Hasbro Family Game Night Vol. 2

Nintendo have been marketing the Wii as a family console since release, managing to include everyone from toddlers to housewives to people who remember the Second World War, with a wide variety of brightly-coloured, casual, easy to learn, multiplayer games. _Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games_ made an entertaining use of man’s basic ability to flail his arms about, _Mariokart_ brought out the worst of competitive streaks in anyone who ever picked up one of those white plastic wheels, and _Super Smash Bros. Brawl_ levelled the playing field by totally removing any need for skill. The very title of _Hasbro Family Game Night Vol. 2_ promises to follow a similar recipe of clever use of the remote and casual competition (yet with no unfair skill advantage).

However, instead of modelling itself on the star-studded titles above, _Hasbro Family Game Night Vol. 2_ chooses to follow the example of the current Royal Mail – in other words, it completely fails to deliver.

Nintendo makes its money with inclusive gaming, but after forcing myself to try out everything the game had to offer and failing to find anything I would have considered returning to, it became more and more obvious to me that this was a game that had somehow been designed with no target audience in mind. Young children are excluded by the written instructions as to how the play each of the games and the overall lack of any real eye-catching imagery or characters (besides the ever-present, and yet ever-silent, Mr. Potato Head), and yet adults too are excluded by the mind-numbing simplicity involved in – for example – twisting the Wii Remote five degrees to fit an object through a hole that is twice the size anyway.

Avid fans of Operation, Jenga etc. will be disappointed too. _Hasbro Family Game Night Vol. 2_ is supposed to represent a typical family collection of popular games for playing together, but – perhaps in an effort to be creative and break the mould – instead of simply transferring the tried-and-tested, well-known versions of these games into Wii format, Hasbro have carefully removed that one particular aspect of each game which makes it fun. Connect 4 cannot be played head-to-head in a quick and competitive match of wits, because the game provides you with as many computer-controlled opponents as you need to make a foursome. Jenga helpfully builds the tower for you, which in principle seems like a good idea but in reality just reminds you that virtual fun is here called virtual for a reason, and the gentle float of the bricks to the surface when you ‘topple’ the tower is no replacement for the real feeling of destroying a solid object and scattering the pieces everywhere. Operation, too, has had its fundamental core surgically removed – the patient’s nose flashes red when you somehow (and it is far more difficult to fail at this version of the game than it is to fail at the physical version, or at anything really) manage to do something wrong, but he only reaches critical after you’ve repeated your error several times.

Of each of the five games included, Bop-It is probably the one with the most potential. You are allowed to have just two players, without the need for computer-controlled intervention, and with such facets as the steady increase in necessary speed and the various different commands to remember, this is the one game that actually involves some intellectual input.
However, not too many seconds in, you inevitably remember that the real Bop-It toy doesn’t require you to pretend to pull or twist a trigger, and that waving a remote about in front of a screen should only be done when there is an excuse, i.e. when there is a particularly intuitive interactive experience going on. And this is true about all of the games in the collection; the fact is that the real-life versions are ten times more fun than the virtual, as much as we might groan when they are brought out on Christmas day.

In conclusion, then, _Hasbro Family Game Night Vol. 2_ seems as if it would fail to appeal to any age range or any standard of gamer; it lacks character, design, or anything which takes the game beyond being just a collection of misrepresented board games besides a customisable Mr Potato Head (which can also be bought in shops, an advisable option over actually buying this game). Finally, there is absolutely no reason why this game ought to be sold on Wii instead of being brought out on PC and sold for under a fiver; it involves no more intuitive usage of the controller than do basic introductory games like _Wii Play_. In fact, buy Wii Play instead – it lets you race a cow and comes with a Remote.


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