The Battle of Indy Board Games
Wal-mart exclusive Indiana Jones Monopoly vs.
Target exclusive Indiana Jones Game of Life

Indiana Jones Monopoly and Game of Life board games

Over the next couple weeks, I'm going to ahve some unusual reviews, at least in the sense of my 'normal' stuff.  I'll be looking at items that are certainly different, starting with tonight.

There are two Indiana Jones board games out there that are exclusive to two different retailers.  Target has a Game of Life based on the license, and Wal-mart has a Monopoly version based on it as well.

Indiana Jones Monopoly board game

Indiana Jones Game of Life board game
Indiana Jones Monopoly board game
Indiana Jones Game of Life board game
Indiana Jones Game of Life board game
Indiana Jones Game of Life board game
Indiana Jones Monopoly board game
Indiana Jones Game of Life board game
Indiana Jones Monopoly board game
Indiana Jones Game of Life board game
Indiana Jones Game of Life board game
Indiana Jones Game of Life board game pieces
Indiana Jones action figure and Monopoly Holy Grail

Now, I feel it's important to exhibit my bias up front.  I hate Wal-mart.  Yea, I'm one of those people.  But sometimes Wal-mart has things that no one else does, making it tough not to buy there.  This Monopoly game is a good example.  Yes, it's sad.

While it might appear I have a bias towards the Life game because of the specific retailer, it's also worth noting that while I enjoyed both of these board games as a kid, my prefered game was Monopoly.  So while I have my bias', they go either way, and are probably not going to end up effecting my final verdict.

The Game of Life is about $20, while the Monopoly game is close to $30.  You can get them at the stores of course, or at their online counterpart.

While the Monopoly game is technically Parker Brothers, and the Life game is technically Milton-Bradley, remember that these are BOTH Hasbro games.  However, by the time you're done with this review, you'll realize that same company but different divisions can make a huge difference.

Packaging - Monopoly ****; Life ***
Here's a category where it isn't even an fair comparison.

The folks at MB give it a shot, but their attempt just isn't up to the level of quality that is there with the Monopoly game.  The Life box is designed to look like Indy's suitcase, and they did give the cover a textured, leathery feel.  The straps are smooth though, as well as the logos.  The graphics are good, and it's certainly eye catching.

But that Monopoly box is SO cool, it's almost a good enough reason to buy the game all by itself.  It's an all wood box, designed just like a crate in the Area 51 warehouse.  While most of the sides say "Monopoly", one side does say "Property of Dr. Jones" with a serial number.  On the top is also the Monopoly name, along with the Indiana Jones name and a cool logo.

Remember when you were a kid and played around with a wood burning kit?  That's what the lettering on the box looks like, although in reality it is a different printing process that sinks the logo and letters into the wood without the scorching.

The lid of the box slides in and out, and all the pieces fit nicely inside even after you've opened everything up.  Don't you hate it when you open up the pieces and put things together, and you can't get the damn lid shut again?  That's not a problem with the Monopoly game, but I did find it to be a bit of an issue with the Life game.

Finally, the Monopoly game even comes with a cool parchment style "Certificate of Authenticity" with a serial number.  Sure, there's no shortage of these games, but it's still nice to see they went the extra mile.

Board/Pieces - Monopoly ****; Life ***
The Game of Life always has a cool board.  Here there's several pieces that attach to the board itself, including the spinner of course, as well as the Museum, rock outcroppings, and bridge.

There are three plastic artifacts to get: the Ark, the Grail and the Stones.  Your token that moves around the board is a small plastic Indy, done in a bright army man style plastic, like yellow or red.  Other pieces include paper money, thick 'life tiles', and a deck of Adventure cards.  The tiles have varying dollar amounts along with the names of different artifacts on them, including The Philosopher's Stone.  Take that, J.K. Rowling.

The Monopoly game might cost more, but you can see why.  If I was just grading this on the board graphics itself, the Life game would win.  It's the more attractive board, with better graphics and design.  The Monopoly game isn't ugly, but it's pretty much the basic board with new names on the properties, and some additional graphics in the center.

But like usual, Monopoly has those cool tokens.  They are metal, painted a bronze patena style.  There's the curled whip, the trademark hat, the grail diary, the grail itself, the Crystal Skull, and the ore car from Temple of Doom.  All of these are very nice looking, and the Grail is actually big enough to work as a sixth scale accessory.

Normally, there are hotels and houses with Monopoly.  In this version, they've replaced the houses with little plastic Fertiility Idols, and the hotels have been replaced with Arks.

While the Life game has the spinner, Monopoly has dice.  I was hoping these would be artifact-like in their design, but they are just standard white dice.  The money (which has been renamed "reputation points" for some silly reason, even though the dollar sign is still present) has various artifacts printed on it, but comes in the same denominations as usual.  The money in Monopoly has different graphics for each denomination, but the Life game uses the same graphic with just a differing amount and color.

The Title Deeds look the same as always with the exception of the change of property names, and the Community Chest and Chance cards have been changed to Fortune and Glory cards, with lines and situations right from the films.

In the end, the Monopoly game is the much better visual adaptation, and does a better job fitting the Indy style to the original game look and feel.

Game Play - Monopoly ***; Game of LIfe **
Both of these games are near and dear to my heart, along with other classics like Stratego, Yahtzee and Battleship.

If you remember how to play Monopoly, you'll know exactly how to play this game.  The property names have changed, the look of the pieces have changed, and the text on the Fortune and Glory cards might be different, but the game play itself is essentially the same.

That's not the case with the Game of Life.  Let's face it, getting married and picking a career, having little blue and pink pegs added to the back of your car, really doesn't make much sense for an Indy themed game.  So they tried to adapt the play, but they came up woefully short.  You're merely trying to collect as much cash and artifacts as possible, and getting to the artifacts will be the very first thing everyone tries to do. Getting them is VERY easy too, and once they are gone the game gets pretty dull.  

The board has four different colored 'tracks' you can follow, three of which include one of the artifacts.  Traveling along these tracks, you draw Adventure Cards, and based on the current color you're on, you do whatever it says - collect or lose money, life tiles, whatever.  The game is designed for you to go through the full stack of Adventure Cards once, and that's pretty much it. Yea, you can steal from each other, and there's some use of "Partner" cards that make the game a bit more role play-like, but it's too little too late.

Value - Monopoly ***;  Life **1/2
You're getting a great value on the Monopoly game, even if you're paying about eight bucks more.  The box and tokens make it well worth spending the extra cash.

Overall - Monopoly ***1/2; Game of Life **1/2
Yea, I might hate Wal-mart, but that doesn't mean I'm going to tell you the Target exclusive board game is better.  It's not.  The fun of the original Game of Life has been sucked right out of it, leaving a not particularly attractive shell.

The Monopoly game is more expensive, but considering the exceptionally cool box and the nice metal playing tokens, it's money well spent.  The cheaper plastic pieces in the Game of Life ain't doing it, particularly the silly little Indy's that are merely different colors.

If you're an Indy freak, get them both, but if you're looking for a game you can actually play with the family and have fun, stick with Monopoly.  They made some minor changes, but it's still the basic game you know and love.

Score Recap:
Packaging - ***
Board/Pieces - Monopoly ****; Life ***
Game Play - Monopoly ***; Game of LIfe **
Value - **1/2
Overall - Monopoly ***1/2; Game of Life **1/2

Where to Buy -
Pick up the Monopoly game at Wal-mart (probably in the board game aisle), and pick up the Game of Life at Target (usually on an end cap with the other Indy merchandise).  The Game of Life usually runs $20, and the Monopoly game is around $28 or so.

Related Links -
Other Indy reviews include:

- another unusual Indy item is the Blockbuster exclusive DVD case.

- I also put together a print article for the Toledo Free Press on the various Indy collectibles out there.

- I reviewed the 12" German and Cairo Swordsman, as well as both 12" Hasbro Indy's.

- in the smaller scale, I looked at some of the deluxe two packs and several of the single pack figures, with a few more over at QSE.

- There's a number of cool Lego sets, inlcuding this one.

- Gentle Giant did a 7" version for the Disney parks. 

- Disney has done a few other Indy figures, including this wave of small ones

- and if you're looking for something a bit bigger, check out the very cool sixth scale Grail diary, or this sixth scale figure.


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Indiana Jones action figure and Monopoly board game

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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