Hasbro Family Game Night Wii
Published by: Electronic Arts
Developed by: Electronic Arts
Christmas is fast approaching and for a lot of families it's the one time of the year where those board games get dusted off and played. Of course, the number of families that play board games at Christmas time isn't as large as it once was. Nowadays people prefer alternate methods of gaming but that's not to say that more traditional games aren't enjoyed. Electronic Arts have recently bought Monopoly to various platforms (we've looked at the Xbox 360 version) and it was mostly a very good representation of the classic board game. Hasbro Family Game Night takes six of Hasbro's games and, for the most part, does a good job of capturing the look and feel of them.
Hasbro Family Game Night includes: Connect 4, Battleship, Yahtzee, Boggle, Sorry! and the new Sorry! Sliders. Each of the games come with their customary rules and offer alternative ways to play too. There are three levels of AI opponents (novice, smart and genius) to challenge you if no one else wants to play the games with you but, as you might expect, the games are much more fun when you're playing against up to three human players (with AI players filling in any gaps). Sadly there's no online play offered which seems like a missed opportunity but it's not completely surprising. The game also offers a Party Mode which allows you to play mini-games based on each of the games included in the package. The game can be played over 10, 20 or 30 rounds and the mini-games are enjoyable diversions. The problem is that you can't play Party Mode against the AI so if you're on your own you won't be able to access the mode which is disappointing.
The games all play pretty much as expected and the controls are generally intuitive enough that you won't have any problems getting to grips with them. Rolling the dice in Yahtzee for example can either be done automatically or manually by holding down the B button and shaking the Wii remote to shake the dice tumbler. The alternate ways of playing the games can be quite interesting. In Connect 4 you can play with Power Chips that double your score, push an entire column down one place and there is even a Heavy Chip that will sink to the bottom taking out those chips in its way. Yahtzee can be played with a 'wild dice' which allows you to choose the number. This naturally makes achieving a Yahtzee much easier and it adds a subtle twist to the experience. Sorry! can be played with bonus cards that can have quite a dramatic effect on the flow of the game. Of course all of these game modifications are optional and you can just stick to the normal rules of play if you so wish.
There are some problems, some of which are due to the nature of some of the included games. Battleship requires that one player looks away from the screen whilst the other places their ships. This isn't a problem if you're playing against an honest person but it's rather silly if you're playing with someone who has Dick Dastardly as a role model. Thankfully you can auto place your ships and this keeps the locations of both players ships a mystery which is rather useful. It's rather disconcerting having your opponents seeing what words you're making in Boggle and personally I think it's one of the games in the collection that I certainly won't play very often. Sorry Sliders is a game where you really need to be able to assess the weight of your throws. The controls simply aren't good enough for you to gauge this with any kind of accuracy. In fairness this is a problem which simply highlights that the Wii remote just isn't sensitive enough and there's not a lot the developers could have done to improve the situation. I have encountered a problem with Yahtzee which is rather annoying. When trying to select a scoring option the one half of the score box will 'grey out' so that you can't select anything from it. It does sort itself out after a few moments but it is annoying (and has happened on two different Wii consoles).
Graphically the game is good enough. In fairness it's difficult to imagine how a game based on simple board games could have looked much better. The look of each game has been recreated quite effectively and throughout the game you'll see Mr Potato Head watching how the game is progressing. He doesn't say anything however, and doesn't really add anything to the experience although I daresay younger children may appreciate his presence. You can turn him off in the game's options if you want to.
Hasbro Family Game Night is fine for deaf gamers. There's no speech in the game so there isn't a need for subtitles. All of the games have a plethora of tutorial messages that appear during the games so if by some chance you don't know how to play the game you'll never find yourself in a position where you don't know what to do. Thankfully you can turn these messages off as they do appear far too often. The game manual has been well written and covers the controls for each of the games and the alternate methods of playing the games.
On the whole the Hasbro Family Game Night package is a rather good one with mostly faithful recreations of the included games. Personally I think the game is a little expensive at £29.99 (although it probably works out cheaper than buying all of the games separately) but you can find the game online for less than £20 (at the time of writing) and at that price it's certainly good value for money. Just like the real games, it's a much better experience when you're playing against real opponents but at least the AI players are decent and you can play the games when no one else is in the mood to play.