I love a good board game. Whether I’m building railway lines in Ticket to Ride, winning the lottery in Payday, or simply attempting to spell words in Boggle, sometimes it’s a nice change of pace to sit down with a group of friends roll some dice, deal cards and strategise. Of course, these types of experiences are no stranger to receiving the video game treatment – whether we’re talking PC, console or handheld. And, when you think about it, the Nintendo Switch feels like a perfect fit for board games thanks in part to both its portability and the fact you will always have two Joy-Con wherever you go.
What is there to say about the game of Monopoly for Nintendo Switch that hasn’t already been permanently chiselled into our brains? The whole experience has been successfully translated over to the Switch. You’re rolling dice with the Joy-Con – which, as silly as it sounds, feels satisfying with a quick shake – buying properties, and generally doing your best to force your opponents into bankruptcy. It’s Monopoly just on your television or on the go, and a little more expensive.
As you might expect playing Monopoly for Nintendo Switch against computer opponents just isn’t fun. Not only are they slower to respond on their turns and lack unpredictability in their actions, but we play board games to be social and whether you’re at home on the big screen or sat on a train in Handheld mode, you will want others to join in.
So, it’s a nice surprise that this Switch version can be played with up to six people both on and offline whether you all use your own controllers or by passing around just the one. Of course, the more bodies you throw into the mix the longer the game will last, sometimes painfully long with all the animations that play out and good luck finding a room of people happy to invest three or more hours. Thankfully the game offers a save function so you’re free to return whenever you like.
Outside the bread and butter Monopoly mode, House Rules throws extra modifiers into the mix such as double ones awarding the player with cash and passing GO giving you nothing. Speed Dice meanwhile adds a third dice to your roll capable of giving you options in the number of spaces you move or even taking you to the next available property.
If you only have time for a quicker round of Monopoly for Nintendo Switch, the game does offer a small handful of objective-based modes where instead of just focusing on keeping in the green, your goal will be more specific – things like obtaining a certain amount of cash, owning blocks of properties, or simply earning enough in rent. Action cards also add a little chaos whether it be getting an extra roll or taking money from the richest player. It’s here where the game strays furthest from its roots, offering a little more flexibility in how you play.
The game offers three Living Boards that each takes place in a unique environment – city, haunted, and theme park. Unlike the regular boards, here you’re moving around a fully 3D world with spaces changed to match the theme – for example renting Ferris wheels and roller coasters instead of the usual Park Lane or Water Works. With gameplay remaining exactly the same, think of them as different visual flavours.
While the Living Boards bring a little more life to the proceedings you can’t help but feel like Ubisoft could have gone further. And I’m not necessarily talking using other company’s brands like Super Mario or Game of Thrones, but even just their own. Playing in a Rayman-inspired world or one of the settings from the Far Cry or Assassin’s Creed series would have injected a little more variety into the game and even though there is a static Rabbids-themed board, it doesn’t feel as fleshed out as the Living Boards.
Unfortunately, when playing the more busy boards, the framerate never feels as smooth as it should whether in Handheld or TV mode. When you look at other more demanding titles out there on Switch like the beautiful Super Mario Odyssey or face-meltingly speedy FAST RMX (games that nail their sixty frames a second promise), it feels especially disappointing that a board game adaption like Monopoly for Nintendo Switch can’t even manage this.
Even worse still are the load times that plague the game sometimes taking upwards of five minutes. I know there have been “solutions” mentioned online of switching off your console after first installing the game, but this appears to be a temperamental fix. Sometimes loads are fine, however, I’ll be sat waiting insanely long just for the game to start even post-reboot. Ubisoft has promised a fix in the future, but at the moment it’s surprising something like this is even an issue.
With all the extra modes and player choices during their turns, I would often find it tough to navigate the menus and even decipher how to complete certain acts. When trading properties, for example, the system itself feels so clunky – every time I would play with a new group of people, questions would repeat again and again. We understand Monopoly, that’s a given, but Ubisoft and developer Engine Software could have done a better job explaining how you go about using its interface.
Monopoly for Nintendo Switch delivers a solid enough version of the famous board game that’s unfortunately held back by some frustrating issues. With a little polish, better pacing, and a more competitive price point, this version could have been a great alternative for fans of the game. As it stands though Monopoly for Nintendo Switch is perfectly playable but feels like a bit of a missed opportunity.
Version Tested: Nintendo Switch
Review copy provided by Ubisoft