The idea of downloadable games is certainly nothing new. With the ability to deliver content to consumers without them ever having to leave the couch is certainly one of the most exciting advances this generation. EA and Hasbro have teamed up to bring us some of their most classic board games direct to your living room complete with Mr. Potato Head as a guide. Hasbro Family Game Night is a central hub where you can download seven of these titles and play them either locally or on Xbox Live with up to three friends. With everything going digital it was only a matter of time before board games joined in on the fun.
To get started you first have to download the application that runs all of the games. Once this is done you then have access to the entire collection as well as trial versions of each game. Each game runs 800 points (or ten bucks) and can be purchased through either the app or by selecting them in the Marketplace. One of the biggest concerns to this iteration of the game though is that when all is said and done you will have dropped $70 for the entire collection, whereas you can pick up all of the games in disc form for PS2 and Wii for $40. While this is entirely true there are some benefits to choosing the XBLA version.
For starters each game can be purchased separately, so if you only have interest in playing Yahtzee, then you can simply download one title, spend ten bucks and be done with it. The second reason this version stands out is because each game can be played online with up to three friends; the PS2 and Wii versions only support local multi-player. Regardless if you intend to purchase each and every game in this collection it would be wise to consider how much online and Achievements really mean to you before committing to the pricey downloadable version.
One of the coolest parts about Family Game Night is the presentation. All of the games take place in a giant hub area that is designed like a gaming room. You can even customize the room with downloadable skins (all of which at the moment are free). As I mentioned earlier Mr. Potato Head will be your guide, and he animates around the room as you move from game to game. As you progress not only will you be able to unlock a whipping 1400 Achievement Points (200 for each game), you can also earn trophies and even new items to decorate your virtual pimp pad with. All of these are unnecessary, but certainly fun, and surprisingly well done.
The latest edition to the Xbox Live Arcade Hasbro Family Game Night collection is the addictive word-find game Boggle. As with most of the other titles in the Family Game Night compilation this interpretation of the classic board game comes packed with online play, as well as a few new variations on the traditional formula to make it worthy of picking up digitally. If you have been enjoying the collection so far, this new addition is worth checking out for fans of the original game, as well as newcomers to the classic title.
Boggle is played using sixteen dice that have a letter on each side as opposed to a number like regular dice. The catch is that you can use the dice in inventive ways to create words worth varying points. Of course people with a stronger grip on the English language will always have the upper hand, but with the streamlined interface this digital interpretation makes playing the game either alone, or with up to three other players surprisingly enjoyable.
What is new to this version of the game are a new play mode, and of course online capabilities and Achievements. The new mode changes the pace of the game by swapping out letters in the final round, giving players a chance to gain ground in the final moments. The online mode works well enough to satisfy your multiplayer needs when you have no one locally to play with, but the interface can sometimes be a bother when trying to connect to a random game.
If you loved playing Boggle before, this new version for Xbox Live Arcade will likely be to your liking. Ten bucks is a bit steep, but when you consider that you can play online and no clean-up afterwards it is not such a bad deal. Plus the Achievements are fairly easy and the new game mode helps up the stakes when playing against someone who knows far too many college-words. Boggle is a great addition to Family Game Night, so don’t feel guilty about dropping the 800 space bucks on it.