Grind your way to riches!
What happens when you mix random Mario characters along with Dragon Quest characters and throw in the principals of a Japanese, property-based board game? You get Square Enix's Boom Street (known as Fortune Street in some locations), a game that will test your mettle when it comes to money management, asset acquisition, buying and trading stock, and stamina. How does this classic Japanese board game fair after the transition to the digital age?
What Boom Street Got Right
Variety - Boom Street certainly offers up a lot of variety. Whether it be the mechanics involved in playing the game, or even just the large number of impressive game boards, you'll always be doing something different throughout the course of your game. Building shops, upgrading them, buying stocks, increasing property value, competing in a series of mini-games when required - there is always going to be a lot to see, do, and keep track of in Boom Street.
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Deep single-player - While Boom Street is a competitive game at heart, it features a deep and engrossing single-player experience that can easily fill the void if playmates aren't available. Using the instantly recognisable characters from Mario and Dragon Quest, the player will be facing off against these quirky and sometimes, quite hilarious characters as they battle against each other for financial gain. Unfortunately you can't play as one of your favourite characters - players are required to use their Mii's which is both understandable, however a little frustrating.
Unlockables galore - Boom Street rewards players for their efforts by unlocking extra clothes and animations for your Mii's after playing single-player matches. There are also an assortment of items available to purchase with credits earned in the game, so if you want everything, you'll be playing for quite some time.
What Boom Street Got Wrong
Boom Street is complicated. Learning the theories and mechanics behind the purchase of property, the importance of Stocks, their fluctuation and where to invest your money would have most people on Wall Street questioning their sanity. With this kind of learning curve, most gamers, particularly the casual audience that boardgames appeal to, will be instantly turned away. That just leaves hardcore gamers, and statistical buffs who will have even the slightest of interest in checking this out, which won't be a large portion of gamers out there.
Grind away the day - Boom Street is not going to be over in 30 minutes - players will need to set aside a good hour or more to play an intense, and fulfilling game with their friends or family. For those who don't have friends or family willing to set aside the time, you can head online against randoms, but without voice or video support, that makes the experience feel lonely and cold. It's a long slog, and it really isn't that enjoyable.
Mini-games feel out of place - Just like the Chance and Community Chest cards in Monopoly, Boom Street has random occurrences that will have players completing a mini-game of sorts to determine the outcome. While the mini-games are a welcome change of pace from the standard board-based game, they seems out of place and ultimately unnecessary. Most of them are completed solo, and the lack of multiplayer participation really lets things down.
The Final Verdict
Boom Street is an interesting mash-up of a Japanese board game with classic Mario and Dragon Quest characters. On paper, it sounds like a challenging and fun multiplayer experience, however in practice it feels like you need some form of financial degree and a spare 12 hours to achieve anything. As a result, Boom Street will only appeal to a select few, which makes the premise of a digital board game seem pointless if you have no friends or family who will join you on that quest. It's not a horrible experience, but it's one we could do without.
By Stephen Heller