparisons with other Critical Thinking software titles, and the SuperKids Buyers Guide for current market prices of the PC and Mac versions.



Children's Software System Requirements


PC

Macintosh
Operating System Windows 3.1; Win95 information not available
CPU Type and Speed 486/33
Hard Drive Space 10 MB minimum
Memory (RAM) 8 MB minimum
Graphics 640 x 480 x 256 minimum
CD-ROM Speed 2X (4X recommended)
Audio Sound Blaster or compatible sound card
Other Needs optional: modem and Internet access

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