At last it's arrived fifty years after Monopoly was first produced as a board game the Spectrum's very own, and official, version of Monopoly. An appropriate way to celebrate a fiftieth birthday! The game is played according to the rules laid down for the official version of the game and that's going to lead to more than a few surprises but it should stop the arguments. The game allows for between two and six players, any number of whom can be played by the computer. You could set up a game with you playing five opponents, all run by the computer which has six inbuilt personalities available for random allocation to the tokens it plays.
The playing characteristics are meant to simulate different playing styles: Mean, Reckless, Greedy, Steady, Cautious and Entrepreneurial. Each computer -played token will act according to one of these personalities. The role of the bank is always taken by the computer which plays impeccably fairly!
Before the game begins you will be asked to enter the names of the players and which ones are to be played by the computer. Players are allowed to select the token they prefer. Next the program asks if you want to play a short game, which is played until the time limit (also prompted for by the computer) is reached. The player having the greatest worth at 'time up' will be the winner. The 'who starts first' question is resolved by the computer rolling some dice on screen. The player with the highest number starts.
The game display splits the screen into two pans. The upper two thirds show a three-dimensional view of the board with the individual properties clearly marked according to colour groups. While a token is being moved, the lower third of the screen gives a bird's eye view of the property that the token is on and the two preceding properties. In this view the properties appear exactly as they do on the real board.
When a token settles on a property the square changes to show the information normally held on the back of the real property cards. A prompt will appear asking if you want to buy the property or not. If you answer 'yes' the cost is deducted from your account. Answer 'no' and, according to the rules, the bank auctions the property. The bank handles all money transactions including the collection of rent. If an opponent lands on your property you must claim rent by pressing 'R', after that the bank takes over. Should the tenant not have enough cash the bank will automatically start selling or mortgaging the impoverished tenant's property to settle the debt. If a token lands on a Chance or Community Chest square the computer selects a card and displays that in the board square that's the end of taking the nasty ones out (Bunch of cheats round their Monopoly board, the Spencer family it seems! Ed.).
All of the other transactions that the game allows, buying and selling houses and trading properties, can be initialised by keying in the appropriate command letter when the computer will prompt for details of the transaction. All prompts and general information appear on the lower part of the screen. At almost any point a player can request a list of the properties and who, if anyone, owns them. When the list is presented individual players can then ask for a portfolio and examine each property in detail. Key 'M' and the bank will set up mortgages, a player indicates the property by positioning the cursor over it. The bank deducts a ten percent fee for all mortgages. If a player becomes bankrupt, the bank will sort out his affairs and then retire his token. A 'long game' continues until all but one of the players have been retired or until someone terminates the game with CAPS/SHIFT SPACE whereupon the assets of each player will be displayed.