Monopoly, Trouble, Chutes and Ladders, Candy Land...what's your poison? These were some of my favorite board games growing up, and for many of them, an electronic counterpart has risen to take the place of dragging out a raggedy old game box and all the accompanying pieces and finding someone willing to sit at the table with you for an hour or so of play. Luckily the video game industry understands my pain has released several electronic alternatives to the mainstays of youth. Board games you can actually play on a console that incorporate some of your favorite characters and concepts. And because of their whimsical and entertaining nature, they're usually a lot more fun than the third hour of Monopoly where Uncle Joe's getting ready to flip the board in the floor because he just landed on your Boardwalk and hotels. So in honor of the impending holiday get-togethers that are about to descend upon us, we've got the best video game board games ever. Play them, share them, but don't throw a tantrum when you come in last place.
Board Game Top Shop
This hidden PlayStation gem from A-1 Games is a colorful outing with plenty of mall space and department stores to purchase in lieu of properties and hotels to place on them. Stores like “Aesthetics Julia” (yes, Engrish runs rampant here) or “KISS”, typical mall fare, await. As you advance a designated amount of spaces as assigned via the random number given to you at the beginning of your turn, you’ll be given the opportunity to buy properties, upgrade, and pay other players for “shopping” at their store. A rousing soundtrack sometimes conjures remnants of George Clinton’s “We Want the Funk” – you know that one, right? So that’s definitely one legit reason to check it out. This forgotten classic is a rewarding multiplayer endeavor that you’d do well to see out from any eBay seller you can or your local game shop that still sells PlayStation games.
The Mario Party series has been a reliable mainstay since the days of the Nintendo 64, and despite its shortcomings has provided one of the most complete party experiences on a console since dragging Mom and Dad over to take turns on Duck Hunt and realizing you can actually control the duck. Mindblowing, right? Combining typical board game shenanigans with a cavalcade of minigames, it offered players the golden chance to humiliate each other via gameplay or the more traditional “send other player to the bad space on the board” methods. Though it’s obvious the Shy Guys were terrible cheaters and you could never contort Mario’s face in the exact same way as the example you were shown, Mario Party was a fantastic way to round up a few friends (or enemies) and beat them into submission. Because even if luck didn’t smile upon you, you could always ground pound your opponent off into oblivion. A feature any board game should have.
Sega’s answer to Mario Party wasn’t the most technologically sound piece of Dreamcast software, but its nearly 50 Sonic-themed minigames and lush, colorful boards made up in character for what the game lacked in critical success. All your favorite Sonic characters, and even some no one really cares too much about, are available for play. It wasn’t without its shortage of ridiculous names (Lumina Flowlight, the Precioustone, Maginaryworld, anyone?) and it took a bit of getting used to before you could successfully complete a game or two, but for Sonic fans who always seem to get the worst of everything, it was a viable counterpart for Mario Party with the characters the fans actually wanted to play with. Its iffy card-based space-counting and quirky rules were a little strange at first, and its plot was a little nonsensical, but Sonic Shuffle remained one of the better licensed party games available at the time. Still worth revisiting even if it is widely regarded as one of the worst Sonic games out there.
Dokapon Kingdom is under attack and it’s up to each player (a warrior, thief, and magician) to fend off the advancing monsters and ensure the safety of the kingdom. In return, the king has offered the player who successfully saves the kingdom from the oncoming attackers his daughter Penny’s hand in marriage. Similar in scope to the other games on the list, a spinner dictates how many spaces each player can advance during each turn. Players will typically end up in RPG-styled battles and/or snap up properties along the map. A key component of the game involves friends backstabbing each other via hired assassins meant to cause harm to the other player or instances where revenue is lost due to “Dokapon Rage.” It sounds super serious, but take one look at the game and you’ll soon see it has Atlus’ trademark wackiness all over it. It’s a great party game, and one that recently made the jump to the party-centric Wii.
Mario mainstays and familiar Dragon Quest characters come together in a colorful property-snatching bonanza. Previously a Japanese-only release, the Monopoly-inspired party game pits Slimes versus Toads and so on in a battle royale for property and net worth. While there aren’t colorful minigames like Mario Party or chances to demonstrate skill over luck, you can still screw over your opponent like nobody’s business. Increase the net worth of your properties and watch as everyone lands on the space that rakes in 1000 coins. Who’s laughing now? It’s a little slower to start up than the other games on the list, but it’s still a great entry to the Wii’s library, especially for the Nintendo fans waiting for a localization all this time.
Which digital board games will you be crowding around this holiday season?