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 is unnecessary, but certainly fun, and surprisingly well done.
Yahtzee is one of those games that most will argue that it can certainly be played for much less than ten bucks. The digital version of the game is much like you remember. If you have never played Yahtzee think of it as poker with dice instead of cards. Essentially you start out with a score card that has a pre-determined number of different hands on it. The goal is to earn one of each hand with the highest score. For instance you need to earn a pair, but obtaining a pair of ones will only net you two points, whereas a pair of sixes is worth twelve.
You only get to keep one of each hand and some are harder to achieve than others, so it is best to know when to keep what you have. Each turn you are given three rolls and you can keep any number of dice from each roll. Most of what you roll in Yahtzee is luck, but there is an underlying strategy involved with knowing which dice to keep, and which hands are the hardest to obtain.
The biggest question on everyone’s mind is truly is this worth picking up for ten bucks when you can certainly grab it at just about any store for roughly the same price, or for that matter even make your own. The answer depends on your preferences, personally having the game keep score while providing Achievements and a visual delight were certainly worth my investment. Of course not everyone will share my sentiments so it is nice that EA and Hasbro have given each game a demo to try out. There really isn’t much you can say about the game of Yahtzee that checking out the trial won’t already tell you, but if you are a big fan and would love to take on friends online, there is simply not a better option.