It's all about retro reboots these days -- and it's no different with board games. Topping Hasbro’s 2013 calendar are streamlined, stripped-down, and simplified versions of three of its most celebrated classics: Yahtzee, Jenga, and Monopoly. But are they really better, or just different? Here’s how the new hotness matches up to the tried-and-true versions.
There’s little or no downtime between turns, and once all eight combos are taken, the game’s over. It includes enough components for four players, and while the color choices are a touch questionable (seriously, whose idea was it to have black dice with the spots highlighted in dark red?), that’s easily fixed if you have a few dice laying around someplace.
Old or new Yahtzee? New. Gimmicky though the electronics seem, they genuinely add a fresh feel to what we could charitably call Yahtzee’s “well-trodden” gameplay.
Adding the timer shortens the game considerably, which cuts both ways: the game doesn’t drag on, but you do spend proportionally more time restacking the blocks. More time than playing the game, maybe. It also takes the focus away from skill, replacing it with a good-size dose of random chance. That’s good for littler players who get to laugh when Dad blows the stack up, but seasoned Jenga players won’t look on it as an improvement.
Old or new Jenga? Old. We’re not nuts about the timer.
As you’ve probably guessed from the name, Hotels focuses on building up a Trump-like hotel, floor by floor, and filling the rooms with paying customers -- but the real fun is in messing with your opponent’s hard-built empire. Most cards give you ways to force your opponent to close down his rooms, steal his cards or money, and even demolish floors of his building. Hilarity (or frustration) ensues.
Sure, it doesn’t sound much like Monopoly, but although the gameplay is wildly different the <i>feel</i> of the game is surprisingly similar. Make no mistake about it, it’s an aggressive and confrontational game, which makes for good times -- if you’re in the mood. A lot like Monopoly proper, in other words. Unlike Monopoly, though, the whole shebang’s over in a scant 20 minutes, and that’s a major point in its favor.
Old or new Monopoly? Both. Hotels has less in common with its namesake than Hasbro’s other 2013 offerings, but this is a strong game in its own right...as long as you like your games with a mean streak as wide as Boardwalk.
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