You've connected four before. You've boggled your mind to search for words, you've rolled five sixes out of the cup on the first round, and you've certainly sunk your share of battleships. But though you've done it all before, EA's hoping you'll want to do it again, in video game form, with Hasbro Family Game Night.
This board game compilation brings five classic Hasbro board games to the Wii and PlayStation 2 -- Connect Four, Boggle, Yahtzee, Sorry! and Battleship. Then, for good measure, it throws in the new-for-2008 Sorry! Sliders to round out the package. But is paying 30 bucks for digital versions of a half dozen analog games worth it? It may be, if you've got a family to enjoy them with.
Each of these six designs can only stay appealing for so long as a single-player experience, so you can go ahead and discount Game Night now if you'll only ever have the opportunity to game alone. Mr. Potato Head (who hosts the overall package) is fine company for a while, but the appeal of each one of these games is built on interactions with other humans competing against you -- not computer A.I., and not the second-string Toy Story
star (likable though he may be).
If you do have friends or family who'll be willing to pick up the extra controllers and compete against you, though, you could have a lot of fun here. So let's do the rundown of each individual game.
Connect Four is the classic checkers-stacking game, where you attempt to complete a row of four same-colored chips horizontally, vertically or at a diagonal before your opponent can do the same. It's faithfully re-created here, and as the simplest of the six designs has no issues with control or presentation. Optional extra modes let you play with special powered-up chips, though there's no beating the simple appeal of the traditional design. An overall thumbs-up for Connect Four.
Boggle is the fast-paced word search game made internationally famous by King of the Hill
's Peggy. It's a bit more complicated to re-create as a video game, because the normal analog version has you armed with a pen and piece of paper instead of a PlayStation pad or Wii Remote. The transition is tough, too, because with your actions clearly displayed on the screen in front of everyone, there's no hiding what words you've found -- traditional Boggle is impossible as a result, and instead the game becomes a race to see who can find each word the fastest. The letter selection is capable enough in the PS2 version, but pointing and clicking with the Wii Remote can be a little iffy. Thumbs-down on Boggle.
Yahtzee has no such control trouble, as its dice rolls are randomly generated whether or not you "shake up" the cup -- the point of the game is to score as high as possible in each of 13 different categories, given three rolls of five dice in each round. If you roll the dice and end up with three fives and two sixes, for example, that's a good score for your Full House category (where you need three of a kind paired with two of a different kind) and so on and so forth. Yahtzee's alternate rules options can make things much more interesting too, with variants that let you try for the lowest score instead of the highest, block out categories from your opponents, et cetera. A thumbs-up for Yahtzee.
Sorry! gets a thumbs-up too, as does Battleship -- both of them are represented well, with only minor issues. Sorry! is the pawn-moving, slide pursuit design in which you draw cards to send your four pieces around the board, hoping to knock off your opponents' pawns along the way. It plays at is always has. Battleship is the strategic naval bombardment game where you lay out a set of five ships across a squared grid and then try to discover the hidden locations of your opponent's fleet. It also play at is always has, though at the beginning of each round you'll be on the honor system to look away from the screen as your enemy places his or her pieces.
So Hasbro Family Game Night holds mostly positive points through its representations of its first five games, Boggle being the possible exception. The final game, though, might also be a little off -- Sorry! Sliders. It's a game that, from the start, can hold little nostalgic value for you since it just came out this year. And this video game version likely does little justice to the actual product.
The game is a combination of Sorry! and the sport of curling. Or shuffleboard, if you're more familiar with that than the Winter Olympic stone-throwing sport. You're given a set of four Sorry! pawns and a short ramp to slide them across. At the end of the ramp is a circular scoring zone, with pawns ending up in the middle scoring more points than those left on the very edge. The strategy of the game is simple, in that you can either try to use skillful precision to get your pawns to be closest to the center, or else you can just hurl your pieces against those belonging to your opponents -- trying to force them off the board.
It's a fun idea, and no doubt enjoyable in its analog edition. The problem comes from the control scheme used here in Hasbro Family Game Night. Sorry! Sliders is the one game among these six that actually has to deal with interpreting your physical force, and its translation there is lacking. With the Wii Remote, you'll try your best to migrate your Wii Sports Bowling skills into this design and send the pawns sliding properly, but it's still often hard to judge how quickly or slowly to swing the controller. And while the PlayStation 2 edition doesn't have to deal with motion control at all, it's not really any easier to do with just analog sticks and face buttons either.
So Sorry! Sliders, while new and novel, gets Family Game Night's second thumbs-down -- its board game version, where you'd be actually able to have a great degree of control over your shots' accuracy and power, has to be recommended over this adaptation.
Hasbro Family Game Night has one last trick up its sleeve after its initial offering of six different games -- its Party mode. In this mode (which is not even playable against the computer, so you're forced to find friends) you'll compete in a mixed-up mish-mash of each of the six main games, with Mario Party
styled mini-games based on their rules and gameplay. Each of the mini-games is very simple, though, so while Party mode may be something you'd call up once or twice, the natural multiplayer appeal of the standard games will win out in the end.
©2008-12-03, IGN Entertainment, Inc. All Rights Reserved