Saturday, September 23, 2006

Hooray For The "Here And Now"!

Back in July, I decried Hasbro's decisions to give the 70-year old Monopoly property trading game a makeover by changing all the place names and eventually doing away with paper money.

Well, on a whim, I decided to purchase the Monopoly Here And Now edition. (You can, too, by clicking on the link, and we get a few cents every time you do.) The prospects of more money and enhanced places (and updated graphics) seemed like it was worth checking out, so my girlfriend and I went ahead and started a game, using variants of the standard rules that seem to be used in a lot of places (such as a "Free Parking" jackpot).

This version takes you to a world original Monopoly creator Charles Darrow could never have imagined. We liked the new gameboard with photo depictions of places from Jacobs Field (the new version of Mediterranean Avenue) all the way to Times Square (this version's Boardwalk). Ever wanted to buy Disney World, or the Las Vegas Strip? Now you can. The original, as you recall, just had place names (all streets in Atlantic City, New Jersey), and spartan graphics. The paper money (no credit card system just yet in the U.S. version) has been freshened up, with denominations bumped up by $10,000, but with the same colors we're all used to (the $10,000 bill is white, while the big kahuna, now the $5,000,000 bill, is still that enticing gold color that cries out "Give me five $1,000,000 bills in trade"). Railroads have given way to airports - O'Hare, JFK, LAX, and Hartsfield. The Electric Company and Waterworks have been supplanted by the more moden "Cell Phone Provider" and "Internet Service Provider". There are new game pieces including McDonald's French Fries, a Motorola cell phone, and a New Balance running shoe. (There's still a dog.)

What my girlfriend and I got the biggest kick out of were the new Community Chest and Chance cards. You now go to Jail (do not pass "Go", do not collect $2,000,000) for identity theft or insider trading. The Get Out Of Jail Free card now reads, "You've been acquitted!" Even though the Atlantic City place names are no more, one of the good cards (I don't remember if it was Chance or Community Chest) says, "You've won a big jackpot at the Atlantic City casinos!"

It was a nice update of the game, still holding enough of the traditions of the original (including the classic rules still in place about buying property and going to jail when you roll doubles three times in a row). And, I beat my girlfriend quite nicely when she landed on my three-house Pioneer Square, Seattle - formerly New York Avenue - one time too many.

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