Also available on: N/A
Developer: Radical Entertainment
Publisher: Electronic Arts
As Christmas raises its tinselled, slightly menacing head over the horizon, thoughts turn to a season of shopping, eating and, for some at least, boredom. To ease the latter, most families bring out often dog-eared board games as an attempt to retain ever wandering attention spans. Electronic Arts is hoping, though, that families this Christmas will instead reach for the Wiimote to play the second instalment in its Family Game Night series with toymaker Hasbro. Apart from a few issues, the recreated board games prove positive additions to a family's entertainment arsenal, making the game worth a look this festive season.
Family Game Night Vol. 2 includes digital versions of Connect 4, Bop It, Jenga, Operation and Pictureka, along with a Family Game Show mode featuring a mix of all five games. Up to four players can take part using personalised Miis or guest avatars. All games feature remix modes introducing aspects not present in the original versions, with some proving a success and others less so. Mostly, though, the package represents reasonably decent value as buying all the games individually would cost substantially more. Not bad for Christmas on a budget.
So let's start with the good. Pictureka is a really strong recreation of the original game, with a quirky art style and overall feel. The game involves rolling a dice and then turning over a card carrying a picture. Players must then locate the image on a board in the fastest time possible to win the round. Proceedings are further complicated by a series of more cryptic references for the player to spot, such as finding something 'smelly' or 'noisy'. The game features excellent illustrated drawings, including an officious penguin who rules whether choices are right or wrong. Pictureka's remix options include four additional card types offering even more obscure categories.
Another strong recreation is Connect 4, which retains the fun of the real-life game but also adds another layer. Players still need to get vertical, horizontal and diagonal lines, but there are now two sides to the board which adds a more strategic dimension to play. The game also offers three types of chips, including blockers which tie up both sides of the board. A remix mode injects more power-ups, ranging from extra turn bonuses to a cascade of chips raining down on the board. Anyone who enjoyed real-life Connect 4 will find a lot to love in the recreation.
However, the story is a bit more mixed with Operation, which is fun to play but arguably more enjoyable in its physical edition. Operation involves players pulling a series of 'funatomy' objects from an unfortunate patient lying awake on a hospital bed. In the original game, players tried to gently tease out the objects from a board without sounding the buzzer. In the recreation, players instead delve into the patient's mystery orifice to retrieve items through a series of similar shaped holes. The process is fairly enjoyable, but lacks the same sense of tension as waiting for that dreaded buzzer to sound in the original.
Jenga offers a better recreation of the famous wobbling tower of blocks. Players are able to 'tap' blocks to detect their suitability for moving, and then tug them out gently before placing them carefully on top of the stack. The remix version adds a range of wildcards, such as the player having to pull out only blocks of a certain colour. However, the fiddly controls in musical game Bop It make the recreation an unworthy addition to the package. A remix mode adding even more actions merely serves to worsen the problems.
The title's overall graphical presentation is passable, with the decent-looking games being staged in a luxury loft-style apartment with night-time views across an undisclosed city. Good performance in the games brings bonus pieces to customise Mr. or Mrs. Potato Head in a series of outlandish outfits. Players can also compete in the Family Game Show, a glitzy challenge format involving spinning a wheel which acts as a randomiser for the five main games. Up to four players can take part to try and advance around the board, with the winner earning a piece of the golden Mr. Potato Head.
As a package, Family Games Night Vol. 2 stands up reasonably well. Out of the five available games, only Bop It stands out as a clear failure. Considering that the four others are firm family favourites, the package will most probably provide hours of fun in the festive period ahead. Add a decent level of presentation and plenty of repeat value, coupled with the price of actually purchasing all these games for real, and Family Games Night Vol. 2 seems a fairly worthy purchase for those long winter nights in.
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