Wii Game Review: Hasbro Family Game Night 3

Over Thanksgiving my wife’s sister and her family visited, with kids in their early 20’s, nearly a decade older than ours. Yet when the eight of us sat around the kitchen table playing Apples to Apples, all differences disappeared and we had an absolute blast. So when we went to visit them for Christmas, I brought along the Wii version of Hasbro Family Game Night 3 to see if we could have a similar night of fun.

The Hype:
Hasbro Family Game Night 3 is a classic board game compilation for Wii that allows players both new and an experienced with the original versions of the games included to discover their fun and addictive appeal for the first time, or all over again. The compilation includes new interpretations of classic board game favorites from different sub-genres, including: The Game of Life, Clue, Twister, Mouse Trap and Yahtzee Hands Down. Additional features include: a variety of gameplay mechanics, including interactive gameboards; an in-game theme park environment that houses separate areas for each game, as well as regions in-between; full Mii integration throughout the game; four-player support; and the return of Mr. Potato Head who takes on the new role of Park Guide in-game.

The Reality:

Before getting to the specifics of Hasbro Family Game Night 3, let me return to Apples to Apples. My brother (with his two kids) and parents were converging on my sister’s house (with her two kids) and he was looking for something to do so they didn’t end up all scattered and playing video games. I suggested Apples to Apples, which he bought & brought … and had fantastic results. Again, everyone around a table with direct interpersonal contact.

The reason I labor that point is the main draw of a board game is not just the game itself, but the fun of playing together! And THAT, in a nutshell, is the inherent problem with Hasbro Family Game Night 3 – in the end it just makes you wish you had played the actual board games!

Hasbro Family Game Night 3 consists of five different games: Life, Clue, Twister, Yahtzee Hands Down, and Mousetrap.

The ‘Game of Life’ board game takes you from birth to retirement with choices and events all along the way in a competitive race to ‘win’ over other players. In Hasbro Family Game Night 3 Life is pretty much identical, just somewhat slower paced. It is a solid game that translates pretty well to the Wii and ‘play on TV’ experience, and was everyone’s favorite of the bunch.

This was the first game we played, and we found ourselves laughing AT the game a little. Why? Think about the board game – you are making observations that you keep to yourself in order to outwit your opponents. In this game you are exploring the mansion as usual, entering rooms where you can ‘interview’ guests – but everyone can see what is happening.

Occasionally the game tells you to ‘look away’, but that really doesn’t work well in such an interactive, eyes-front game. Specifically, you can make a ‘suggestion’, and find out how you are doing, but when everyone is facing the TV it is sort of a joke to ‘look away’. Also, you get to explore hints and roll for bonuses, but since everyone sees the puzzle hint you uncover, it isn’t much more than a race for the pool room.

You might be thinking “how do you translate a game that is all about physical proximity and laughing hysterically as you fall all over each other to a Wii game”? Simple – you don’t. Instead, you turn it into a mediocre DDR (Dance Dance Revolution) / music game genre clone that doesn’t match up to the WORST games in the genre! I have no idea who thought this was a good idea … it wasn’t. Easily the least favorite game of the collection – it sent us off to play Just Dance 2 some more!

Yahtzee Hands Down
Since my family loves those little $5 card games you can grab at Target for a long trip, we already knew this game. Unlike the original Yahtzee, in this one you are collecting dice cards and ‘re-rolling’ by discarding and picking up new cards. But like most of those simplified card games, they are best played in an airport, a campsite, or at the beach. They can be fun for a short stint around the table, but even less so as a console game.

Similar to Life, this board game is faithfully recreated for the Wii. Similar to Clue, it is terribly ill-suited to a socially oriented video game adaptation. The thing about Mousetrap (aside form the Veggie Tales quote: You roll your dice, you move your mice … nobody gets hurt) is that half the fun is building the game! Now that happens auto-magically through a mini-game where you get awarded in numbers of pieces added to the game.

You move around as usual by ‘rolling’ dice, and when you get near the end you can move players to try to put them under the trap, or if they are already there you can turn the crank. The problem? The game is over very quickly since you don’t build anything, and because I never saw the trap fail! In the real game you can land on the cheese wheel and end up being safe due to random luck. Not here – this was another ‘one and done’.

The promise of Hasbro Family Game Night 3 is tremendous: pay less than half of what you’d pay for the board games and get the full experience plus more! Unfortunately … the delivery is not nearly as good. There are two main reasons I see – the suitability of the games and the social experience.

In terms of suitability, Twister in particular stands out – whatever game that was we played, it was NOT Twister! In what seems to be a branding choice, they used the Twister name for a DDR clone. The other games – Mousetrap in particular – don’t compare favorably to the board games they emulate. For Mousetrap it is the lack of physical connection to the trap elements.

But for all of these games there is a diminished socialization. That was why I spent so much time discussing board games at the start – they have the ability to pull you out of the connected, screen-time world for a little while and have you sitting face to face. As much as I love video games, the social interaction is very different, and for this type of game it is clearly a diminished social experience.

There was discussion about whether this would be better for younger kids. Perhaps to an extent, but a game like Mousetrap (or Twister, or Clue … oh well!) is much better played with the full physical experience. So my advice would be top skip this game and grab these classic Hasbro boards games … as BOARD games! Then enjoy an awesome family game night of your own!

Here is the trailer for Hasbro Family Game Night 3:

Review: Hasbro Family Game Night 3

Where to Buy: Amazon.com

Price: $39.99

What I Like: Faithful reproductions of the classic board games.

What Needs Improvement: Most games were ill-suited for a video game; And Twister is just terrible; Social interaction diminished from actual board game.

Source: Review copy provided by publisher

Categories: Gaming, Reviews

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5 replies

  1. Wii Game Review: Hasbro Family Game Night 3 | Gear Diary: You might be thinking “how do you translate a game tha… http://bit.ly/eWXgeb

  2. Wii Game Review: Hasbro Family Game Night 3 | Gear Diary: You might be thinking “how do you translate a game tha… http://bit.ly/gPitIn

  3. Wii Game Review: Hasbro Family Game Night 3 | Gear Diary http://bit.ly/eA4nqY

  4. As a board game inventor since 2000, I have often wrestled with this very question of technology vs. old-fashioned live, in person party games.

    It’s interesting how many people have asked me to create online or computer games. My reaction has always been a resounding NO! It defeats the entire purpose. The reason I am so addicted to creating and playing party games is because the experience I seek involves live human interaction. And the last thing I want to do when I’m relaxing and socializing is look at a screen.

    So reading your post about the Hasbro Game Night 3, I can’t help but think I’ve been vindicated.

    Meanwhile, I have taken the idea of using technology and old-fashioned games and done something much more creative and useful than Hasbro ever thought to do. I’ve kept the live part, but I’ve figured out how to deliver the games using technology, but without everyone having to be glued to a screen.

    Our solution is the website http://www.MonkeyLoungeGames.com. We just launched it after two years in development. In a nutshell, our site offers unlimited access to hundreds of on-demand party games for $3 a month. So there is the value: lots of choices, customizable, instant, and inexpensive.

    Here are the website features.

    * Hundreds of games
    * Thousands of cards
    * A simple scoring system so lots of different games can be played together
    * Customizable
    * Get your games in minutes

    The way you get your games is to download PDFs with the game cards, or (coming soon), get the cards on your iPhone or iPad. After all, you only need the cards to enjoy a good party game.

    Anyway, I hope you appreciate that there is some one out there thinking along the same lines and trying to solve the inherent incompatability of technology and playing with other human beings in person.