Somebody got my kids the board game Life for Christmas this year, and we finally opened it the other day. I always loved this game as a child, but, in keeping with a trend I've noticed in the toy & game industry, it is now constructed more cheaply while being infinitely more complicated. I don't think my own life has been quite as complex as the one I led while playing the endless game yesterday.
Fittingly, in order to start a career in Life, you either get a loan for $100,000 to go to college and, lawyer, accountant or other job with higher salary, or you skip school to become a mechanic, salesperson, entertainer, etc. (I like that they have entertainers and athletes as the low-paid dummies who got no education.) If you go the education route, you can pay off your loans later. Throughout the game you have various pay days and pay raises, but you can also lose your big-paid lawyer job and get sent back to a career as a mechanic, which we all know happens quite often. Just the other day my former doctor gave me an oil change at the 10-minute shop.
One thing I found annoying about the game is that you get paid whenever you go past a pay square, not only when you land on it. This leads me to a warning:
If you ever play Life, do not be the banker! You will work your tail off!
On almost every turn the banker has to give out salary pay, or offer up available starter homes, or deal with long-term investments, or do payouts on "Spin to Win" lotteries, or some other craziness that has been tacked on to this once-charming game.
In addition, every 10 squares or so is a special orange square that forces everyone to stop to get married, to choose a new career path, to choose a starter home, to enhance your chances of having children, and more. This is not a game of flow. It is a marathon of start-stop endurance, sure to leave only the 10-hour Monopoly fan happy when it is over.
I was also very disappointed in the game's spinner. What used to be a well-constructed molded plastic controller that could spin about a hundred times with proper wrist action has become a cheap plastic put-together jobber that doesn't give nearly the same spin satisfaction. The base also flies out of the board if you spin too hard.
My son won, so everyone left happy. But it will be a while before I slog through that Life again. My own is difficult enough.
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