Genre: Board Game
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: Electronic Arts
Release Date: March 2009
Who doesn't love a good board game? Certainly It's difficult to find someone whose eyes won't light up at the thought of playing Boggle, Parcheesi or Scrabble. From the youngest children to our venerable elders, there is almost certainly a board game fanatic in every household. Playing those board games can be a bit frustrating, since pieces goes missing, you have to find a good place to set up the board, and you have to get the friends together to have a solid game. It's certainly possible, but probably not very high on most people's agendas for the weekend. Hasbro Family Game Night sets out to rectify this by offering the ease of setup of a video game with seven of Hasbro's most respected (and enjoyable) board games. All one has to do is pick the game out from a list, and all of the setup and frustration is taken care of for you in a matter of moments.
The first game on the list, Battleship, is a schoolroom classic. Players are each given a grid on which to place their "fleet." Each part of the fleet takes up a certain number of slots on the grid, ranging from five for the airship carrier to two for the destroyer. Each miniature ship can be placed horizontally or vertically anywhere on the grid. Once players have placed their fleet, each player takes turns guessing the location of their opponent's ship on the grid. In order to destroy the opponent's ships, the players must "hit" each grid square where the enemy's ships are located. The first one to sink all five of the enemy ships wins. It's a simple but deeply addictive game, especially with the unique gameplay modes offered in Family Game Night. The Salvo rule set means that players will get one shot for each ship they still have on the field, allowing for a much faster game. In Super Weapons mode, each missed shot has a chance to randomly discover a superweapon, which can be used on a subsequent turn and range from powerful bombs that can hit multiple grids at once to the torpedo, which can hit every square in a column.
Scrabble is probably the most challenging game in this collection, but it's also one of the most enjoyable. The game takes place on a large board, and players are given seven game tiles, each with a specific letter on it. The goal is to use the tiles to create words, with longer and more complex words being worth more points. Spelling a common word may only earn you a few points, while spelling something using Qs and Zs can earn you a bonanza of points. Players take turns creating words, with the requirement that each word must use at least one letter already on the board. There are also double and triple word scores scattered across the board, and if you make a word with your tiles on one of these spots, your score for that particular word is, obviously, double or tripled. The winner is whoever has the most points at the end of the game.
Family Game Night Scrabble also has a few other optional, and rather weird, game modes. Bridge Builder not only challenges players to create words, but to create words to make a "bridge" from one end of the board to the other. Whoever does so earns a rather nice dose of extra points. There is also the option to change where the triple and double word scores are located on the board, or to randomly turn some of them into mines! There is a bizarre mini-game where you have to shake the bag with the other game tiles before drawing your next set. If you shake it enough, the tokens may catch on fire, and if you spell a word before the fire goes out, you gain a substantial amount of extra points.
Boggle is a simplified form of Scrabble. Sixteen four-sided dice, each with different letters on each side, are placed in a plastic bubble. You shake the bubble until the dice fall into the 16 slots on the bottom tray. Once the dice have settled, your goal is to make as many words as possible from the letters, either horizontally, vertically or diagonally. You're also not limited to any single direction. Also long as the dice are "touching," you can link them, allowing you to make extremely long words. The longer the word, the more points it is worth, and whoever scores the most points within the time limit wins. Beyond the regular game mode, Family Game Night Boggle also offers a Word Hunt mode, which asks players to find words from a list and an Advanced mode, where the Boggle cube will change after every word scored, and the dice will flip as the timer starts to run down.
Yahtzee is a dice game where players take turns rolling five dice. After each roll, players can choose to hold any of the dice or reroll any of the dice. The goal is to score in one of 13 different categories, ranging from "twos" to "Yahtzee." Each category has a specific score you must make. For example, scoring "two" is the total sum of all the twos you rolled in a single round. Scoring "three of a kind" is the total score of the three dice you rolled that are three of a kind. Thus, the higher possible score for both would be 10 and 18, respectively. The game continues for 13 rounds, and players must "score" in each category once, and once a category has been scored in, it can't be scored in by the same player again. There are even a few game modes that play into this. Block Out prevents anyone from scoring in a category once any of the players have, while Block Out with Stealing does the same, unless the other player gets a higher score, at which point they can steal it. There is even a game of Reverse Yahtzee, where players try to get the lowest possible score, but with the caveat that their opponent, not the player themselves, gets to pick which category the score goes in.
Connect Four is an odd little game, sort of like tic-tac-toe on steroids. The game takes place on an upright-standing seven-by-six grid where players take turns dropping tokens in from the top. Tokens dropped in the top will fall down to the lowest available row. As one could guess from the name, the goal of Connect Four is to match of your colored tokens so that they touch horizontally, vertically or diagonally, without letting your opponent beat you to it. It's a simple, but deeply addictive game. The Advanced game mode adds a bit of Tetris. Instead of the winner being whoever connects first, the game earns you points for connecting four and then removes the connection from the board, encouraging players to set up clever strings and combos for the maximum score. There is also a special Power Chips mode, where players can access to various "Power Chips," which alter how the game is played. For example, a heavy chip instantly destroys all chips below it, while a barrier chip prevents your opponent from placing a chip in that particular column for another turn.
Sorry! is a fairly traditional board game built around the idea of getting your own pieces to safety while knocking other players off the board. All players begin with four like-colored pawns in the Start square and must traverse them all the way around the board to the Home square. Unlike Parcheesi, Sorry! uses cards instead of dice, which adds a bit more strategy into the mix. Of course, things are not quite as simple as they sound. Anytime your pawn leaves the Start box, it becomes vulnerable to other players. If another player lands on the same square as your pawn or uses a Sorry! card, then your pawn is sent back to start. The winner is whoever gets all four of their pawns into the safety of Home first. Sorry! also features the option to play with Bonus Cards, which add some real wild cards into the lineup, such as ones that allow you to steal an opponent's card or a card that allows your pawn to move to the nearest corner, instantly knocking out any and all opponents between you and that corner.
Sorry! Sliders is a combination of Sorry! and shuffleboard. Players take turns sliding their pawns down a track onto a bull's-eye. The closer to the middle of the bull's-eye, the more their pawns are worth. However, each player takes turns doing so, and if you can make your pawn knock the enemy's pawn off a high-ranking score, then they lose those points. Once all four players have slid all four of their pawns, the score is tallied up. Players can then use their score to move a second set of pawns along a board, from Start to Home. The first player to get all four of their second set of pawns to the Home square wins. Sorry! Sliders also features a bizarre video game mode called Battle Boxes, where Mario Kart-like items appear on the slider board. Collect them, and you can give your pawns special properties, like making them heavier or causing an ice trail to appear after they slide.
Hasbro Family Game Night has quite a few advantages over the physical copies of each game, the most obvious being that there is no muss and fuss with setting up or cleaning afterward. Picking up and playing the game is as simple as grabbing a few controllers and getting to work. You can even play people online, which can allow families to play the game together even if they're separated by physical distance, or simply for eager gamers to play some random folks online. Hasbro Family Game Night offers you exactly what it claims to, and people the world over are quite familiar with most of these classic games. If you're looking for a good Xbox 360 game to play with friends or family, or simply a way to satisfy your Battleship itch without the mess, Hasbro Family Game Night will be for you.
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