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. As of this writing only four of the seven games are available: Yahtzee, Battleship, Connect Four and Scrabble. By the end of it all there will be seven games total including Sorry, Boggle and the brand new Sorry Sliders. 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.
If there is one game in this monster collection that is nearly impossible to review it has to be Connect Four. This timeless game is probably one of the simplest ideas known to man, and extremely addictive, but when you slap a $10 price tag on a digital version of something you can play with pencil and paper, things get sticky. Connect Four employs the traditional tic-tac-toe style of game play by awarding the first player smart enough to line up four of the same color chips the victory. For the digital version the only thing missing is the feeling of sliding the chips into the plastic slots manually.
The developers have done a nice job of recreating the look and feel, but there just really isn’t much here to digest. If you have ever played the original game, that is pretty much what you are given here with the addition of online and Achievements of course. There are also a few new additions to the formula including power-ups and a timed mode, but they serve little purpose outside of a distraction.
Connect Four is a solid game, but not quite worth the investment when you can pick up a real set for less. The new additions are neat the first time you check them out, and more of an afterthought with each successive playthrough. It is nearly impossible to recommend this game simply because of the steep price. However, if you love Connect Four and are tired of picking up the pieces afterwards this will certainly do the trick. Regardless of your preference it is also impossible to deny the addictiveness of this simplistic game of logic.