One of the greatest concepts that was introduced for the PSP was the Minis range. Bite sized games that offered budget-priced titles, that used less memory card space than regular titles. While many titles weren’t as large as their retail counterparts, they still offered great value for money. The range offered everything from RPGs to arcade shooters, puzzle games and even major licensed titles. One such game was released by none other than gaming giant EA when they released a home version of the Hasbro classic board game Monopoly.
From Board To Screen
It’s not unusual for board games to make the transition to home computers and consoles. Monopoly first made it to home computers back in the 1980s courtesy of publisher Leisure Genius. The PSP previously saw a release featuring an assortment of traditional games from Xplosiv in their compilation Ultimate Board Game Collection. The PSP has also seen games based on Uno and even the old stalwart Scrabble (again from EA) although this too was withdrawn from sale. It’s seemed as if every board game imaginable has been fair game to developers, no matter how obscure.
Even if they haven’t made a significant appearance on the PSP, games have still materialised in one way or another to please even the most reluctant of gamers. Despite its reliance on real world interaction between players, Top Trumps have continued to be a favourite. And even variations of seaside classics have been brought into our homes when you look online for Bingo bonuses with no deposit. It really does seem as if we can play any board game we like without the fear of pieces going missing or running into countless family arguments!
Recreating The Monopoly Experience
Back to Monopoly on the PSP, and EA have done a remarkable job in creating the game. While they could have taken the safe option and just displayed a dull, lifeless board instead the game has been brought to life in a fully realised 3D environment. The dice are animated as they are rolled, the board follows the pieces as they move and animated sequences ensue if you land on special squares or events are triggered during the game.
Up to four people can play with the remaining players being controlled by the CPU. You choose your playing piece from all of the traditional Monopoly pieces on offer and get straight into the game proper. You can adjust some of the key rules for the game depending on your playing style and select which board you use. To start the game only one is available but more are unlocked as you play. Each time you win a game, a new board is made available that has a new aesthetic complete with new location names.
Playing The Game
Everything in this version of Monopoly is controlled using the d-pad and just a couple of buttons. There are clear on-screen instructions at all time so you will always know what buttons need to be pressed at any given time. While hardened gamers won’t need this level of hand-holding, it does mean that it makes Monopoly incredibly accessible to novice and veteran gamers alike. Players are eliminated from the game once their money runs out completely and they have no assets left to mortgage off or to sell back to the bank or to other players.
There’s no option for a set time limit for games so play continues until there is just one player left. Each games can last for several hours but fortunately there’s a much-needed save option. As well as your current game progress, this saves details of any boards you have unlocked during play.
A Challenging Opponent
It has to be said that the CPU actually plays a mean and challenging game of Monopoly. The last thing I want in any digital board game is to be able to win easily. Yes, it’s satisfying to win but when you feel that you have earned that win then that satisfaction feels even more deserved. It also feels that each new board brings a new level of difficulty to the AI. This ensures that the game remains a challenge even when you master the earlier boards.
It’s small touches like that, plus the diverse graphics, sound and nuances in the design for each board, that keep bringing you back to the game long after you’ve won your first couple of games.
Unfortunately, as with most EA titles, this isn’t compatible with the PS Vita. As it was released as part of the Minis range it does have the advantage of running on both the PSP and PS3 but that’s as far as it goes when it comes to running on more than one console. For those of you quick to dismiss this as being no great loss, nothing could be further from the truth. This is one of the PSPs true hidden gems and deserved to fare better than its distribution allowed.
That doesn’t stop this port of Monopoly from being a great game. EA has managed to retain all of the rules and fun of the original while adding enough new elements to make it appeal to gamers. This is a fun version of the original one one I still return to play on the PSP on a regular basis. It’s just heartbreaking that this is one that was never made compatible with the PS Vita and also another game lost to the ravages of time when it was removed from the PlayStation Store.
At A Glance
- Title: Monopoly
- Publisher: EA
- System: PSP / PS3 Minis
- Format: PSN Download
- Cross Buy: N / A
- Cross Play: N / A
- Online Multiplayer: No
- Local Multiplayer: Yes (2-4 players)
- PlayStation TV Compatible: No