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Boom Street

Make money quick! Although we might be lying about the 'quick' part...

What is money? Where does it come from, and where does it go when we spend it? Someone somewhere pondered these questions in the summer of 2008 and came to the chilling realisation that nobody actually knows.

The result: quadruple-dip recessions, 127% unemployment and no more Woolies pick 'n' mix. Robert Peston may not say it in so many words, but that's the crux of what happened.

So while you're sat waiting for the bailiffs to come and repossess your kidneys, there are worse ways to spend your time than playing a game engineered to teach you about how money and the mysterious 'stock market' works. Welcome to Boom Street (formerly Itadaki Street ), a digital board game conceived by Dragon Quest creator Yuji Horii, which sees DQ, Mario and Mii characters attempt to run each other out of business on a succession of increasingly awkwardly shaped boards.

Zoom

It's a weird triumvirate to be offering financial advice. Hyperinflation has rocked the Mushroom Kingdom so hard that you can find coins just abandoned on the streets, while the Dragon Quest economy is so borked that even a lowly beast carries enough loose change for a low-end broadsword. And we all know Miis spend every penny they have on jigsaw pieces.

Anyway, Boom Street's underlying structure is almost identical to Monopoly, albeit with a few stock market twists. Four of you scoot round a board, snapping up shops as and when you land on them and gradually developing them when the opportunity arises.

There are two main ways to increase their worth: either invest in them manually, or own another shop in the neighbourhood (think Monopoly's colour bands), in which case the value of all your shops in that area will rise. The more valuable the shop, the more your foes have to pay out when they land on your square. Suckers!

OCCUPY WALUIGI STREET
As such, the opening few rotations of the board are a mad dash to secure as many properties as possible, since this is the most reliable way to increase your capital over the course of the game. To win the match, you have to be the first to get your net worth over the target figure and then make it back to the bank with a playing card from each of the four suits in your possession. (The board layouts aren't linear like Monopoly's, so the cards are scattered around the board to ensure that players make a full rotation before they claim their bonus for passing 'go').

Alternatively, the game will end if one of the players goes bankrupt (in which instance the player with the highest net worth at the time wins). But this is an unlikely scenario due to the way the game calculates your success. See, when you buy a property you don't actually lose the money - it just transfers from your 'ready cash' to your 'assets' folder, with the two combining to form your 'net worth'.

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While it's tempting to splash all your ready cash on property investment, it's worth keeping enough change in your pocket (if your character has one) to pay in-game fines, because if you don't, you'll have to sell off one of your shops. (There's also the chance to auction one of them off if you reckon one of your properties is valuable enough to spark some kind of a bidding war.)

If you don't fancy that, you can instead sell off any or all stocks that you've invested in one of the neighbourhoods. The stock market is the heart of Boom Street, and the key to getting your snout ahead in the net worth rat race.

As you invest stocks in a neighbourhood, the value of the properties within it rises, so ideally you'll tie your stock options with your business portfolio for maximum profiteering. Share prices can fall rather than rise depending on your rival's movements, so it pays to not have all your fingers in one pie (so to speak).

The stock market adds a satisfying level of strategy to what is otherwise a moribund board game (sorry, Monopoly), but solid fundamentals are rendered pointless by a crippling lack of pacing. Individual games drag out for literally hours at a time, making it a very unpalatable multiplayer title, particularly as the players themselves have very little interaction with each other - what few minigames there are are resolutely single-player experiences.

A quick-save option means the Campaign mode fares a little better, but although the various themed boards add variety, the investment required means that you'll tire long before it's done. Time is money, and sadly Boom Street asks for too much of both.

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The verdict

Despite plenty of colour and 'cheeky' dialogue it's as uplifting as a Wilfred Owen poem. It also lacks the personal touch that a physical board game provides.

  • Good writing
  • Very charming
  • Require serious time investments
5.7
Format
Nintendo Wii
Developer
Square Enix
Publisher
Nintendo
Genre
Puzzle, Party, Adventure

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