Tag Archives: board games

The Problem with Licensed Products

Monopoly may be the most iconic board game out there. Its minimal design compliments the dry complexities of balancing mortgages, taxes and lengthy play.

That careful consideration is apparently thrown out the window with licensed versions, most recently MONOPOLY: The Legend of Zelda Edition.

The centerpiece Link on this board game mash-up is the worst eyesore. It’s a tiring distraction that takes me away from the other details. I would have much preferred a subdued Triforce behind a centered Monopoly logo, or just a lone gold and green Monopoly logo. Even the symbol collage on the cover of Hyrule Historia holds a fairly robust LoZ history. Why not pop that in the center of the board.

Aside from the obnoxious centerpiece, the box uses the same cartoon green from Hyrule Historia, a book I’ve walked away from purchasing number of times based on the shade of green alone.

It’s a sad state of affairs when officially-licensed video game products that don’t look like officially-licensed video game products are few and far between. Maybe this is why fan art is so prevalent and highly-regarded. (Hint, hint)

If you’re going to build physical items from virtual worlds (especially cartoony ones), tailor them to the aesthetics that work in the real world. Make them fit. We do not live in Hyrule nor The Mushroom Kingdom. It’s likely no mistake that Mickey’s Toontown rests at the rear of the Disneyland. It is of pure novelty while the rest of the park feels inhabitable.

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Garnett Lee of Garnett on Games on exclusively multiplayer vs. exclusively single-player games:

We still have vestiges of the prior generations where it’s just sort of natural for those us who have been playing games for a long time to think of single-player as “the game” and multiplayer as “the extra you get with the game.” I think that that influences us at times. However, I think that there are a number of multiplayer only games that you can point to that are very, very successful as stand-alone multiplayer games beginning all the way back with Team Fortress 2.

I was really hoping Garnett would have mentioned early dice, board, or card games.

Games require two or more players. The term “player” is embrued with human characteristics. We often forget that games can not only involve challenges with other humans but also ourselves, computers or luck. Single-player video game experiences are multiplayer experiences against computers.

From solitaire to geopolitics, humans enjoy games. We enjoy games because there is a level of risk and challenge involved that (typically) does not seal our fate. There is variety in experience, chance and strategy. If a single game provided the same experience over and over again, it would become boring. Single-player video games provide humans with a computerized variety of ways to enjoy games in solitary fashion; new mechanics, settings and competition are introduced over the course of a single game and my vary with each play-through. Online multiplayer experiences allow for the same type of human variety that is experienced when playing a dice, board or card game; the receptive mechanics, settings, and characters are a shell for a battle of experience, chance and strategy.

Exclusively online multiplayer is a remote evolution of human-to-human competitive play; however, all games are between multiple players. It is not a debate of “single-player” versus “multiplayer” game design as all games are multiplayer. It is simply a debate of preference between solitary and communal. Not all video games need to played against a computer; not all video games need to played against a human.

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