Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978



Fall 2015 Games
Ages: 8 & Up
Manufacturer: Hasbro, Inc.
Price: $19.99

Are you ready for McMonopoly? It's harder to say than to play. Hasbro's latest Here-and-Now series twists the tried-but-true original Monopoly game almost beyond recognition into what is definitely not your grandfather's Monopoly.

Forget about classic high-finance bartering and rents, real estate buy ups, hours-long competition featuring properties from Marvin Gardens to Broadway, Park Place to Atlantic Avenue, with Get-Out-of-Jail and Community Chest cards. Traditional Monopoly tokens such as the thimble, top hat, and dog have been melted down into only four: the Statue of Liberty, a trolley car, a baseball glove, and a cowboy hat. Oh, and no houses or hotels. No upgrading properties.

Nothing much here looks quite right except for the Free Parking, Go, and Go To Jail corners, and the Chance cards. Instead, this version is built for fast instead of built to last. Monopoly Here and Now: U.S. Edition presents 22 U.S. cities, from Los Angeles and Boston to Atlanta and Seattle, instead of pricey avenues. All of the cities were chosen after Hasbro held a nationwide vote for favorite cities.

While some Monopoly money is still passed out, it's pocket change compared to the classic game. Most of the currency has been replaced with different sized (and valued) plastic, button-sized "location stamps" and "first class stamps" collected as you dice-toss your way around the board landing on and buying un-owned cities. Like in classic Monopoly, if you land on an owned space, you have to pay the visiting fee. The Chance cards and Here and Now cards now mostly force players to trade or give away passport pieces.

So, the first player to fill his or her plastic passport token holder wins, not the one with the most dollars in the end. These games typically take about 30 minutes, which is the seismic shift from the classic Monopoly to this version.

Traditionalists will resist the passport token concept replacing the high-finance money-collecting approach, but a new generation of Monopoly players may find this to be a kinder and gentler lesson in economics, though it pales in comparison to the steeped competition strategy level of classic Monopoly.

Educational? Four pages at the back of the rulebook briefly describe the top 50 cities from the national vote. This quickie Monopoly game seems designed for an audience that's either very young or lacking attention span. Or, perhaps, it's the perfect Monopoly for a busy life.

Don Oldenburg   ©2015 Parents' Choice
A former feature writer and consumer columnist at The Washington Post for 22 years, Don Oldenburg is the Director of Publications and Editor of the National Italian American Foundation, in Washington, D.C. He regularly reviews books for USA Today and is the coauthor of "The Washington DC-Baltimore Dog Lovers Companion" (Avalon Travel). The proud father of three sons, he lives with his journalist-author wife, Ann Oldenburg, in McLean, VA.

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