The logo for digital board game, Richman 4 Fun

Review: Richman 4 Fun (Nintendo Switch)

If this is "fun" I'd rather be boring.

10 mins read

I’ve run out of patience with the Richman series. I want to love them, but the feeling is clearly not reciprocal. This is the third game that developer/publisher, Softstar, has released on the Nintendo Switch, and not only does it demonstrate that there is little interest in improving the series, this game takes things a big step backwards.

Related reading: Richman 11 is a better game – it doesn’t solve all the faults that are present in this one, but it’s a more complex and worthwhile board game for the hardcore. Our review.

Effectively, Richman 4 Fun is a “light” version of the same basic game that we saw in the “main” series. It’s still an Itadaki Street/Boom Street/Fortune Street (depending on where in the world you live) clone, in that it’s basically Monopoly, but with a stock market layer over the top. You roll dice, move around the board, buy and level up properties, while investing in shares so that you can accumulate wealth even if people aren’t landing on your squares.

Where the “light” version comes in is simplicity. The maps are smaller and more straightforward, the characters are bigger and brighter, and the interface has been updated so it’s more appropriate for a mobile audience. It still retains the stock market and the many “attack” and “defence” cards you pick up along the way. However, it is clearly an effort to streamline the mechanics so they work for shorter bursts of play.

Richman 4 Fun screenshot, showing the board game in action.

But there is so much wrong with this game. The biggest complaint is the same as I had with the previous two: the localisation is terrible. I have many family and friends who love the Wii Boom Street (to this day the only game in that long-running series to be localised), and we still play it at family gatherings to this day. I haven’t even introduced them to the Richman series because I know that localisation makes things far too maddeningly difficult to pick up and play in a party-like environment. I’ve learned how to play the games through sheer perseverance. It would be a bit much to ask the family to waste a few gatherings just to become comfortable with this one before they had any hope of actually enjoying it.

Secondly, the port from mobile to console is appalling, and whoever designed the interface needs to rethink their career. The buttons to navigate through the options are assigned seemingly at random, and even simple things like scrolling through menu options don’t bother to use the buttons you would think they would. Want to scroll left and right to select a map to play? Yeah, no, it’s not the left and right buttons. It’s two random face buttons. Furthermore, nothing about the interface is clear or well-defined. The first time that I used a scooter card, which gives you the option of rolling one or two dice to move around the board, I basically wasted it. For several turns, I wondered why I was only rolling one dice, but then I realised that you need to manually select the “two dice” option, and only the faint outline around the dice images in the interface gives away which one you’re selecting.

Worst of all, however, the command to scroll around the map doesn’t work at all. The command on the screen says to “click down on the thumb stick and press L2/R2”, but that doesn’t work, and if there is a way to get the map to scroll I have no idea, whatsoever, what that is. I tried everything. No combination of shoulder buttons and clicking down on the stick works. Thanks to this apparently broken command, and because the camera is so zoomed in, you won’t be able to see the result of a “6” dice roll on most turns, it’s rather difficult to figure out whether you should deploy most of your items at one point or another.

Richman 4 Fun review screenshot shows the lottery minigame in action

Moving on, Richman 4 Fun’s balance is ridiculously out of whack. For one thing, you’re never going to shake the feeling that the AI is cheating its little backside off to make you miserable. In one game I played the AI rolled a “1” on the dice three times in a row. This meant they bought up all the property on one street and had a massive advantage. And then the AI rolled a “3”, skipping past two useless spaces to land on the first space of a new street of property… and proceeded to roll “1” for the next two turns to occupy all those properties as well. Is that technically possible according to the laws of probability? Yes, sure. Is it practically possible? Well, I’ve never seen a Royal Flush in Poker, either, and I’d be hugely suspicious if I was playing a game and an opponent got three of those in a row too.

Related reading: If you do like these kinds of games, then Billion Road is infinitely better. Our review of that hidden Switch gem.

And then there are the “Gods” that pop up, and break the game completely. Gods can be friendly or toxic, and either way, when you land on a square that one occupies one you’re “haunted” by it for a half dozen or so turns. They have a completely disproportionate impact on the world around them. One God will immediately upgrade any property on a square that their “owner” lands on. Another will allow them to steal – for free – the property if they don’t currently own it. Throw in the fact that the AI always lands on these things and you do… not… then you’re going to want to be a patient person when playing Richman 4 Fun, else it’ll be more a case of Richman U Broke Ur Switch.

Finally, unlike Boom Street/Fortune Street, where the stock market plays to nice and predictable rules (as people upgrade properties and buy shares, the share price for the streets associated with those properties goes up), Richman’s stock market, which you absolutely have to play if you want to win, is as totally arbitrary as the real stock market (assuming no insider trading knowledge). Numbers go up and numbers do down, and it’s a total crapshoot as to whether you should be investing in any given stock at any given time. In theory, the same basic rule about wealth management applies as it does the real world – buy to hold on to the shares for the long term – but this is a videogame and that tactic is neither particularly interesting nor useful given that each game isn’t a long-term journey of life.

Richman 4 Fun review screenshot shows the game in action on the Sydney board map.

The aesthetics are reasonably pleasant (though I prefer the look of the “proper” Richman games), but Richman 4 Fun should have stayed on mobile. It’s about as interesting as Monopoly, if Monopoly lacked the simple, clear social critique and your opponent had dice that were weighted to basically give them what they wanted. It takes a lot for a board game to be less interesting than stock-standard Monopoly, but Richman 4 Fun has lived the impossible dream and achieved just that.

Matt S. is the Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of DDNet. He's been writing about games for over 20 years, including a book, but is perhaps best-known for being the high priest of the Church of Hatsune Miku.

Previous Story

Review: Tour de France 2023 (Sony PlayStation 5)

Next Story

Square Enix just dropped a ton of new information on the next Dragon Quest Monsters game

Latest Articles