It's only ruthlessly competitive people who ever suggest playing Monopoly. This is because, being ruthlessly competitive, they're the only people who ever win. I once had such a huge row with someone over Monopoly that another player ended up tearing a hundred-pound note into three and giving us each a segment. We have since lost touch due to non-Monopoly related reasons, but if by some impossibly remote chance you're reading this, Charlotte Ginger - I am sorry.
At least the Wii version of Monopoly negates the need to set up the bank, work out change and so on, and saves you the exhausting trouble of throwing the dice and moving your pieces around the board. However, the dice animations are far too slow, and the fat bloke in the top hat spends far too much time dancing around during animated scenes you can't skip. Nor can you skip, or even speed up, computer-controlled characters' turns. Thanks for that.
It quickly becomes apparent that virtual Monopoly is just as boring as real Monopoly. The fact there are a variety of different game boards doesn't help, as unlocking them involves playing Monopoly. True, it's all nicely presented, and there are plenty of options for customising the rules to suit you. (Interestingly, the default settings do not reward players in any way for landing on Free Parking. Obviously this must be because such a rule would negate the entire point of the whole game. Yes, Charlotte Ginger - I was right.)
But the boredom will inevitably overwhelm you, which is probably why they put in the Richest Edition mode. Property is allocated at random over the course of several rounds. You compete in mini-games to improve your chances of capturing more property. This would be more enjoyable if the mini-games weren't completely rubbish, with controls that vary in complexity from "tilt the Wii remote up and down" to "shake the Wii remote up and down". Even more tediously, you have to play tedious old Monopoly to unlock all the tedious new mini-games.
For the price of Monopoly for Wii (RRP GBP 29.99), you could buy real Monopoly. Twice. Or you could just buy no Monopoly at all and spend the money on something more likely to inspire amity and harmony, like a book by Hitler.
I want to be an air hostess.
Hasbro Family Game Night
In Jean-Paul Sartre's 1938 existentialist novel, Nausea, the protagonist becomes overwhelmed with feelings of disgust and self-hatred as he becomes increasingly unable to find meaning in the world around him and distinguish between his own existence, consciousness and physical matter. I have experienced a strong identification with such feelings ever since I pretended to read the book at university, but never more since playing Hasbro Family Game Night.
Here I sit on a cold December night in 21st century Britain. I am a 31 year-old woman. I have a degree. I am playing virtual Yahtzee with a computer-generated version of Mr Potato Head. I feel sick.
I understand nothing yet I know that everything is meaningless. When I roll the dice, Mr Potato Head wiggles his elbows and does a little dance. I want to reach into the screen, pluck him into the real world and bake him. I hate him. Yet he is me and I am him. He is the heart beating in my chest, the blood pulsing through my veins. I am the moustache on his ridiculous face.
Mr Potato Head and I tire of Yahtzee. Our universal consciousness decides to play one of the other six games on the disc, which include Connect 4, Battleship, Yahtzee, Sorry! and Sorry! Sliders. But of course, they are all the same game in actuality. If there is an actuality. Boggle it is, then.
The game claims the word "irie" is invalid, yet finds "hotch", "eriach" and "recto" to be acceptable. I weep. Oli suggests playing a two-player game of Battleship instead. I agree, though I have as much desire to play with him as I have to hang myself. The game informs us each person must close their eyes as the other player deploys their ships. I fetch the rope.
Clutching madly for some desperate foothold as the void spins endlessly on, we try out the Party mode. A series of challenges based around the board games is presented; we receive instructions such as "Move the dice to match the pattern" or "Be the first to slot in the winning Connect 4 piece". The instructions are unclear, the objectives monotonous, the mini-games rubbish.
Oli rises and turns to face the window. "What score," he utters brokenly, "Will you give it?"
I stare at the cover of the game box, and the jumble of letters and shapes begins to merge into a mass of pulsating nothingness. I am reminded of the whores on the Rue Basse de Vielle as I gaze into the cold, dead eyes of Mr Potato Head.
"Probably a six, I reckon. Boggle and Yahtzee are all right, and at least you get more games for your money than with that rubbish Monopoly one."