It's not too soon to start mourning the passing of the traditional board game.
Considering that versions of Monopoly, Clue, Scrabble and Boggle are being cranked out for various Nintendo game systems, it can't be long until every board game from Trivial Pursuit to Chutes and Ladders will come complete with keyboard music and a strobing video screen.
Standard Nintendo Entertainment System, or NES, and hand-held Nintendo GameBoy versions of Monopoly have been on the market since last fall.
Sega plans to release versions of Monopoly and Clue in the fall for its Genesis 16-bit system. Super Monopoly for the 16-bit Super NES also is coming to stores later this year.
Whether hand-held, standard or 16-bit, all three formats are relatively similar, but the greater computer capabilities of the 16-bit systems give those Monopoly versions more advanced graphics and sound. In fact, when players land on B&O Railroad, a train whistles.
"Monopoly is the most popular board game of the past 55 years, and this is a way to adapt it to the wave of the future," says Alfred Carosi, senior vice president of marketing for Parker Brothers, owner of the Monopoly name.
The goal of Monopoly -- to become the wealthiest player -- hasn't changed, but video players don't have to count money, handle or distribute property cards or physically put those ever-shifting plastic hotels and houses on a board.
"It's not necessarily better than the board game, it just brings the fun of it to video," notes Tim Dale, a member of Team Nintendo, a group that helps answer questions from consumers.
"Nintendo Monopoly is the same appealing game without all the pieces to deal with," Mr. Dale says. "It's one of the most popular games in our offices -- it's always checked out."
Perhaps the biggest advantage to any video board game is that a person can play solo. Super Monopoly players can play against friends or as many as seven computer opponents. The computer players' skill level can also be adjusted so the computer can be "either dumb or smart," according to Mr. Dale.
The new format of the game also helps keep the Monopoly name visible to the video generation -- some of whom may have never played the board game -- as well as helping to bring technology-weary adults into the video-game arena.
"Video games in general are popular, and Monopoly has a name that both kids and parents know," says Brad Grafton, advertising manager for the Chicago regional office of Toys "R" Us. "The name has meaning to everyone, not just to the kids, so adults might be more apt to buy a Monopoly video game than some of the others."
Clue is another board game that has gone boardless. Using the Super NES or Sega Genesis, players can play Clue by themselves or with up to five friends.
As in the board game, the players are trying to identify a killer, his weapon and the location of the murder. In video-game format, however, Super NES players will see the characters come to life on screen -- a treat for fans of Miss Scarlet, especially.
Super Clue premiered at the May Consumer Electronics Show in Chicago but will not be available in stores until fall.
The word-dice game Boggle is also available as a video game in GameBoy format as Boggle Plus. Players can play five types of Boggle: using the "dice" to create either simple or advanced word grids, unscramble anagrams, identify categories or combine all three using a total of 25 letters in a grid.
And of course, there's Scrabble. The 61-year-old word game from Milton Bradley was released as Super Scrabble for GameBoy last summer.
"It's a game that you can play against the computer or against another person, and it has five different skill levels so it can be as challenging as you want it to be," notes Mark Morris, public-relations manager for Milton Bradley. "And since GameBoy has an appeal to adults, names like Scrabble and Monopoly can't hurt."