Hasbro Family Game Night 3 Review
After the mediocre showing of the first Game Night on XBLA, Hasbro’s virtual board game collections lost all appeal to me. The fact that subsequent releases were not backwards compatible with the Game Night HUB was also disappointing, making transparent that EA and Hasbro were in it for the quick cash rather than the long haul.
While this still holds true, there’s no denying that Game Night 3 is a considerably more well-rounded package than previous entries. You may be wondering how games like Clue and Twister translate to a controller-based game, and the answer is quite simple: they don’t. EA has “re-imagined” some of these games to better fit the video game formula, and for better or worse, it actually kind of works.
Starting with Clue, up to four players enter the mansion where a murder has been committed. As traditional Clue play dictates, players much present the police with a murder suspect, a weapon, and the room in which the crime was carried out in order to win. Each player only gets one shot at this, however, so accusations can’t be thrown around lightly. Players role dice and navigate around the board, talking to suspects in order to fill out their evidence card, which automatically updates as individuals, rooms, or items are ruled out. You best trust who you are playing with, however, as any time you need to refer back to your evidence card everyone in the room must shut their eyes. There isn’t a way around it, but it is annoying nonetheless.
As players roam around the mansion they can choose to collect rumor points - a new addition to play. When their rumor meter is maxed out, it offers the player a chance to validate their assumptions without risk of being eliminated. Sometimes rumor points are gifted by landing on a particular space, and other times they are awarded through simple minigames. Small additions such as this make Clue the most rewarding Hasbro title by far, offering up true competition and strategy where others fall flat. This only holds true when playing with friends, though, as the AI seems to prefer pacing back and forth in an empty hallway to any tangible form of participation.
Twister would have made a great Kinect offering, yet the developers instead opted for a Parappa the Rapper-style rhythm game. You will get to choose from six songs spanning three music genres (pop, funk, and disco), then take to the dance floor by hitting a sequence of buttons based off your memory. While this may prove challenging for some, the string of six or so presses offers no real progression in difficulty, and as such isn’t worth revisiting once you’ve given it an initial go.
Mouse Trap is almost a direct translation of the board game, and while the presentation itself is fun, it lacks any real competitive edge. The bulk of the game is essentially a co-op endeavor, up until the very end when the mouse trap is completed. At that point in time, the luck of the die decides who will fall victim to the trap you built in tandem. It’s a fun enough distraction - especially with your avatar adorned with cute little mouse ears - but again, offers little incentive to play repeatedly.
While Twister and Mouse Trap are short on replayability, at least they work. This isn’t the case with Yahtzee! Hands Down. The game looks like a Uno mutation rather than the traditional die-based game, and even after reading the How To directions a dozen times, I still have no idea how it is played. I don’t even think the AI knew what they were doing either, which is not surprising considering how utterly brain-dead it is across all modes. If you were hoping to find some sort of enjoyment from Family Game Night 3 in single-player form, you will be left extremely frustrated.
EA attempts to derive longevity from each of their offerings with the addition of a remix mode, but a slight variation of rules does little to bolster play if the game is already anemic. The universal option for quick play is appreciated, however, especially in the longer games like Clue or The Game of Life. Quick play will sometimes change the rules, too. Quick mode In The Game of Life ends after players take five turns each, and tallies up their total worth, rather than simply awarding victory to whoever retires first.
Family Game Night 3 is a mixed bundle of fun party games and underdeveloped duds, and one should never rely on the AI for a good time. That being said, the uppity sound design and vibrant presentation make the overall experience engaging, and results in a good, budget alternative for when titles like Scene It? and Monopoly have grown stale.
[Reviewed on Xbox 360]