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e-Briefing | Gadgets & Gizmos

E-Monopoly Is a Bust

February 15, 2001

Parker Bros. has concocted an electronic, hand-held version of its classic Monopoly board game. This slightly bulky, albeit portable, $30 gizmo is programmed so you can play against five opponents--each with varying skills--who, along with a game host, speak 200 words.

The game rules and board pattern are the same as the original Monopoly. A dice-roll button triggers each move. The game piece hops along. Then the host asks in an annoying, parrot-like croak, "Do you want to buy this property?"

The sound effects are grating, but you can reduce or mute the sound. Each transaction is executed by pushing buy, sell or other buttons. Two problems: The screen is a microscopic 2 1/4 inches square, so trying to track each game piece, who owns each property and how many hotels have been erected is like watching an ant farm.

It's also hard to know when your opponents will automatically step in and take their turns. A teenage girl got quasi-addicted to the game for a couple of days. But an 11-year-old boy weaned on Sony PlayStation and Nintendo 64 found the game an instant bore. So we pulled out the old Monopoly board game and played it with fresh appreciation.

Stick with the original.

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