How appropriate that the Star Wars franchise should be adapted as a PC version of Monopoly. A trilogy of movies so successfully merchandised and made a part of the public consciousness deserves a spot on the original Monopoly's game board itself. (Perhaps Skywalker Ranch could replace Water Works.) Monopoly Star Wars differentiates itself from the classic board game by utilizing features available only through a computer game: the thrilling strategies of Monopoly accompanied by all the music, sounds, and scenes of the Star Wars movies. Though not an entirely bad idea, the actual combination of the two proves to be somewhat pointless.
The gameplay of Monopoly should be as familiar to most as tic-tac-toe or checkers. Each player has a marker, or in this case a Star Wars character, which moves over spaces that represent either properties to own, cards to draw, or money to collect or pay. You buy and maintain as many properties as possible without going bankrupt or having to mortgage too many properties, while seeking the financial destruction of your opponents. The droid C-3PO introduces the game and sets the scene, guiding you through the choosing of characters and rules. He also can provide narration throughout the game, explaining the scenario presented by each space on each move.
The familiar avenues like Park Place and St. James Place have been replaced by familiar Star Wars backdrops like Tatooine and Hoth. Houses and hotels have been replaced by X-Wings, TIE fighters, and starports. Oddly enough, the In Jail, Free Parking, and Go to Jail spaces are exactly the same as on the board game. (Why not replace the jail with the Death Star detention center?) There are no more problems to solve or strategies to engage than in the board game, and it's this familiarity that proves to be so dull.
Numerous nifty clips of the movies have been inserted to break up the monotony of the gameplay, though so much window dressing ultimately reveals the blandness of the game. There is simply not much else for you to do other than click the cursor on the screen's two dice when your turn comes around. Once the dice are rolled the screen quickly switches to animations of your character jumping and somersaulting around the board to the space rolled. There isn't even enough time to count out the spaces to see where you're going to land. You then have the choice either simply to buy the property or to obey whatever command comes from the computer, whether it concerns a card or paying rent to an opponent or the bank. A simpler version of the game can be played, one with a static gameboard in which stiffly posed characters slide from space to space. Even though this plays faster and a little more like the traditional Monopoly, it's no substitute for the hands-on rolling of dice in the board game.
With the more animated version of Star Wars Monopoly, a movie clip is played each time you land on a square, usually a scene with a close association with the location. Some of the clips are a little off base or simply wrong: A clip of Chewbacca in the Cloud City torture room to introduce the Cloud City Landing Platform? A clip of the Death Star throne room to introduce the Coruscant Throne Room? Nit-picking to be sure, but these clips are shown each time the gamespace comes into play, even if it's been shown numerous times already. And after a couple games these clips become a little too familiar. The clips also extend the length of your turn and add lots of needless waiting time. It's a cute feature during the first game but it quickly becomes old hat.
The most entertaining feature of the game is the voice work of Anthony Daniels, who gives life to an animated C-3PO. The credits even list Daniels as having written the witty repartee found throughout. The graphics are also quite nice, especially some of the character depictions (except for the potbellied Darth Vader), and the sound meets the standards expected from the folks that brought us THX. Despite some obviously good intentions, though, the replay value of this game is quickly exhausted. Star Wars Monopoly is more like a novelty item that can be played at most a couple of times and then passed among friends and family.