We challenge you to find a well-adjusted family that doesn't lean towards board games and the like when it comes round to the festive time of the year. For children it's a joy, for those growing up it's a pain that, despite their best efforts to the contrary, they generally like, and for parents... we'll let you know when we get there.
No matter which side of the love/hate coin you land on, however, EA have decided to make it all that little bit easier by putting a selection of family favourites on a Wii disc. Bonus for those with a disdain for the game time - now you can just look at the TV rather than watch everybody else having fun while your mind slowly erodes. As the game's title suggests, EA have made full use of their Hasbro licence, including six of their most popular games, with the package hosted by none other than Mr. Potato Head. Thankfully he doesn't speak, and if he really offends you can always switch him off. The usual amount of EA polish tips out of the game on the presentation front; it's really only got pretty basic visuals, but everything is so smooth, shiny and user friendly that we can't help but like its looks. We'd say Mr. Potato Head never looked so good, but y'know...Toy Story.
The games that are on offer, then? Yahtzee, Boggle, Sorry, Sorry Sliders, Connect 4 and the almighty Battleships. Of these we're not massive fans of Yahtzee or Sorry - they're both pretty boring at the best of times, particularly the latter, and, though they're well implemented, they're even more uninteresting on screen somehow. The lack of actually rolling dice probably doesn't help. The other four, though, are successful in their transitions and, shockingly, all manage to integrate Wii controls reasonably without feeling silly. Word finding game Boggle has you using the Wii remote pointer to click your letters, ending words with a swift double click. Sorry Sliders has you sliding your pieces across the board to try and get the points you need to get all your pieces home (it's not terribly accurate, but it didn't get frustrating and got the job done; flicking a remote sadly doesn't have the same feel as sliding little pieces of plastic around a board), while Connect 4 uses it merely to point where you want to slot your next coin. Battleships is our favourite - you click on the board to select where to bomb your opponent next, but the best bit is when you're setting up at the start. Your opponent is asked to close their eyes so you can place your ships in privacy, but if you suspect that they're peeping all you need to do is point the remote away from the screen and the board will close itself until you point back to obscure your actions from the dirty cheater. There are also multiple gameplay modes for each game aside just the original games.
It's nice touches like this that lift our opinion of Hasbro Family Game Night considerably. It's a fun enough collection of games, but then you've got a bunch of extras chucked in as well. Each player can access a room that they can decorate with items, such as cushions and lamps, they unlock throughout play - completely pointless, but something that will distract youngsters for a few minutes at least. As well as furniture you also gain trophies; EA have basically put achievements in for random things like 'hit a Battleship on your first turn'. We're not sure if anybody would want to sit and unlock everything, but it does give an incentive for playing on in the short term. We like being congratulated. In addition there's a Party mode that allows you to select as many of the games as you like. Hasbro Family Game Night then mixes these all about and gives you a variety of mini games and puzzles based around the games that you select. For example, if you choose Connect 4 and Boggle you'll get a mixture of games such as 'find the highest scoring word' and 'find the Connect 4' in quick fire segments. It works much better than it might sound on paper and is a great way to get more play out of the games included.
As a whole, Hasbro Family Game Night is another quality entry into EA's casual Wii title portfolio, but we do have some niggling issues with it. Firstly, the instructions included for each game can be incredibly vague - we can't imagine anybody understanding Yahtzee from reading the rules supplied alone. Considering it's supposed to be a family friendly effort it's disappointing that this front was skimped on. Secondly, the game selection is underwhelming. What's there is fine, but there are surely more that could have been included. We're biased because of the dislike of Sorry and Yahtzee, but why would you include games like this and miss out Hasbro classics such as Chutes & Ladders? We're frankly amazed, and slightly appalled, that Operation didn't make it into the collection with Trauma Centre-style forceps controls (click A+B together to grab) and dirty big angry buzzer noises bursting out of the remotes when it all goes belly up. We can see why things like Monopoly, Scrabble and Cluedo couldn't be included due to everything being played out on a TV screen, leaving no room for secrets, but to leave these out is a travesty.
All the games work well, though we disagree with some of the choices. Battleships is king.
Bright and clean, they do the job they're meant to without being stunning.
The music strangely includes tracks from The Sims games. We don't know why, but it's inoffensive.
It's a budget price title, and for that you get decent versions of six board games.
We're annoyed by the blatant oversight of the inclusion some incredibly obvious games, but as an overall package Hasbro Family Game Night is one of the better party collections on Wii. It does everything it's supposed to, offers a multitude of modes for each separate game and has an interesting take on a party mode - everybody's bound to find some variety they like in there somewhere.