Boom Street is the latest attempt to bring a board game experience to the video game medium and it's not a bad effort. It's actually the ninth game in the Itadaki Street series, a range of games that have been released by Enix and then Square Enix ever since the NES days, but this is the first one to be released in the UK.
At first glance it looks similar to the Mario Party games but Boom Street is more like Monopoly, offering very little in the way of mini-games or the need for gaming ability. This is a game about buying and selling property, making money off your opponents and relying on your financial smarts and your luck with the die, rather than how quickly you can waggle a Remote to row a raft down a volcano.
Boom Street is not a complete rip-off of Monopoly: there are plenty of changes in the rules that make the game different enough. Rather than trying to make all your opponents bankrupt as you do in Monopoly, the objective here is simply to be the first person to reach a target value.
Everyone starts off with the same amount of money and if you land on a shop (this is a game about shops, not houses and hotels) you can buy it. This will reduce your cash but, crucially, since you're getting a shop out of it, your value stays the same. Similarly, improving these shops costs you money, but the improved quality makes up for it, keeping your value unchanged.
There are three main ways to increase your value. The first is to make money off your opponents in the traditional Monopoly way - if anyone lands on one of your shops, they have to pay you. The more you've invested in the shop, the more money they have to pay you, and if you own multiple shops next to each other, the cost of landing on one of them is multiplied accordingly.
The second way is by passing the bank, much like passing Go on a Monopoly board, only you have to pass over four symbol squares and collect the heart, diamond, club and spade to make sure you've covered the full board before you can get a payout from the bank. Each time you pass the bank you level up, meaning you earn more and more money with each successive pass.
Finally, you can increase your value by playing the stock market. This obviously involves some risk and can be pretty complicated (not to mention a tad dull) but is the best way to play Boom Street tactically. Every time you pass the bank you get the option to buy stocks in each region, whether you own the buildings that
exist there or not.
Whenever a property in that region is upgraded its stock value increases, and if someone lands on a building in that area, you get a cut of their fee. If it looks like things are going well for a player, you can buy stocks in a region with a lot of their shops in it and ride their coattails, increasing your own value as they improve their buildings.
Similarly, if someone has stocks in your own buildings and they're about to reach the target amount, you can sabotage them by selling off district stocks or reducing the quality of your shops and dropping their value.
After reading all the above you may have come to the conclusion that Boom Street is about as dry as a moth licking a sheet of sandpaper in the desert, and it certainly qualifies as an acquired taste. There's none of the mania you'd expect from the Mario Party games - while the maps are based on popular Mario and Dragon Quest locations, they just sit in the background and there's no actual interaction with them - and you can go a couple of hours without encountering one of the few mini-games. But if you're a fan of board games in general, this actually isn't too bad.