The Wii platform woos non-gamers once again, this time with "Hasbro Family Game Night 2," which takes another crack at moving five games off the tabletop and onto the television screen.
Several popular games — "Operation," "Jenga," "Pictureka!", "Connect 4" and "Bop-It!", along with a creative use of Mr. Potato Head — are juxtaposed with jazzy tunes and appealing backgrounds. The game supports use of the players’ Miis, and it can be fun to see your Mii — you can see its head in the corner of your screen — react to your successes or failures. You can also customize your game room, though you don’t spend much time there — it’s just the background to your selection time of each game.
My 7-year-old daughter seldom plays video games, but I thought since we’ve played a couple of these games before in the tabletop versions, she might get a kick out of them. She grew frustrated with the difficulty level, and lack of responsiveness of the Wiimote, within about five minutes, however.
The game’s cleverest aspect occurs after each game is successfully accomplished. A win unlocks a new Mr. Potato Head piece, and the player is invited to accessorize using the new piece. My daughter enjoyed watching her parents play a game — each usually takes five minutes or less — then ripping the Wiimote out of our hands to try on the new Mr. (or Mrs.) Potato Head trinket. And she wasn’t eager to give us back the controls until we reminded her that we could win more pieces.
The games themselves, while looking great, simply aren’t interesting enough to hold the attention of those old enough to master them. I give the developers credit — they devised lots of clever ways to expand on the possible game play. For instance, scrubbing germs away from the man’s innards in "Operation," or nudging "Jenga" blocks in before they slowly slipped out and the tower toppled. Those examples, by the way, were exactly as tedious as they sounded.
And that’s another problem — these games are very popular in their physical forms for a reason. They’re fairly simple, yet their sheer simplicity and competitive elements engage folks of all ages. There’s a bit of a thrill when one is trying to avoid the buzzer in "Operation," or keep the "Jenga" tower from toppling. In the video game version, while the graphics are eye-pleasing, it’s impossible to translate those tactile pleasures.
What’s left of the games just isn’t fun. My husband and I wouldn’t have played the game as long as we did, except that we wanted to give it a fair shot. But it just never got any more enjoyable, especially in two-player format (which is what a family enjoying game night would most likely be using).
The games I liked the most were the ones in which the innate simplicity was retained — namely, "Bop-It!" and "Pictureka!" There were times, though, when it seemed that I did the exact motion (in "Bop-It!") that was requested, and I lost a turn. "Pictureka" was also not without its quirks. If I were asked to find five items in a category, for example, I could find perhaps one or two, and occasionally a seemingly obvious one was deemed incorrect (since when is a horse not a valid means of transportation?).
For all its good intentions, "Family Game Night 2" just goes to show that these board games are far more entertaining in their original form, played on the kitchen table.
On the Web: www.ea.com/games/hasbro-family-game-night-2