The most common complaint I hear about the Hasbro Family Game Night series goes a little something like this: “Can’t you just play these games in real life?” This is, of course, true, and I’m sure that at some point in development EA did realize this.
To this I say, why don’t you just join the army in real life? There’s a reason: bullets hurt. And there’s a reason board games deserve virtual counterparts as well.
Have you ever attempted a Family Game Night, aside from an ironic evening with you and your twentysomething friends? Children have no attention span, and older kids, frankly, don’t either. Everyone’s looking for constant entertainment, and before you know it, little Billy is teething on the Jenga blocks and unruly teenager Kylie is deep in texting, totally lost to the game. A family game becomes a wrangling session, and no one’s having fun.
Transfer these games to the Wii, though, and now we’re talking. There’s a certain novelty to the whole “Wow, I can ___ on the Wii!” It doesn’t matter what it is: lick stamps, walk…people think this is really swell. That emotion alone is enough to make these games new again and keep family members of all ages captivated.
But that isn’t all. You also have the charming Mr. Potato Head as game show host. I am not at all ashamed to admit how much time I spent changing out his eyes, clothing, shoes, etc. to make him look like a cowboy, police officer, Tokyo gamer, and more. I roped my family into playing Pictureka with me long into the night so I could unlock another piece of an outfit. Combine that with variable hosting environments, and the plastic spud brought a lot of fun to this game.
Hasbro Family Game Night 2 includes five different full games: Jenga, Connect 4, Bop-It!, Operation, and my favorite, Pictureka. Not only does it offer these games in a true-to-life manner, but it brings a new style of play to each one that you can’t get just playing a board game. Let’s take Pictureka, for example. The game’s original mode (equivalent to the board game) pits players against each other to see who can find images the fastest on a crowded cartoon screen. Pictureka Remix offers completely new play by introducing four new cards. They include a Silhouette card, which, when selected, blacks out an image and tasks players to find it on their screen in its original form. That’s something that simply couldn’t be done in a physical version. Each game has several different modes that bring new fun to classic games that can only be had virtually.
The real crown jewel of this title, though, is the Family Game Show. Rather than playing through a single board game to the end, Family Game Show creates challenges out of all five games. Family members take turns spinning the wheel to find out which game the next challenge will come from. It might be Siege Tower from Jenga, where you fire a block at the tower to knock it down (don’t tell me this virtual version doesn’t make clean up a lot easier), or The Germinator from Operation, in which players use their Wiimotes to blast germs off of the patient. Win a challenge and you advance further on the board. By keeping gameplay (and the games themselves) varied, this style of play doesn’t get old. As soon as one of you makes it to the finish line, you’ll be back in line to play again.
Do your family (and yourself) a favor and pick this one up. Your kids will have a blast, and you’ll be pleased to see how much fun your family can have together. If you get as into it as my family and I did, you may even want to set up side bets. Losers do winner’s chores? Sounds good to me.