Review: Boom Street
Posted 04 Jan 2012 at 18:51 by Joshua Phillips
|"This isn't a case of 'one minigame per round', this is a case of 'a minigame whenever someone lands on the minigame square'."|
What is Boom Street? That's what I was asking myself whilst in a puddle of tears after getting so monumentally confused by the game in play. Where are the mini games? Why is Bowser not stealing all of my coins? There's no star to collect so... where are you meant to go?!
After a while though I realized that I was being shallow and stupid to assume that this is merely "Mario Party with added Dragon Quest characters" as in fact, this couldn't be further from the truth. Imagine that this is Mario Party created by Hilary Devey; it's constantly going on about the stock market, it's all about investment and the few minigames you do come across will be lifeless and boring.
In light of this realization I decided to restart my game as Birdo (the closest thing I could get to Hilary Devey), put on my nicest suit (with shoulder pads) and embrace the game for what it is, a virtual board game not too unlike Monopoly.
So, the game is like Monopoly with added stock market twists that's all about property investment. This digital board game has actually been on various consoles since 1991 in Japan but with the Dragon Quest and Mario theme of this latest outing it's creeped into the western market.
The game sees four players prancing around a board, buying properties and taking part in the occasional mini game. Buying properties is a fairly simple affair in the sense that if you land on a property and have enough money, you can buy it. With that in mind, the first few rounds will be a mad dash of each player trying to secure as many properties as possible because if another player lands on your turf they have to pay up.
It's not just a simple case of 'getting as much property as you can' though as you'll find, increasing the value of certain properties and investing in them will see the big returns in the long run. To increase the value of your property you can invest in them manually or by obtaining a row of them. Manual investment in your properties may mean losing recently earnt money in the mean-time but when Diddy Kong reluctantly lands on your Barber Shop it will see a nice return for you (and a rather expensive trim for him) when he has to cough up a whopping 500G.
Trying to obtain a row of properties is the main concern though as if you get 2 or more properties in a row their stock rises without you having to invest your actual money - and of course, it's generally harder for people to dodge your vast array of Libraries and Fashion Boutique's than it is to avoid one lonely corner shop.
The game isn't merely about investing properties though, it's also about obtaining a set of cards and returning to the bank to get your monthly pay packet. You must obtain a playing card from each suit (you know the drill: hearts, diamonds...) which are randomly scattered around the board. The board isn't linear either, there are different branching paths and ways to go so obtaining the full pack may take a while and also may result in you landing on one too many properties.
Once you have obtained a full pack you must return to the bank where you will recieve your monthly pay packet - which is a nice bonus when you've been throwing cash in everyones direction for merely visiting their restaurants and cake stalls. Visiting the bank is very much like Monopoly's 'Go' whereby you collect £200, though this one is different in that the amount you're paid will depend on the amount you have invested, how the stock market is currently doing and on whether you have collected any bonuses on the way (which could be in the form of randomly littered cards or for successfully completing a minigame).
Talking of minigames, don't expect much here. This is no Mario Party and when it comes to dishing out the minature bursts of fun, Boom Street holds back more than an angry English man who's been served the wrong food. This isn't a case of 'one minigame per round', this is a case of 'a minigame whenever someone lands on the minigame square'. When you consider there is generally one minigame square on a board, it's an average of one minigame every half hour or less.
The lack of minigames may be a good thing though as the ones on offer are fairly simple and boring. There's no Wiimote flinging involved and not much in the way of Mario fun, it's generally a case of 'throw dart at spinning wheel' and 'remember the cards!'.
The lack of minigames isn't really a great problem though as this game is all about the board itself, investment and making money. If anything, when you really get drawn into the game you'll be furious that someone landed on a minigame square as you'll be trying to work out where your next investment lies and how much money you have to splash out on that recently obtained shopping mall.
As for the boards, there are plenty on offer here all offering different layouts and properties. They are full of charm; the Mario and Dragon Quest themed levels will surely please old fans of each series as you see yourself investing over Princess Peach's Castle and the Super Mario Galaxy 2 airship.
The set of characters is equally impressive with popular heroes such as Mario, Slime and Diddy Kong. After Mario Kart 7's rather odd mixture of obscure characters (there's no Wiggler, Queen Bee or Metal Mario here) it's nice to see a set of familiar and classic faces jump about the boards in the sky. The music is also fairly good and fans will be humming their favourite tunes long into the night. I found that even after 2 hours of non-stop Isle Delfino music, I hadn't quite lost my mind.
If you're into strategic games and still enjoy whipping out Monopoly at Christmas then this game is for you as it offers a fun strategic experience far deeper than most board games. With that in mind, you'll have to invest a lot of time as it can last hours per board. So whilst this may be great for an evening of gaming with your close friends, it certainly isn't one to fire up at a party or at a family gathering.
This game has generally recieved a rather lacklustre response but I'm going to ignore the naysayers and take a risk on this one as in my mind, this could be the Levi Roots of board games. I'm in.
N-Europe Final Verdict
An obscure yet engrossing multiplayer game that makes a nice change from Mario Party and Monopoly. It may not be everyone's cup of tea but for the strategic Mario fan, this makes for quite a fun evening.
Impressive and wide selection of boards.
Lots of replayability.
Pacing may be too slow for some.
Can be overwhelming at first.
Minigames are quite poor.