Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Review: Star Trek Monopoly

There can be only one.


Yes, once upon a time there was only one version of Monopoly, the game which...well, pretty much everyone has played at some point in their lives. Be it a rainy day, a Thursday afternoon at school, or family gathering [spoilers!]

The game was created in America, then very quickly (before the game went into production in the US) brought to the UK in 1935, where the 'outside the USA' license was bought and the locations changed to those of British streets.

Roll on a few years and some genius decided that it'd be a good idea to start selling more versions of Monopoly. When you sat down and thought about it, there are loads of other things that can be adapted to fit a Monopoly board. The problem with a lot (actually, all) of them is that the designers didn't change the game board much at all. The picture in the middle of the board changed, sure, but the bit where the game pieces went round looked almost identical. The corner pieces were exactly the same and ruined the whole experience.

My home-made Monopoly board looked a bit like this.
I thought of one in the mid-90s. It wasn't licensed, obviously, but it was pretty darn cool. It was based on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. The board was a circle (predicting what would actually happen many years later in the official 'Monopoly Revolution'), based on the space station in the TV show. Instead of buying streets you bought up bits of the stations - the infirmary, docking pylons, holding cells, etc.  The most expensive bits were Quark's bar & the Ops (or was it Ops & Sisko's office? It's been quite a while since I made it).

Monopoly Revolution. Again very similar-looking to my board.

Mine looked a 1,000 times better than any of the 'official' versions out there because I'd altered the board and pieces to make it into a game of Monopoly set in the Star Trek universe, instead of a game of Monopoly with a couple of Star Trek pictures.

At around the same time, Star Trek was popular. Hard as it is to believe, but around the 30th Anniversary (1996) Trek was in a golden age. Next Gen was finishing, DS9 three quarters of the way through its run, Voyager just beginning...

So of course someone else thought Trek would be a good idea for a Monopoly version too. Someone who had the ability to get it manufactured and into the shops.

It was based on Star Trek: The Next Generation. Instead of buying streets (or bits of space station) you bought 'alliances' with various races. This didn't really make too much sense, but it was enough. The best bit, however, was the paragraph in the instructions that said there were going to be 3 more Trek Monopolies released (based on the other 3 Trek series at the time) and all four could be played simultaneously.

How fantastic would that be?!

I bought my Next Gen board and waited. Soon the next board would be released and the fun would begin.

I waited.

And waited.

And waited...
My Next Gen game bits, still in their wrappers, waiting...
Meanwhile Trek was losing its appeal. DS9 ended, Voyager turned out to be a bit pants, as did the Next Gen films. Star Trek simply wasn't popular any more. You used to be able to find Trek merchandise in Toys R Us, heck, even card shops like Clintons. Not any more.

The pewter playing pieces - still sealed! Waiting...
And I was still waiting for my next games.

A certificate of authenticity. They throw these about a lot with scifi merchandise.
Later I learned that a second version had been released, based on the original series, but only in America.


Time moves forward again.

Over the past...length of time...I've been using the power of the internet (and ebay) to buy up all those things either a) I couldn't find to buy when I was younger, or b) couldn't convince my parents to buy me.  Things like the Hero(/Ninja) Turtles van ('I'm not getting you that,' said Dad. 'I'll make you one'. A 'one' which was built like a tank and created huge dents in the furnishings when you crashed it, much to the annoyance of my mother). Or the ThunderCats Lair (my mum laughed at me when I told her I wanted that for Christmas back in the day. My eventual purchase was...well, it was kind of an accident, but that's a tale for another time).

And so, eventually, I finally got my hands on a copy of the Star Trek original series Monopoly board!

The final two versions, sadly, were never released. But still, at least I can kind of get the intended wormhole action to work to work between the two boards I have.

(amusingly, in the instructions it states 'in the unlikely event that fewer than 4 versions of Star Trek Monopoly are produced, game play via wormhole may occur in fewer than the intended 4 quadrents'.)

Looking at two boards side by side, you wonder what kind of giant table you'd need to play with four! It's HUGE.

Yes, the design could be a heck of a lot better. Yes, my version was a heck of a lot better (oh why did I bin it?). The overall quality has dropped a lot between 1st & 2nd boards (instructions have gone to b&w, box of cheaper cardboard). But this Christmas, when the inlaws suggest doing something 'fun' like not going to the pub and playing a board game instead, I'll be able to bring out the ultimate in Trekopoly!

Oh yes, I will own* the galaxy**!

*have alliances with
**1/2 the galaxy.

Another certificate of authenticity. Told you they come with almost everything scifi.

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