OSAKA — A new Osaka take on the globally popular board game Monopoly is proving popular amid the economic slump.

Osaka native Mikihiro Ueda, 41, who came up with the latest version, said he felt his city was a “bit dispirited,” so he wanted to liven things up.

Monopoly debuted in the United States in 1935. It is a Western version of the game “sugoroku” (snakes and ladders), in which a player tries to increase assets by buying and selling real estate and buildings, with the final aim of building a monopoly.

With the Osaka version, a player tries to increase assets by buying Osaka Castle, Tsutenkaku Tower and other notable assets to monopolize the entire city.

Ueda, an executive of the Japan Monopoly Association, hit on the idea after seeing an Akita Prefecture version marketed three years ago.

He spent about two years bringing the product to market.

“Compared with Tokyo and Kyoto, Osaka has a low profile, and I wanted to make it better known and produce a new Osaka souvenir,” he said.

The main feature of the Osaka version is that notable businesses in the mercantilist city appear in the game. They include Ezaki Glico Co.; Horai Co., a steamed dumpling company; Zuboraya, a fugu restaurant; Seed; Morisawa & Co.; and Takara Belmont Corp.

To celebrate the debut of Osaka Monopoly, a competition was held at Tsutenkaku Tower on Jan. 11 with 78 participants ranging from elementary school students to people in their 60s.

Similar events are also being held at the commercial facilities appearing in the game.

Only 5,000 sets have been put on sale, and the game has moved better than expected.

“Osaka’s attractions can be rediscovered. For children, the game offers a good opportunity to study about money while engaging in conversation. I hope they give it a try,” Ueda said.

According to the Japan Monopoly Association, Monopoly was invented by an American who lost his job in the Great Depression.

Various versions have since been marketed around the world, including Pocket Monster and Ultraman spinoffs in Japan. About 250 million of the games have been sold globally.

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