Let’s talk about Monopoly, the classic property building board game. Also known as “that one game that goes on forever because dummies add house rules that make a two hour game go on longer than it should.” No, you don’t get money on Free Parking, you must auction a property if you don’t buy it, and you get $200 if you land on GO, not $400. At least it’s a better board game than Risk, now that one’s a pain to play.
Over the years, I have somehow amassed a large Monopoly collection, from Disney-themed Monopoly to Monopoly featuring the Seattle Mariners baseball team, to even one of those bootleg “Build Your Own” Monopoly clones made for Windows 3.1. Though, much like everything in life, I took it to excess and got sick of collecting them, shoving all the various Monopoly games I got in my garage, some of which have never been opened. However, buried between Deluxe Edition Monopoly and Michael Graves Monopoly, there was this special edition:
Yeah, they made a Pokemon Monopoly game. Gotta catch em all, I guess. This edition was made back in 1999. Pokemon fever was in full swing, and naturally there was gonna be a crossover with the famous board game. Interestingly, this was before Hasbro licensed Monopoly to USAopoly to do their cross-brand spinoffs like The Beatles Monopoly and Rolling Stones Trivial Pursuit. I don’t remember how I got this, but I think I might’ve “borrowed” this from my grandma and never gave it back, I can’t be certain. Regardless, it’s in my Monopoly collection, and I’m now gonna go look into this version.
I’m going to assume you all know the rules of Monopoly, so instead I’ll just cover the noticeable differences between this and the original you know and hate love.
Instead of properties, you buy Pokemon with cash. The values are identical as in the original game as of 1999, so any changes they’ve made to the game since won’t be reflected here.
Like before, you rolling dice to move your token around or get money, and you buy “Poke Centers” and “Poke Marts” rather than Houses and Hotels. You pass GO, collect $200, and avoid Going to Jail. Professor Oak or Ash and Pikachu replace the Chance and Community Chest spaces, with Gary and Team Rocket replacing the Income/Luxury Tax spaces from the original.
Weirdly, Pokemon Monopoly doesn’t even try to make Free Parking or Jail tie-in to the Pokemon lore, which is rather bizarre and a little lazy on their part.
The tokens in this game resemble notable Pokemon from Generation 1, which like regular pieces are used to travel around the gameboard. You can play as Pikachu, Charmander, Blastoise, Mewtwo, Clefairy, and Bulbasaur. Alas, I’m missing Bulbasaur in this case, which is a shame because if the looks of the others are any indication, they would’ve either looked real cute or rather scary.
Though, using Pokemon to capture Pokemon on the board? Seems a bit weird to me. Guess they didn’t think anyone wanted to play as the “boring” human characters. I would’ve totally played Team Rocket.
As a result, instead of fighting for the top hat or the car, now everybody will fight to see Pikachu, just like in regular Monopoly. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Since this was released in 2000, this only covers the original 151 Pokemon and not anything from Pokemon Gold/Silver/Crystal forward, so anyone hoping to own Lucario, Flygon, or Mudkip will be disappointed.
However, I find their decisions on which Pokemon replace which properties questionable. Such as Nidoqueen and Nidoking being the Park Place and Boardwalk in this game. Which seems like a questionable choice, as anyone who understands a lick of Pokemon would know that Mew and Mewtwo are the most desirable Pokemon, not someone silly like Nidoking. I guess since they made Mewtwo a playable token, they didn’t want to have him capturing himself. Still a missed opportunity.
There’s not much more I can say, this is Monopoly with a Pokemon theme. If you like either, it’s a nice collectable, but like the other versions of Monopoly I own, this edition will go up on the shelf alongside the others I have, like that one from the 1940s that doesn’t have the board, one themed on Arizona state, or the web-savvy “dot Com” edition from 2000.
Monopoly may have been around for nearly a century, but it is a game I’ve always found fascinating to read about, even if I don’t play them that much. After writing this article, I realize that I have way too much Monopoly stuff. I even own some of the Monopoly video games! Perhaps I should talk about some of those someday, like the Monopoly game for Windows by Westwood Studios, the same people who’d go on to make Command & Conquer. That would be a treat, honestly.