The Game of Life
Windows - 1998
Description of The Game of Life
"You can learn about life when you play The Game of LIFE!" Many (American) readers will instantly recognize this catchy television jingle of some twenty years ago promoting the old boardgame by this name. While the fact was that the only thing you might learn was a bizarre caricature of life according to stereotypes formed during the 1950's, The Game of LIFE was certainly one of the children's/family games that most people of my generation will remember having played on at least a few occasions, along with such games as Sorry! and Clue. Of course, this is 1998, so it seems almost natural that a version would be released for the computer. Hasbro Interactive are releasing quite a few of their boardgame titles on computer (such as the aforementioned Sorry! as well as Axis & Allies), and as a result we're now able to play The Game of LIFE without having to clean off the dining room table. Is it worth it?
It all seems so absurd
The Game of LIFE is an excellent children's game because there are a minimal number of decisions to make during play. You simply spin the spinner and move as many spaces as it tells you. Thus, players don't get punished for making bad decisions: they simply get punished for bad luck. Consequently, everyone has about an equal chance of winning any given playing. As a result, this is a game that children will play with their friends or that the whole family will play together. For this reason, I'm not sure how useful a computer version of this game is. If I were a child and old enough to play a game of this sort, there would probably be far more interesting things for me to do on the computer than play The Game of LIFE. If I really wanted to play a game of this sort (again, as a child), I would be far more inclined to play the boardgame and interact with the other players directly and move the pieces myself rather than focus on the computer screen.
Gameplay consists of advancing across the board, which is divided into a number of spaces. Landing on a given space causes some "life-related" event to occur, such as having to pay taxes, or going on vacation, or some such. Players will either collect or pay money on each space, or they will collect a "LIFE tile." LIFE tiles consist of cards with random dollar values that the player reveals only upon traversing the entire game board and "retiring." The object of the game is not to be the one to traverse the board first (or even last -- you don't win if you live the longest!) but to have the most money after everyone has finished (retired). Some people might consider this a questionable goal in light of the fact that it might encourage children to be more materialistic, but I would suggest that these people lighten up. It is, after all, only a game.
That this should have occurred
The game can be played with up to six players, with any combination of humans and computer opponents (exception: no computer opponents are available for network play). "Playing" the game simply requires hitting the button that says "spinner," and watching what happens next. Obviously, this can become a bit tedious, and the fact that -- unlike the boardgame -- you don't even have to pick up and move your piece or count the spaces means that you are really not much more than a spectator once you hit the "spinner" button.
Hasbro Interactive have tried to spice the game up visually by giving you a first-person perspective as you travel across the board. In addition, there are animations or cartoons for each of the spaces on which one can land, and some of them are even mildly amusing. However, the animations can be extremely slow. In fact, a P200MMX with 64MB RAM and a 16X CD-ROM doesn't come anywhere close to running them at an acceptable framerate. I originally played the game with a friend (who had graciously agreed to try one run-through of the game in hot-seat mode) and we decided after about two minutes that the only way we would ever be able to last through the game would be to turn all the game animations off. Granted, the machine in question is not particularly fast by today's standards, but it should be fairly obvious that the type of person this game would appeal to is not necessarily going to have a high-end PII optimised for 3D-shooters and flight sims.
The interesting thing is that when I tried the game later after installing a 16MB Voodoo Banshee 2D/3D card, the animations played much better. Why this wouldn't run properly on my old video card (an S3 with 2MB EDO -- yes, it was old) is beyond me, but it seems to me that this type of machine, sans high-end video acceleration, should be exactly the type of machine the game needs to run with. Sadly, it didn't appear to do so. In fact, I would consider the "Recommended" machine configuration listed above (provided by Hasbro) to be a complete joke. Interestingly, the game booklet lists a 2MB SVGA adapter (which I had) under the recommended specs. Experienced gamers will already be familiar with games which vastly understate their minimum specs in order to encourage purchases, but for this sort of misstatement to occur with a game like this seems a tad ridiculous.
In addition, loading saved games is excruciatingly slow, and switching back and forth from the game to the control menu (in order to quit or save a game) takes forever and a day. This is precisely the sort of thing (staring at a blank screen while the hard drive runs or the CD spins up) that will cause kids to lose interest fast. This is a major point against the game, as far as I'm concerned. The game accesses the CD drive far too much, but there doesn't appear to be any way in which to install all the files to the hard drive. As a result, slow load and play times will be the norm.
The game can either be played from the first-person perspective mentioned above, or you can disable this option (which saves you from having to run a large animation window of your car whizzing around the board) and simply see a zoomed-out view of the portion of the board you are on where you watch a small car move around in a third-person view. There is even a full zoom-out option wherein players can see the entire board at once, presumably so they can keep better track of the other players as well as their own positions. This is nice, I guess, but the zoom-out makes the board so small that the writing on the spaces is illegible. Of course, since there isn't anything you can do to influence where you'll land on the next turn, I suppose having a legible board isn't necessary.
One of the most annoying things about the game is the fact that it is locked into a staid, cliched view of life circa 1950. The game is driven by what is written on the board, and the fact that this never changes means that The Game of LIFE is inextricably tied to the Eisenhower Administration. For example, a mandatory stop of "life's highway" is "Get Married," and there is (Heaven forbid) no divorce. Certainly Hasbro Interactive could have made some attempt to bring the 1998 version of this game closer to reality. For example, imagine alternate boards corresponding to various lifestyles that have joined the mainstream in recent years. One of the boards could be, say, "Urban Homosexual," in which the "Get Married" space could be replaced by "Start a Theatre Company." Or one could play on the "College Socialist" board, in which most of the game was played with the student actually still in college, whereupon his career choice becomes "work for non-profit organization." Instead of the "You're Fired! Begin New Career" space, this board could have "Discover your liberal arts degree is useless. Go to law school." And so forth. While the humor would be lost on the kids, having downloadable boards like this might be amusing for parents of my generation.
My very only secret
The game comes in two versions. The first is called the "Classic Board Game" and simply consists of the rules present in the original board version. The second version is called the "Enhanced Game," and differs from the basic game by replacing LIFE tiles with something called "Life's Little Games." These are, as you might expect, little games that are played immediately upon landing on the appropriate space. They are all quite simple, and give the players the opportunity to win money by performing a variety of tasks. For example, in one such game the player is presented with 12 identical face-down certificates, which he must turn face-up, look at the revealed value (from $10,000 to $50,000) and then reveal a second one. If they match, he keeps the revealed value in cash. If not, they both go face-down again. The player has a finite number of chances at this. This is very much like "concentration," and the other games included in the "Enhanced Version" will all strike the player as something he has seen before. All of them are on a level appropriate for the children at whom the game is targeted, and at least give the players something to do other than just hit the "spinner" button again and again.
The zoomed-in map, and one of "Life's Little Games." The game can be played solo, via hotseat, or even via TCP/IP connection. While the first two options seem reasonable for a game of this sort, I'm mystified by the inclusion of a TCP/IP option, as it calls into question who Hasbro Interactive think is going to buy the game. I just can't see children getting together for massive Internet games of The Game of LIFE, nor can I see families sitting around the computer to take on the Tikkanens that live across the street (in Helsinki). I suppose that once the decision has been made to produce the game, one might as well make it TCP/IP compatible. Still, it just seems kind of odd.
The game was quite stable, and did not exhibit any flaky behavior of any sort other than the incredibly jerky animations which played very smoothly only after the addition of a new video card as stated above. Since there aren't very many things for the player to click on, it would seem to be difficult to "break" the game: once the spinner has been spun, the game takes control of the action, and the players just watch the pictures. This makes it unlikely that the game will hang up due to unexpected, child-induced input from the keyboard or mouse.
And I had to go and leak it
Hasbro Interactive have done a nice job of porting this classic game to the computer. My only question is, well, "why?" Games like The Game of LIFE are essentially social games, and putting them on the computer robs them of the very element that would induce someone to play them. On the other hand, it could be that computers are becoming a social focal point of their own in this regard. If that is the case, I could think of a lot better things to do on the computer as a family than play this. However, if you're inclined towards this sort of thing, the game works well. Just make sure you have a fast PC and video card.
Review By GamesDomain
Captures and Snapshots
Comments and reviews
Bladez1992 2023-09-03 0 point
Hey everyone, I've had a project for a few years now making new installers for old PC games; The Game of Life is one of the games I've restored
Come check out Legacy Gamer's Union on Discord for this game and plenty of others that actually work on Windows 10/11
DaveM 2023-03-28 1 point
I've tried the life.exe in the life folder because my windows is 64 bit, but i get a different error message from that. anyone know how to solve this?
SandyW 2023-01-30 0 point
I'm trying to download Game of Life. Are there any instructions on how to download the game so I can play it?
nick 2023-01-04 1 point
if you have 64 bit error message
just extract it onto your desktop and go to the folder called life (under the direct x folder)
and then click on life.exe
jek 2022-11-10 1 point
I wasn't able to get it to work on my 64 bit at first either, but open the the zipped folder, then open the "Life" folder and double click on the life application item. I'm not able to save games for some reason, but at least it plays! Thanks so much for having this download!
MsJessie 2022-11-04 1 point
I downloaded the iso on to my iPhone but it won’t let me open it. I’m not sure what I’m suppose to do now. Been lookin for this game for years if you have any tips to help me figure it out please let me know
Zaron 2022-06-03 -1 point
Wouldn't run on 64 bit or accept changing the compatibility. Looks like a fun game
thebossbro267 2022-03-24 -3 points
the download is like a 60 min
it takes soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo long!
Sara 2022-01-11 3 points
Thanks so much for the download! This version is way more entertaining than the one available on Steam.
For anyone encountering a black screen when trying to run the game, you need to force the game to open in a Windowed mode. If you can't get it to work manually, look for and download a program called DXWnd, and it can do the job for you.
coldkeyes 2021-08-29 0 point
Can this be played over hamachi or something like it? This would be interesting to get people to play this with
WiredWolf 2021-02-07 1 point
If anyone wants to run this in multiplayer over the internet as I recently did for a game night, the ports you need to forward are 2322 and 2323. It may only be one, I'm not sure, but forwarding both did allow a surprisingly stable and effective internet multiplayer game!
spicytofu 2020-12-06 2 points
If you want to run it on a windows 10 machine, do not bother installing it. Just mount it using a virtual drive. Open the "Life" folder and just open the "life" application. It will jump right into the game
Matteo 2020-08-17 4 points
It opened with Virtual Clone Drive mentioned in these comments, but I got an error saying it isn't compatible with 64-bit windows. Any tips?
user0 2020-06-18 -5 points
Can anyone give me a little tutorial on how to run this game ? I´m not really into computers.
chill 2020-06-09 3 points
I installed this on a vm box windows xp vm and when i run the game, it is a solid black screen. Any thoughts? I can hear the sound, i just don't get any of the video.
BossHogg 2020-04-09 1 point
I was able to download the Virtual Clone Drive that DisneyGirl spoke about but how do you use it to make this download to work? No archives found is all I get when I try to extract files.
DisneyGirl 2020-04-08 1 point
I got it to work. The link for the Virtual Clone drive no longer works. I found the Virtual Clone Drive here: https://download.cnet.com/Virtual-CloneDrive/3000-20432_4-173879.html.
DisneyGirl 2020-04-06 -2 points
I tried to run this, but I can't get the .iso file to open. I downloaded one of the files they said I needed to read .iso files, but it still won't open. What do I need to do? Do I need to burn it to a disc for it to work?
Mime777 2020-03-23 9 points
Thank you so much for making this available, being able to play this game after so many years brings me a little joy during this pandemic situation
Me 2019-09-27 1 point
@Razor, i think you would go to options and wherever it says English, you would adjust to your language. That's if they have the option to change it to french.
Je pense que vous iriez aux options et partout où il est dit anglais, vous vous adapteriez à votre langue. C'est s'ils ont la possibilité de le changer en français.
bch boy 2019-09-27 -2 points
Best version of life. I run it in windows xp pack 2 for the best performance. It has a bit of lag for certain things, but the gameplay is identical to back when this was new.
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