Monopoly zAPPed Edition Game Review

The Basics:

  • For ages 5 and up (publisher suggests 8+)
  • For 2 to 4 players
  • Variable game length

Geek Skills:

  • Active Listening & Communication
  • Counting & Math
  • Logical & Critical Decision Making
  • Pattern/Color Matching
  • Strategy & Tactics
  • Risk vs. Reward
  • Hand/Resource Management
  • Auctioning, Bidding, & Trading
  • Area Control

Learning Curve:

  • Child – Easy
  • Adult – Easy

Theme & Narrative:

  • Buy, sell, and trade property to obtain financial prosperity at the cost of bankrupting friends and family

Endorsements:

  • Gamer Geek rejected!
  • Parent Geek rejected!
  • Child Geek approved!

Overview

The classic game of Monopoly jumps into the 1st century of the 3rd millennium by merging modern technology via the Apple iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad with the tried-and-true board game and bits. By doing so, the game takes itself into a new direction by providing mini games and electronic fund transfers, giving the players a new game experience without upsetting the game balance. But not necessarily for the better…

Monopoly zAPPed Edition, by Hasbro, is comprised of 1 game board, 6 Player tokens, 28 Property cards, 32 Houses (green), 12 Hotels (red), 2 six-sided dice, and 4 Touch-Banking cards (used like debit cards). Not included in the game, but necessary to play, is an Apple iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad. Additionally, a free application used for the game must be installed via the iTunes store.

Example of a game in progress

Game Set Up

Note: It is assumed that you already have the application installed and know the basics of Apple iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad navigation, as well as how to interact and use applications on the device of choice.

To set up the game, first unfold and layout the board in the middle of the playing area. Place the Apple device with the installed application in the middle of the board. An area is marked off on the board making it easy to know where to set it. At this time, you should make sure the game is not interrupted by any application notifications or incoming calls. We suggest simply putting your device on “Airplane Mode”, which will temporarily disable the WiFi signal.

Second, place the Property cards, Houses, and Hotels to one side of the game board and within easy reach of all the players.

Third, have each player select their Player token and take a Touch-Banking card. Each player should place their Player token on the “Go” starting space on the board and the Touch-Banking card is kept in front of them at this time.

Fourth, start the application, select the option to start a new game, and follow the instructions. The players will add their names, identify the Player token they selected previously, and pre-load their Touch-Banking card with funds.

You are now ready to play!

Playing the Game

The game is played using the application and on the game board. The application will facilitate fund transactions, turn order, property buying and auctioning, and mini games. Everything else is done on the game board. This includes rolling the dice for movement, moving the Player token, placing Houses and Hotels, and collecting and trading Property cards.

Example of the main screen while playing the game (iPad version)

Property

The Property, Houses & Hotels, and Auction options allows the players to buy, mortgage, unmortgage, and auction property, houses, and hotels. All transactions are done via the Apple device and money is either credited to or removed from the player’s account, depending on the transaction. The auctioning action is of particular interest here as the application acts like an auctioneer and slowly increases the price of a property. The player’s must “buzz in” to get the price and then go from there. This adds a neat element of suspense as all the players get to participate.

Passing Go

Like the traditional game, any player who passes the Go space collects money. This is done via a money transfer to the player’s account by selecting the Go action and placing the Touch-Banking card to the Apple device.

Paying Rent

Inevitably, a player will land on a property space on the game board that another player owns. When they do so, they must pay that player rent for the privilege of landing and staying on the location. This is done by taking the Pay Rent or Pay Player action and the player placing their Touch-Banking card on the Apple device, entering in the amount owed, and the player who will be receiving the cash taping their Touch-Banking card to collect it. Funds are transferred accordingly.

Chance and Community Chest

These two traditional spaces on the game board randomly provide the player who lands on them a boon or a penalty. The Chance and Community Chest actions on the application replaces the cards of the same name that are noticeably missing from the game component  list. Instead of just reading a card and taking the action described, each player is presented a mini game they must participate in. If they succeed, they’ll win money, or is some cases, lose less money then they would otherwise. Not all mini games are played just by the person who initiated them. Some mini games require all the players to participate.

Jail

If a player is sent to the Jail space, their Player token is immediately relocated to Jail and the player’s turn ends. On their next turn, they will play a mini game to attempt to get out of jail. They get three tries to escape Jail for free. If they fail to do so, they will be required to pay to get out of the Jail space and continue playing. The mini game to get out of jail is very reminiscent of the popular game, Angry Birds, wherein the player catapults a bird to hit a target. Except, in this mini game, the players are catapulting the Mr. Monopoly character out of jail via a bed of mattresses. The goal is to land Mr. Monopoly in his car.

Luxury and Income Tax

These two spaces reduce the player’s total income with an automatic transaction initiated by the player.

Ending the Game

There are two ways to end he game. The first is to simply end it without a winner. This is done by selecting the End Game option from the application. This will completely erase your game. Optionally, players can always “pause” their game and the application will keep track of their progress.

The second way the game ends is when another player officially goes bankrupt. This happens when the player can no longer mortgage their properties and have access to no other funds to pay debts. The game then requests that each player identify what  properties they own and indicate how many houses or hotels they have on each. Once completed, the application determines the winner and gives a ranking based on total asset worth. In other words, the player with the most money wins the game and is treated to a bit of fanfare via the application that announces them as the overall winner.

To learn more about Monopoly zAPPed Edition, see the game’s official web site.

Prediction

Monopoly is just now started to get played in my house thanks to my little geeks need to learn the value of money and their ability to complete more difficult math equations (i.e. adding and subtracting larger numbers). It is also one of those games (and I know I’m about to lose a lot of geek cred for this) that all gamers should play. It is a classic and is the inspiration for hundreds of games that came after it. It is also, sadly, super saturated in the market and has more themes painted on it then I care to count.

When I was offered a chance to play the newest Monopoly zAPPed that used the Apple iPod Touch, iPhone, or iPad, I had some serious reservations. Not because I thought the game would be terribly painful or poor, but because the entire reason one should play Monopoly is to experience it in its original form and to learn the important geek skills by doing so. The introduction and addition of the Apple devices to the game play immediately had me assuming that the game was going to be dumbed down and the beneficial math, money and property management skills were going to be taken from the players and slapped in the application. If so, that type of game held little interest for me.

And so, I went forward to my test groups with a troubled heart. I already knew the game had a mountain to climb (as we’ve been playing a lot of Monopoly as of late) and didn’t particularly look forward to the amount of grief I was going to get, both before and most certainly after the game was played. But such is the life of a reviewer, I suppose. Trials and tribulations and all that.

Teaching the game didn’t take long for my group because everyone was very familiar (some would say painfully so) with Monopoly. I did spend time introducing the different elements handled by the application, however, and there was much skepticism from the very start. I fought through it and got everyone around the table to play the game. Of all the players, my little geeks were the most excited, but more about the use of the iPad versus the game itself. I asked them, the most excited and the least vexed about playing Monopoly, their thoughts on the game so far.

“Neat! It’s Monopoly with the iPad! What’s not cool about that?” ~ Liam (age 8)

“I like it, too, Daddy. I think I’m going to like the mini games the best.” ~ Nyhus (age 5)

“I have some serious doubts.” ~ Wife

Let’s get to the game and see how it goes. I, for one, am very curious to see how these game sessions will end.

Final Word

The Child Geeks greatly enjoyed the game and had no problem using the application, but there was much confusion at first on the timing. The application does not hold your hand as I had feared, but nor does it offer a helping hand, either. The Child Geeks were left guessing at times what should happen next when they rolled the dice and moved their game piece on the board. This level of confusion didn’t last long, however, and by their 2nd game they were moving at a very brisk pace. Also, as expected, their favorite part of the game was the mini games. This is also where the Child Geeks outdid the Parent and Gamer Geeks, showing their natural talents and ability to adapt to a video game like challenge. I was overjoyed when I saw the Child Geeks teaching the Parent and Gamer Geeks how to play the mini games. I should also note that my 5-year-old could play the game, but with help. He did everything by himself, for the most part (not difficult to punch numbers into a calculator – which is what the application does to add or subtract funds), but he was hurting when it came to understanding the value of money and how to auction. However, we consider these skills that need to be learned and not an insurmountable hurdle based on his age. By the time he had his third game, he was showing much progress and improvement. As such, we can recommend this game for little geeks as young as 5-year-old, just be certain you understand the learning curve is based on the child’s grasp of money and the value of saving and spending. Really, excellent lessons to learn early, anyway, so get on it.

Parent Geeks were not that impressed with the game and found the application clunky. They also believed it slowed the game down a great deal and much of it was unnecessary. They also didn’t care for the fact you had to purchase a $400 piece of hardware for a game that already costs over $20. From their perspective, the amount of money you had to spend to play the game and what you got out of it was terribly unbalanced. “Not worth my time or money”, was the most common feedback we received. They were happy their little geeks enjoyed it, but did not like the prospect of putting their expensive Apple device in the middle of a game where there were a bunch of little geeks surrounding it with apple juice.

Gamer Geeks laughed. Yes, laughed, and not in a nice or jovial way when they were introduced to this game. They just asked for a summary of the application and then firmly stated, “never going to play it.” In their opinion, if they were even going to consider playing Monopoly, it would be with just the board game and nothing else. The game was already clunky enough, in their opinion, and didn’t require a level of software placed on top of it to make it a better experience or more alluring.

As my wife gets the game set up, my youngest little geek looks on – I’m sure she wished she could switch with my 2-year-old

Gamer Geeks, there is almost nothing for you here. This is the game of Monopoly with some software. But it is neither a video game or a board game, but a hybrid of the two where both are dependent on each other. Alone, both are incomplete, and together, the experience it provides feels trite. We couldn’t find anything of interest that would persuade the Gamer Geeks to consider this a game worth their time or table space. Skip it.

Parent Geeks, there are only two beneficial aspects of this game that would make it worth looking at, but did not lead the game to be approved by your peer group. The first is the benefit of the application doing all the math for the players which allowed for younger little geeks to play the game. This is done by using the application like a calculator and all the addition and subtraction is done for them. One could argue that this teaches nothing (and I wouldn’t disagree), but it also makes the more complicated geek skills necessary to play the game something that is no longer a concern or a barrier. The second is the lack of bits the players need to worry about. The application handles all the money, which frees up the table space of the money clutter. A number of Parent Geeks liked this a great deal. Ultimately, the game failed to impress, even with the few beneficial improvements it provided.

Child Geeks, congratulations. Your peer group were the only ones who could see any benefit to this game. You’ll enjoy a number of things about the new Monopoly zAPPed and have no idea why the Parent and Gamer Geeks are being so ho-hum about it. The mini games are going to be the source of most of your excitement as they challenge you to be quick and think things through. If you’ve played any games on the iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch, you’ll have no issue learning these mini games and excelling. The other aspect you’ll enjoy is how the application will handle all your money for you. understand that it won’t stop you from spending it poorly, however.

The game has some issues that the player’s will have to work through. For me, this made me want to remove the application from the game play process and I yearned for the simplicity that the traditional Monopoly game provided. First of all, the instructions in the application do not match the written instructions provided in the game. We played with both and provided a summary of the written rules in our review because we thought those were much better and made more sense. Second, the mini games can be a little less than perfect in regards to responsiveness and be exceedingly frustrating. They are also, by and large, completely unnecessary and get old quickly. The little geeks loved them, however, and that kept the Parent Geeks happy, if not altogether amused. Third, the banking transfer via the cards was not very responsive, either. Our play groups spent a lot of time trying to get their cards read and that was simply absurd.

Oscar Wilde, an Irish Poet, Novelist, Dramatist, and Critic, once said, “We live in an age when unnecessary things are our only necessities.” Oh, how right he was. I found Monopoly zAPPed to be the epitome of unnecessary. The application brings nothing of real interest for me to the table and made the time I played the game feel somewhat ill-used. I didn’t find myself enjoying it and a quick look around the table told me others felt the same. Again, the one exception were the Child Geeks who were laughing and have a good time from start to finish.

I personally would never recommend this game to another player, but if you are looking for a different way to play with your iPad and board games, then Monopoly zAPPed might be right for you.

This game was given to Father Geek as a review copy. Father Geek was not paid, bribed, wined, dined, or threatened in vain hopes of influencing this review. Such is the statuesque and legendary integrity of Father Geek.

About Cyrus

Editor in Chief, Owner/Operator, Board Game Fanatic, Father of Three, and Nice Guy, Cyrus has always enjoyed board, card, miniature, role playing, and video games, but didn't get back into the hobby seriously until early 2000. Once he did, however, he was hooked. He now plays board games with anyone and everyone he can, but enjoys playing with his children and wife the most. Video games continue to be of real interest, but not as much as dice and little miniatures. As he carefully navigates the ins and outs of parenting, he does his very best to bestow what wisdom he has and help nurture his children's young minds. It is his hope and ambition to raise three strong, honorable men who will one day go on to do great things and buy their Mom and Dad a lobster dinner Cyrus goes by the handle fathergeek on Board Game Geek. You can also check him out on CyrusKirby.com. Yes, he has a URL that is his name. His ego knows no bounds, apparently....
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5 Responses to Monopoly zAPPed Edition Game Review

  1. Blair says:

    This app for this product is a peace of #$$%. Simply put it doesn’t work. The App asks you to put your card to the screen and tap it on the screen. The Iphone then says scanning, but it doesn’t work. It took half an hour of taping the screen with the card just to get one to finally work. I tried the second card for half an hour and it still doesn’t work. I am tired of companies trying to sell crap that they know don’t work.

    • Cyrus says:

      Agreed! Agreed! Agreed!

      Monopoly zAPPed was a poor offering. Clunky from the start and a negative determinant to the game’s overall game play.

      As I said in my closing thoughts on the game, “I personally would never recommend this game to another player…”

  2. Kali says:

    I’m intrigued by how the cards work with the ipad by touching them together. Can you explain how that’s done or how the app recognizes the card?

    • Cyrus says:

      I have no idea how it works. Dark and foreboding magic, probably.

      Regardless of “how” it works, it is very important to point out that it “seldom” works, which is a big problem and ruins game play. Whatever sensors are being used (or dark magical catnips being cast) the app tends to not work half of the time and only get worse the more the iPad is used. I found that a good cleaning of the iPad screen usually addresses this, but it doesn’t take long for the screen to become covered in oils from fingers again and the reader to stop…well…reading.

      The game is an interesting concept, but the app fails to satisfy. The end result is a game that cannot be played at times and highly frustrates all who try.

  3. Darleen says:

    Me and my company played this game using an Ipad and loved it! There is a particular way to get the card scanned but once figured out, it rarely went wrong. The cards are scanned using the electricity in your fingers to connect to circuits built into the cards. It made the game faster by far than the conventional game but retained the charm of the old game. Two of the players were new to touch screens but picked it up quickly enough to beat the other two in mini games by the end. Totally recommended by this old-time video gamer.

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