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Reviews

Boom Street - Review

Board game

Boom Street is one of the best attempts to bring the fun, strategy and luck of a board game experience to video games. While it stars Mario and his Mushroom Kingdom pals, as well as characters from Square Enix's popular Dragon Quest series, it most closely resembles Monopoly, and requires little in the way of traditional gaming ability, meaning anyone who's played a board game will feel right at home. Beginner and advanced settings also mean family members of all ages can get involved.

The game features 27 characters to choose from - 13 from Mario games, 13 from Dragon Quest and your Mii - and over 15 boards based on memorable areas from each series, with different shapes and layouts providing plenty of replay value. The basic game mode challenges players to race around the board buying, selling and trading shops in a bid to reach a target value and be the first to cash out, while the more advanced setting allows players to play the stock market too.

Property tycoon

There are a number of ways to make cash in the game. Once you've bought a shop, you can invest in it, much like you would with houses and hotels in Monopoly, which increases the penalty others will have to pay you if they land on the square. Your takings will also be increased if someone lands on your shop and you own ones next to it.

Passing the bank square, like passing Go on a Monopoly board, also earns you a payout from the bank, but only if you've already passed over the four suit squares (diamond, heart, spade and club) first on your way round the board. Each time you complete this sequence you gain a level, earning a promotion that boosts your salary.

Play the market

Playing the more advanced game mode adds a stock market element to proceedings, which allows players to further increase their value through strategic, risk-based play. Each time you pass the bank you get the option to buy and sell stocks in various colour-coded sections of the board called districts, whether you own the buildings that exist there or not.

This will earn you a pay cheque each time someone invests in that district or has to pay money after landing on a square in it. Of course, you can also lose money on stocks - if one player sells off a bunch of stock at once, the stock price plummets and all other stock owners take a hit. The mix of risk and educated guessing goes a long way to making the game more exciting.

Bored game?

While it's a great party game, Boom Street isn't without a few shortcomings. All game modes require four players, so if you're short on friends Boom Street makes up the numbers with computer controlled ones, meaning real players have to sit and wait while the computer takes its turns, which slows down the pace at times.

For a game that's best suited to playing with friends, it's also rather bizarre that only your progress in the single player campaign goes toward unlocking extra content, like new characters, boards and costumes for your Mii, meaning those who want to open everything up are required to spend hours playing against computer characters.

King of the board

While there's always an element of luck in board games, collecting suits, and buying and investing in property and stocks means players have a fair bit to juggle if they're to win, making Boom Street a satisfying, strategic and competitive title to play.

Perhaps best described as a more varied, strategic version of Monopoly with Mario and Dragon Quest themes, if you're a fan of the classic property board game or the popular Nintendo and Square Enix series, Boom Street is the new party game you've been waiting for.

Game's Verdict

+ Perfect for players of all ages.
+ Great four player multiplayer fun.
+ More strategic than most party games.

- Waiting for computer players to take their turns.
- Having to play alone to unlock everything.
- Board game haters will likely get bored.

Published: 10/01/2012

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