As the Holiday season approaches, a lot of good and bad games start to flood the market and the Wii usually gets the greatest of the crap. But sometimes some games really shine (most come from Nintendo) and Family Game Night 2, while fun, isn’t one of those that the Wii really needs, especially when you can get all five of these great board games for under the $40 price tag of this game. Like in the first version of this game, EA and Hasbro take five classic board games and reinvent them in video game format. So, if you already own all of these games, you will want to skip this title. But, also like the first game, Family Game Night adds new twists and remixes to make these five games a little more interesting.
First up, Connect 4 returns but with a very interesting twist: instead of only having one side of the board, there are two sides. Think of it as putting two normal Connect 4 boards and super gluing them together. This adds another way for you to win. Because of this, there are three kinds of Connect 4 chips: the normal chip is now called the back chip. The front chip looks like the normal chip but with the center taken out. And the block chip is a chip with the “no smoking” symbol in the center of it.
If you don’t know the point of Connect 4, well the title says it all. You need to line up four of your chips in a row vertically, horizontally, or diagonally. Now, as previously stated, you can do this from the front or the back. So, if you have three chips lined up in the back of the board and that gets blocked but you have three lined up in the front and no one catches it, you place your last chip and win. But, in cases like this, the block chip can be used. The block chip is a chip that blocks both the front and the back space. So, if the AI or one of your friends has three lined up in the front and back, it would be wise to use your block chip. Use these wisely, however, as you only have two.
There are three different types of Connect 4 in Family Game Night 2: Original which is played with four players, classic, which is like Original but only played with two players and with only the block chip, and Remix which introduces special powers on the board like detonate and teleport that allows you to get the upper hand on your opponent. This mode also adds a time limit. For all versions, there are three challenge levels (Novice, Smart, and Genius) and four round settings (First to 1, 2, 3, or 4 wins). And the controls are, as expected, really simple. You can use the D-pad to move your chip left or right (or you can move the Wii-mote left or right) and hit the A button to drop the chip. To switch between the three different chips, hit the B button until you see the chip you want to use.
Overall, Connect 4 is pretty fun. With four players it gets kind of hard because you have to watch three other opponents and now you have another side to pay attention to. This forces you to really think about where you want to drop your piece. It’s a really nice twist that makes this game more addicting then the boring original.
Next up, we have Jenga, the game that the Wii was made for. The premise is to carefully take pieces out of the tower and put that piece on top of the tower. Sounds easy right? Well, not really. In the actual game, you have to take your time and have a steady hand. In Family Game Night 2, those rules also apply, but it’s harder to pull out the pieces.
In Jenga, you use the Wii-mote to highlight a block you want to remove. Press the A button to tap the block to see if it is loose. If it is and you want to remove it, press and hold the A button and use the Wii-mote to remove it. A line shows you which direction you are pulling the block. Once the block is pulled out, the piece will be moved to the top of the tower and hover there. Press and hold A to place the block on top. If you pull out a piece and the tower falls, that’s game over. To move around the tower just use the D-pad.
This game is one of the most frustrating out of the five. Once I found a piece that I wanted to remove, I had to really yank the piece out which caused the tower to fall. I tried several times to carefully pull the piece out, but it just wouldn’t budge. This really sucks all the fun out of the game because the whole point is to carefully remove the pieces and keep the tower standing, not yank the piece out as hard as you can and make the tower fall.
The remix version of Jenga adds cards that tell you what you need to do on your turn. For example, remove colored blocks or remove one of each color. There are even bomb blocks you need to remove before they explode. I would have enjoyed both versions of Jenga had the Wii-mote responded better, even better, if it supported WiiMotion Plus. Stick with the actual board game version.
Pictureka is up next and the object is to find pictures that a card tells you to find. There are three different colored cards: blue wants you to find certain pictures while red and green need you to find a certain number of the thing on the card. To know which card you get, a die is rolled with the three different colors on it. If red or green is rolled, another die (a normal six-sided one) is rolled and whatever number appears is the number of pictures you have to find. For example, you rolled the first die and it is red and the red card that is drawn says to find wooden objects. The second die is then rolled and let’s say a six is rolled. So, you have to find six wooden items. That’s all you have to do. And the controls are simple. Use either the D-pad or hold the B button and the Wii-mote to move the cursor and use the A button to select the picture.
There is a time limit and if you select a picture that is not what the card tells you to find, you will lose time. So be careful. I really didn’t have fun playing this game. I found myself getting bored real quickly. And at times, the cards give you a generic description of what you need to find. For example, I had a card tell me to find “light.” Alright, so I found a picture that had a house with a sun. That was right. I then found a rocket that had flames coming out of the bottom. I thought flames were a source of light, well, I thought wrong and it cost me time.
The game that I was looking forward to playing was Operation. I loved playing this game when I was growing up! Of course, the Family Game Night version adds some unneeded stuff that made me detest this game the most out of the five on the disc.
In the board game, all you had to do is pick a piece you wanted to remove and not touch the sides. This is what should have been in disc form but, alas, it is not. Now you have an X-ray machine that comes down revealing the items you need to remove. But the x-ray moves from the top to the bottom and if the item you need to remove is at the top and the x-ray is at the bottom, you can select it until it heads back to the top. Once you can, hit A to select the item. This will take you inside the patient (I think his name is Sam) and to the item to be removed. To remove it, just press and hold the A and B buttons but the kicked here is the items move. I have no idea why. It’s pointless. And if you miss grabbing the item, you hit the patient which makes the patient’s blood pressure rise. Miss enough and the blood pressure will reach its max and you fail.
Once the item is grabbed, you have to guide it through the item-shaped icons with the Wii-mote. This is like the board game as you can’t touch any of the sides. You have to guide it through four of these icons and if you touch any sides, the patient’s blood pressure rises. If you already made his pressure go up by missing grabbing the item, the pressure stays up leaving no room for error. I really had no fun playing this version of Operation. There is a lot of un-needed stuff that just makes the make frustrating. If EA just took the original board game and converted it to digital form, it would have been a blast to play.
The final game (and the most fun) is Bop It. The aim of Bop It is to make the correct gesture after the Bop It calls it out. You are given a practice round to learn these gestures. To bop it just hit the A button. To twist it hold the B button and twist the Wii-mote. To pull it hold the B button and pull the Wii-mote back. And to shout it hold the B button and pull the Wii-mote up. In the remix of Bop It, the new gestures of Box It, Spin It and Shake it are added.
I had a lot of fun playing this game. It made me think and react very quickly and it gets a lot quicker in later rounds. Not only that, but instead of saying the actions, they call out colors. For example, to twist it, the color is yellow. So when it calls out yellow, you have to do the twist it gesture. So when you are doing the practice round, it is recommended to pay attention to what gestures belong to what colors.
In all, Family Game Night 2 offers five good board games for $40. The problem is, if you already own these classic games, there is no need to buy this. If you don’t own these games, I recommend buying the actual board games for they are a lot more fun to play then sitting through a lot of not needed nonsense and using the Wii-mote, which isn’t as responsive as it should have been. Wii MotionPlus should have been supported. I give props to EA and Hasbro in making a game that brings families together, but, like the first Family Game Night, this should have not been a disc based game and only been made available as separate downloadable games on WiiWare for a cheaper price.