Review: Monopoly Gamer Edition

We’ll be taking a look at Monopoly Gamer Edition (<–Affiliate link) today.  This was a Christmas gift from the ninja and we’ve finally had some time to sit and try it out.  We have the game and 4 additional game tokens.  Let’s jump right in with some Monopoly history.

A Little About Monopoly

Monopoly has long been present in American households.  The first Monopoly game is from 1935 by Parker Brothers, though it is based on a game self-published in 1906 called The Landlord’s Game.  Monopoly is now licensed in more than 100 countries and published in 37 different languages.  That’s impressive, no matter how you feel about the game…that’s impressive.

There are more licensed Monopoly editions than I care to count.  They have sports team-themed, major city-themed, movie and television-themed, video game-themed and all kinds of other editions.  They have everything from Chicago Cubs Monopoly to The Simpsons Monopoly to Boy Scouts of America editions.  The range of available themes throughout the years is wide.  Not all of these are available to purchase at the store today, many of them are only available second-hand at this point as they are no longer being manufactured.

Over the years (and generations), Monopoly is no longer the go-to board game in many households for several reasons, the biggest of which being the time to play.  Hasbro has been trying for many years to keep the game of Monopoly fresh and current.

What Makes Gamer Edition Different?

Where to begin…  Gamer Edition takes Monopoly and twists it into something similar but different at the same time.  The rules have been modified to play more like a competitive video game rather than the classic Monopoly game.  The best thing about Gamer Edition is the time it takes to play the game.  Classic Monopoly can take anywhere from an hour to 3 or 4 hours and by the end of the game, oftentimes you end up hating each other’s guts.  Monopoly Gamer Edition is designed to end relatively quickly.  There are 8 bosses that you must defeat (or let escape).  The boss battles happen when a person passes go.  Do the math on that…if there are 4 players, that could be a pretty short game.

The game feels more rewarding than Classic Monopoly.  Gamer Edition, being as short as it is, makes your accomplishments mean something.  It’s not about crushing your opponents and making them go bankrupt.  It’s about defeating the bosses, collecting properties and hoarding as many coins as you can your grubby little mitts on.

Other changes include (obviously) new Mario-themed characters each with special abilities, no chance/community chest cards, no houses/hotels, Mario themed coins (1’s and 5’s) instead of paper money and having one of the number dice replaced with a power-up die.

Choosing a Character

Choosing your character is no easy task like in Classic Monopoly.  Gamer Edition has added special abilities unique to each character that should be considered when choosing a character.  We did not consider this, we simply chose the character that we liked.  Not knowing their abilities gave us an even playing field, nobody chose and advantageous character over a weak one.  Abilities are not game-breaking by any stretch, but they are a nice addition and create more varied game-play as you have different combinations of characters.  Naturally, certain characters prove stronger than others as they can’t all have equal abilities simply because of the nature of the game…you can only do so much to vary the abilities.  Included in the game are Donkey Kong, Princess Peach, Yoshi and Mario.

Power Packs

Speaking of choosing a character, there are 8 power packs available.  They are not blinds, which is nice.  They come in a bag, similar to the blind toy bags you can get for about every IP ever created, but you can visibly see which character you are getting.  These power packs fit the theme perfectly as they remind me of DLC available for video games.  Each pack comes with a new character token, a character card and a sticker.  The characters available in these packs include:  Luigi, Wario, Diddy Kong, Toad, Rosalina, Fire Mario, Tanooki Mario and Boo.  The prices vary wildly online, but can be purchased at a bricks-and-mortar location for around 3 or 4 dollars at the time of this writing.

Gameplay

As mentioned, this play way faster than Classic Monopoly.  We finished in about a little over an hour with a 3-player game and keep in mind that one of those players is 6.  The game is fast-paced and you must pay attention even when it is not your turn.  Learning to sweet-talk other players into hitting someone else with something bad from the item die is essential to your long-term savings.

The rules are very different and, to be honest, more complicated than any other Monopoly I’ve played.  They were a little complicated for the ninja at first, but with some extra patience we were able to get him through the game without issue.  A child slightly older than him would have no problems understanding what was going on.  Beyond that, the game lasted a little too long to hold his attention.  He has the attention span of dead gnat, so that’s not really knocking the game…I’m just saying.

The boss battles are easy to figure out and reward you with a nice chunk of points as well as a bonus reward for beating him (or her).

What did we think?

Gamer Edition has an opportunity to bring Monopoly back into the lives of a new generation.  How well do we think it did?

Mommy:  This is a fun and refreshing change to the standard Monopoly formula.  The additions were all done very well.  It still felt like a Monopoly game, but it was different enough to make it well worth the money.  The pieces are high-quality plastic instead of metal, but they’re around 4 bucks for an additional character…we can’t expect the nice old metal pieces at this point.  I wish the coins, of which there are far too few of the single coins, were plastic rather than cardboard.  Plastic would last much longer, but overall this game was worth the price of admission.

Ninja:  Two thumbs up.  He said it was shorter he would “give it 10 thumbs up!”  It really was just a tad too long for his attention span.  He seemed to really enjoy stealing coins from us.  And he won the game, so that made him happy.

What We Like-Mario theme
-Power packs that add characters
-Fast-paced
-Easy to learn and play
-Fun gameplay
What We Don't Like-Not enough coins
Replay ValueHigh -- This is partially due to the nature of the characters abilities and the possible combinations
Recommended AgeHasbro: 8+
Mommy and Ninja: 6+
Final GradeB+
Final ThoughtsPerfect for any Mario fan or a board game fan looking for a new take on a old game.

Have you played Monopoly Gamer Edition?  Let us know what you thought in the comments section below.  We’d love to hear your opinions.

***Disclosure:  The opinions stated here are the honest opinions of Mommy and Ninja.  We purchased this product at full retail price and were not compensated for this review in any way nor asked to give a positive review.***

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Turmoil (PC)

Turmoil Start Screen
Turmoil Start Screen

In my days playing tycoon/management type games, I must admit that I’ve never been a rags-to-riches oil tycoon.  I’ve been a lemonade stand tycoon, a roller coaster tycoon, a zoo building tycoon, a drug tycoon and many more than I care to list.  Turmoil is definitely the first time I’ve been an oil tycoon.  This game was purchased as part of a Humble Bundle (More details about the current Humble Bundle can be found here.), Best of 2017 which is available until February 20th, 2018.

Turmoil Information

Mommy and Ninja RatingB
Available PlatformsWindows, macOS, Linux, iPad
Available FormatsDigital
Platform Reviewed onWindows (Steam)
GenreSimulation
DeveloperGamious
PublisherGamious
Release Date(s)June 2, 2016

Parent’s Information

Steam doesn’t require ESRB ratings to sell games, so this section won’t show you the ESRB or the PEGI ratings for the game.  So, I’ll have to rate it myself.

There’s nothing at all inappropriate here.  Unless the fact that there is a saloon in the game (at which no actual drinking occurs) is offensive to you, this is one of the least offensive games I’ve played in a long time.  Would I let the ninja play it?  Sure.  Can he play it?  He’s 6, so management games aren’t really his bag.  You don’t technically have to be able to read, but it would be helpful if playing campaign just so you know what people are saying to you.

There is no sexual content or nudity, no foul language, no drug/alcohol references (other than the presence of the saloon).  It’s pretty non-offensive.

Is it good?

That’s what everybody wants to know, isn’t it?  Well, it’s not bad.  Turmoil isn’t going to win and Game Of The Year awards (or rather didn’t), but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth playing.  There is something to be said for a game in the management/simulation genre that gives you a new experience…even if it is only in the subject matter.  Overall, the game offers the same basic fare as any other genre game.  A couple of buildings, a slew of upgrades…nothing too extraordinary here.  The simplicity is the beauty of this game.  It’s intended as a casual game and what you see is what you get.

Gameplay

It’s a management game.  It’s easy to understand and easy to play.  The buildings are self explanatory (oil rig, oil silo…easy) and the upgrades are easy to figure out just reading the title.  The game has two modes:  Campaign and Sandbox.  Campaign guides you through a competition between you and your 3 AI-controlled rivals.  Competition is a bit of a stretch of the word, but you do bid on land against them.  Mostly, the AI is dense when it comes to bidding.  They will have a bidding war with 16 pieces of land still left unused and drive their prices up for no reason.  It’s an interesting aspect.  During the campaign, you spend your money on upgrades between the levels and then bid on another piece of land.  The levels are not challenging and overall, the campaign is not particularly challenging either.

Turmoil is beautiful in it’s simplicity, but that’s a downfall as well.  The gameplay is too simplistic.  One campaign will be just like the others.  There will be no real risk of losing.

Shady deal offer at the saloon
Shady deal offer at the saloon

Graphics and Music

As mentioned, this is a management game.  Those of us who regularly play these games aren’t in it for top-notch graphics and you won’t get that here.  Nonetheless, Turmoil is visually appealing especially in this genre.  I love the art style here.  That said, the graphics won’t be pushing the limits of your graphics card (unless you’re running something akin to an old Commodore 64).  The user interface is clear, concise and, more importantly, easy to see and read.  It is not cluttered with nonsense.

The music is catchy.  I caught myself more than once dancing with the music as I played.

Replay Value

In a management game, this is important.  Am I going to come back and play it again or am I going to blow my money on a few hours of fun and delete it?  This is one of those games that is too casual.  I won’t delete it, but it won’t be at the top of my list to play again.  Turmoil would be a good game to play while you’re doing something else, like waiting on hold with tech support on the phone or listening to an audio file.  This is a game that I would play while I was “watching” one of the Ninjas shows on Netflix with him.  You know, I watch the show with my back eyes and play with my normal eyes…  Replay value here is medium at best.

Overall Mommy and Ninja RatingB
Overall Gameplay4/5
Story/Plot3/5
Sound, Dialogue/Voice Acting4/5
Graphics4/5
Controls5/5
Pros-Unique
-Procedurally generated Sandbox levels
-Simple
-Easy to understand/play
Cons-Not particularly interesting
-Too Simple
Bottom LineNot a bad game. Pick it up on sale.

Final Thoughts

At it’s regular price (currently $9.99 on Steam), I would not say this is a good purchase except for the biggest fans of the genre.  As part of a Humble Bundle or at a 50% or better discount, this is worth picking up for someone who casually enjoys casual sims.  I’m not disappointed, but I would have been upset if I’d paid full price.  It’s a decent time-waster.

Review - Turmoil (PC)
Review – Turmoil (PC)
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Review: Humble Monthly Subscription

Today, we’re going to take a look at something that the ninja and I just found out about a couple of months ago.  The Humble Monthly Subscription.  We’ve already been taking advantage of our Humble Monthly offerings.  Humble Monthly comes from the company that gives us the Humble Bundle.

What is Humble Monthly?

Have you ever heard of Loot Crate?  Nerd Block?  [Insert the name of ANY subscription box here]?  That’s what Humble Monthly is.  Sort of.  It’s essentially like all of the subscription boxes available, but for PC games.  Each month you are subscribed, you will receive about 8-10 games for a set price.  I say about 8-10 because it does vary from month-to-month.  All of the bundles that have been released so far have an MSRP of over $100.

That number sounds a little better than it truly is, but it’s still an awesome deal.  The numbers they use are the regular price of the game.  Anyone familiar with Steam (or Humble Bundle) will know that they can get some kick-butt deals on a large variety of games.  Still a rocking deal, though.  Plus, some of the proceeds from Humble Monthly goes to charity.  You’re getting a great deal and helping a charity.  Does it get any better?

Humble Monthly February 2018
Humble Monthly February 2018

How much does it cost?

Over $100 dollars in games each month?!?  It must be expensive, right?  Honestly, that’s what I thought when I saw a list of the games from one of the bundles a few months ago.  Upon investigation, the price is actually quite reasonable.  Only $12 per month.  So, for a measly $12 you get 8-10 games?  Yes.  There were 8 games month, so each game cost only $1.50 which is a steal.

There are currently 4 subscription options:  Monthly ($12/mo); 3-Months ($11.67/mo); 6-Months ($11.17/mo) and 12-Months ($11/mo).  With the 12-Month Subscription, you basically get 1 month free.  All subscriptions are recurring, but can be canceled at any time during the subscription period to avoid the recurring charge.  There is also an option to gift a monthly subscription to a friend.  You can choose to pay with a credit card or PayPal.

What do parents need to know?

Parents, are you kids asking you for the Humble Monthly subscription?  Or maybe your kids are gamers and this is something you think they would like.  If they’re PC gamers, they probably would like this.  Do note that not all games are child-appropriate.  There are M-Rated games included in some of the monthly bundles and there is no way to tell what’s in it beforehand.  If this is a problem, you should check out the Humble Bundles offered instead, which are usually really great limited-time deals.

What types of games are included?

All of them.  If it’s a type of game, it’s included.  Seriously.  They’ve had AAA titles; they’ve had indies.  There have been action, simulation, survival, puzzle, sports and strategy games.  Any kind of game you can imagine.  The Long Dark (our PS4 review here) was in January 2018’s monthly bundle; I was upset that I missed that one.  March’s early unlock game is Dark Souls III and the Ashes of Ariandel™ DLC.  Past games have included NBA 2k17, Tomb Raider, Life Is Strange, Civilization VI, Resident Evil 5, Elder Scrolls Online and Quake Champions and that’s just going back 6 or 7 months.

What platforms are available?

The only guarantee is that all games will be available on Steam.  Beyond that, they make no promises.  Some games are also available on macOS and Linux.

What else do I get?

Dang!  8 games for $12 isn’t enough for you?  Well, Humble Bundle has you covered.  Not only do you get the games each month, but you also receive 10% off games in the Humble Store.  Still not enough?  You also get access to The Humble Trove.  The Trove contains Humble Originals and more.  You can download as many of The Trove games as you would like.  They are all DRM-Free games available to download for anyone with an active subscription.  As of 8 February 2018 there are 46 games in The Trove.  Some of the games were in previous bundles, but if you weren’t a subscriber at that point…that’s 40+ more games you just got access to.

What’s the catch?

You have to subscribe before the bundle details are announced.  They tell you what the early unlock game is, but not the remaining games in the bundle.  That’s it.  There’s no other catch.  And what’s better is that when you cancel your subscription, you keep the games.  All of them.  Forever.  Unlike a PlayStation+ or XboxLive Gold subscription, where you lose access to any free games, you keep these even without an active subscription.

Is it worth it?

Your mileage will vary, but $12 is a steal for these bundles.  Dark Souls III, for example is still $59.99 and the aforementioned DLC is $14.99 as of today on Steam.  If you were thinking of getting Dark Souls III, now is the time to buy Humble Monthly!  You can’t beat that deal.  If you weren’t, but might like it…still worth the subscription price.  If Dark Souls III doesn’t interest you in the least, maybe wait until next month…or take the gamble and do it anyways!

Where do I sign up?

Well, there is a limited-time offer that could earn you (and me) an $8 credit to use in the Humble Store if you click this referral link and subscribe.  Simple as that.  If that wasn’t enough to get you to sign up, there is a discount for first-time subscribers, making the cost $10.80 for your first month.  Clicking that link will make your first month essentially cost you $2.80.

Humble Monthly Review
Humble Monthly Review
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Review: Middle-Earth: Shadow of War

We’ll be taking a look at Monolith Productions’ Middle Earth: Shadow of War.  Should you buy this game?  Should you buy this game for a child?  This is a long one.  I’ll have a TL;DR table of information at the bottom in case you need it.  Scroll all the way to the bottom of the post; it’s just before my disclaimer.

***This is a videogame review and while I make my best effort not to include spoilers, sometimes it happens.  If you have not completed Shadow of Mordor, there may be a spoiler contained in this review.  You have been warned.  This post contains affiliate links.***

Shadow of War General Information

Mommy and Ninja RatingYin_yang 50x50Yin_yang 50x50Yin_yang 50x50Yin_yang 50x50Half Yin Yang 25x50
Available PlatformsPS4, XBOX One, PC
Available FormatsDigital
Retail Disc
Platform Reviewed onPS4
GenreAction Role-Playing
DeveloperMonolith Productions
PublisherWarner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Release Date(s)October 10, 2017
RatingsESRB: M
PEGI: 18
USK: 16
ACB: MA 15+

Parent’s Information

If you’re a parent here looking for whether or not your child should play this game, here’s the place to look.  Not taking into account the quality of the actual game, here’s what you need to know:

Here in the US, the ESRB rated this M for Mature for the following reasons:  Blood and Gore, Intense Violence  Click here for details.

In Europe, PEGI rated this as appropriate for 18 and older.  They stated the following: It contains: Extreme violence – Violence towards defenceless people. (They spelled defenseless wrong…)

In Germany, USK rated this for 16 and older only.  In Australia, the ACB rated this M, which means 15 and older for: Strong violence and online interactivity.

Would I let my child play it?  Well, he’s only 5…so, no.  He has walked into the room while I was playing and expressed a distaste for the way the orcs look.  He said he wasn’t scared, but he said they were scary and gross.  Anyways, mature is a good rating for this game simply due to the extreme violence shown.  You are quite literally chopping the heads off of orcs for much of the game.  In the Fight Pits, your orc may even hold up the severed head of his now dead opponent to show it to you.

If you’re totally okay with extreme violence and you just want to know what else you should know:  there is no foul language, no drug references and while Shelob (an important character) is very sexualized compared to the original media, there is no sex, simulated or implied.  

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Understanding the ESRB rating system

Who and What is the ESRB?

The Entertainment Software Rating Board is a non-profit, self-regulatory body–BLAH, BLAH, BLAH.  Essentially, it’s a group of people who review the content of games (and, as of 2015, apps) and determine the recommended age for playing such content.  All of the ESRB raters are adults who have some experience with children (parents, educators and caregivers).  To prevent influence from outside sources, the raters remain anonymous.

The ESRB works with retailers, big and small, to ensure that your children are not purchasing these games.  The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2011 that video games are a constitutionally-protected form of expression, and that laws restricting their sale or rental based upon violent content would be unconstitutional.  These retailers, like GameStop, Best Buy, WalMart and hundreds up hundreds of others are voluntarily restricting the sale of M and AO rated games.

What do the ratings mean?

esrb_content_descriptors

 

You will see images like this on the back of videogame boxes.  This particular one is rated E for everyone and lists two factors leading to the rating.

 

There are 7 possible ESRB ratings that you may see:

Early Childhood Rating

 

Early Childhood – This content is intended for young children.

 

Everyone Rating

 

Everyone – This content is suitable for all ages.  It may contain carton/fantasy/mild violence and even some use of mild language.

 

E10 Rating

 

 

Everyone 10+ – This content is suitable for ages 10 and up.  It can have minimal suggestive themes.

 

Teen Rating

 

Teen – This content is suitable for ages 13 and up.  It can contain things like violence, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and some strong language.

 

M Rating

 

Mature – This content is suitable for ages 17 and up.  It may contain strong violence, blood and gore, sexual content and strong language.

 

AO Rating

 

Adults only – This content is not suitable for children under 18.  It can contain prolonged intense violence, graphic sexual content and real gambling (with real currency).

 

Rating Pending

 

Rating Pending – This is exactly what it sounds like, the rating has not been assigned yet.  It will be replaced with the appropriate rating once assigned.

 

There are many additional descriptors that can be used with these ratings.  Many are self-explanatory:  Alcohol Reference, Animated Blood, Nudity, Real Gambling.  There is no real question what these mean.  Others can be more ambiguous:  Mild/Moderate/Strong Language.  The word mild (according to ESRB’s own website) is intended to convey low frequency, intensity or severity.  Others that can be used include Sexual Content, Strong Lyrics, Partial Nudity, Use of Alcohol/Drugs/Tobacco and Violent References.  This list is not all-inclusive, but just offers a few of the warning descriptors you may find while browsing through the videogame section.

 

How do you decide if you should buy the game?

Those additional descriptors listed on the box are there to help you in making the decision to buy or not buy a game for a child.  Sometimes games are rated Teen, but they are suitable for some younger children.  You cannot lump every 12 year old together and say “NO!  You can’t play that game!  You’re not 13!”  Some children can handle things earlier than others and some cannot make the distinction between real and fantasy.  These ratings are not the end all be all of ratings; they are a guideline and should be used as such.  It very much depends on the child, which is where you, the parent, come in and make the final decision.

Games like Grand Theft Auto V and Middle-Earth: Shadow of War are rated M for a reason.  If you have a 15 year old asking for an M rated game, do your research before you rush out and buy it for them because “Victor’s mom bought it for him!”  Maybe Victor’s mom doesn’t know what it is…or maybe Victor’s grandma bought it for him because Victor told her it was totally okay for him to play it.   My mom wouldn’t have a clue if my son wanted a game that wasn’t age-appropriate; she would buy it for him because he wants it.  Me being a gamer makes it pretty rough for him to sneak anything past me when it comes to games.

Hit up YouTube for a gameplay video, not a trailer.  Remember that trailers have to be suitable for all audiences or they wouldn’t be able to air them on basic cable.  If the game isn’t out yet, you will have a harder time finding content.  If the game is out…believe me, YouTubers are playing it and posting videos.  There is a kind of video called a “Let’s Play” video that is literally just some YouTuber playing the game.  YouTube is your friend.  Google is your friend.

Now, I know what you’re thinking…I don’t have time for that, right?  This could be the difference between your kid playing a game that condones the player killing cops and not playing that.  Take 15-20 minutes to make sure that you want your kid playing the game you’re about to buy.  Beyond that, ASK.  Asking the sales clerk at the store can sometimes tell you all you need to know.  Sometimes they’re useless and don’t know anything about the game, but if you go to a place like GameStop…they’ll know.

Online Interactions

One thing to note when purchasing a game is the online functionality.  I know, we’re getting into the deer in the headlights look territory for non-gamers…but stay with me.  Online interactions are not rated by the ESRB.  What does that mean?  It means that your kid could be exposed to who knows what online.  In this generation of gaming, people use headsets to communicate online.  Some of those people are not nice people.  Don’t ban all games with online-play; that’s not the answer.  Just pay attention.  Mature rated games will have much rougher online scenes than Everyone rated games just based on the median age of the players drawn to that type of game (there are some exceptions).

 

The Bottom Line

The bottom line on this is simple.  Educate yourself.  Know what the ratings mean and pay attention to the descriptors.  You are the only one who can decide if your child is mature enough to handle the situations in a game.  I cannot say it enough, education is the key here.  This should go without saying, but if you feel that your child is too young to play a game, it doesn’t matter what Victor’s mom thinks.

The ESRB has a Parent Resources Center that you should check out if your child has a console that you know nothing about.  The consoles have built-in options to help you restrict what your child can and cannot do and play on the system.  It varies by console, you should definitely give it a look.

Got a kid asking for a game and you aren’t sure about it?  Drop me a comment and I’ll do my best to help you out.

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