No one ever accused Hasbro’s Game of Life board game of being an accurate representation of the real thing, but when I was a kid, it was sort of a low-tech version of The Sims: a sketched-out simulation with simple choices that leave out a lot of the messy details all of us face on a daily basis. Need a career? Sure, why not be a schoolteacher, or maybe a graphic designer; no need to dicker with resumes, job interviews, and office politics.
Of course, unlike The Sims, The Game of Life comes to a conclusion, and as in the adult world, a lot of emphasis is placed on retiring with oodles of cash, cushy investments, and a nice home. There’s no option to win because your career was spiritually fulfilling, or because you did an awesome job of raising your kids, who all went on to win Nobel Prizes and cure cancer. Yeah, okay, that’s not realistic either.
What is realistic, however, is EA Mobile’s digital version of The Game of Life. From the distinctive click of the spinner to the career versus family decisions to the layout of the board itself, EA has captured everything you remember about the game. I really appreciated the many little touches too, such as the leaves and snowflakes that drift across the screen, the cars’ beeps as they pass opponents, and many of the ambient sound effects. When it’s your turn, you can even use the touchscreen to move around the game board and survey the current situation.
You can play solo against computer opponents or with friends in pass ‘n’ play mode. There’s no multiplayer option via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, and you can’t adjust the computer players’ difficulty settings – they seem to be adequate opponents, however. There’s also no way to tweak the rules to your liking, although unique rules tend to be more common in games like Monopoly, which have larger fan followings.
Overall, this is a solid entry in a growing lineup of EA’s adaptations of Hasbro board games. As of this writing, the current Game of Life page at the App Store promises that Battleship is coming soon. That news conjures up many nostalgic memories for those of us who grew up in the 60s and 70s.