Licensed in over 100 countries, with more than 300 versions and printed in at least 37 languages, Monopoly is a board game that many of us remember fondly from childhood (or not so fondly, by those of us who sucked at it). The game has been around since 1903 and sold commercially since 1935. Although originally created to promote the economic theories of American political economist Henry George, Monopoly has evolved to inspire a wide range of local versions and spin-offs, some of them highly successful, others not so much.
Here are five of the most intriguing.
While the name implies that this would be a fast-paced version of the original board game, Express Monopoly was actually a rummy-style game using a deck of 42 cards. The game was released in the mid-1990s and saw players racing to complete color group sections of the game board (a miniature version of the original board, which fitted together like a puzzle) in order to score points.
Monopoly Millionaires’ Club
The have been various electronic versions of Monopoly over the years but Monopoly Millionaires’ Club took the game to the next level in 2015, turning it into a game show for US TV. The audience was split into five sections, named after some of the original playing pieces: battleship, boot, cat, dog, and wheelbarrow. Contestants from different sections of the audience competed to win a series of games, with a top prize of $100,000. The show culminated with one audience member having the chance to win $1,000,000 in the ‘Go for a Million’ round.
Monopoly Millionaires’ Club was hosted by comedian/actor Billy Gardell and ran for two seasons in the US before being cancelled. It was rated just 6.1 out of 10 by IMDb.
One of the most successful and entertaining Monopoly spin-offs is Monopoly Bingo. EA and Hasbro worked in partnership to announce the launch of the first Monopoly Bingo game in 2013. Since then, Monopoly Bingo has been embraced by a wide range of online bingo sites and mobile apps in response to its popularity with players. There are even websites out there dedicated to reviewing the newest games on the market.
Classic Monopoly rules are blended with bingo boards in order to create a hybrid of the two games. Players can use multiple cards for even faster-paced action. Prizes range from cash on online bingo sites to in-game credits and rewards for those playing through gaming apps.
Anti-Monopoly is one of the most controversial spin-offs of the original Monopoly game, having inspired a ten-year trademark lawsuit between Parker Brothers (owners of the Monopoly trademark) and Anti-Monopoly’s creator, Professor Ralph Anspach.
Anspach was inspired to produce Anti-Monopoly as he felt that the original Monopoly game taught players that monopolies were a good thing and to be desired. Anspach’s economic theories focused around a free-enterprise system, to which monopolies are inherently harmful. Anti-Monopoly players have to break up business monopolies by acting as federal case workers and bringing indictments that serve to bring about the return of the free market.
The game has been in print since 1973 and remains available to this day. It even inspired two further spin-offs in Germany, with squatters taking over the town in one and the other focusing on ridding the town of polluters.
Essentially a simplified version of the original game, Monopoly Junior was designed in order to enable younger players (aged five to eight) to take part. The game uses the same dynamic as Monopoly, but with a smaller game board and simpler rules. Instead of streets, players buy a range of amusements, from a skate park to a video game arcade.
Released in 1990, Monopoly Junior has been responsible for inspiring a whole new generation of young Monopoly fans, who are now able to start off playing the Junior edition before progressing on to the original game.
Latest Monopoly Updates
The original version of Monopoly remains, at its core, much the same as the edition first sold by Parker Brothers in 1935. However, the game has undergone a number of modernizations since then, mostly aimed at making the board, cards and money more durable. Most recently, electronic banking has been added, providing a calculator-style piece of kit along with a ‘bank card’ that is used to pay rent, accept your salary when passing ‘GO’ and gift funds to your fellow players.
While it’s an innovative new addition, we can’t help but think that, sometimes, the old ways are the best.