Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Hasbro Family Game Night

Hasbro Family Game Night

Spring 2009 Video Games
Ages: 4 & Up
Producer: Electronic Arts
Price: $39.99
Gaming System: Nintendo Wii
Ever since videogame publishers have been cranking out games, they've been trying to remake traditional board games into electronic versions-though sometimes the results have been less than electrifying.Now it's Wii's turn.

Included in this fun and family-friendly collection of classic Hasbro board games are Yahtzee, Connect Four, Battleship, Boggle, Sorry! Not a bad line-up if it translates. And it does-for the most part. Mr. Potato Head as game host is cute enough, especially since he doesn't have much to say and mostly just celebrates (an occasional "hoo-hoo" trains-whistle sound) when you do well and looks sad when you don't. The trophies, furniture and other accessories for customizing the main-menu room that players can earn by winning aren't overly distractive and little kids might actually enjoy it. But the games are what this game is all about.

Yahtzee comes on strong, with automatic scorekeeping and even highlighted strategy suggestions if you want them. Now and then the pointer hits the wrong choice just as you click the "A" button-and that cost me a game against my youngest son! Darn it! But shaking that Wii motion-sensitive controller like a dice cup and throwing the dice is pretty cool!

Connect Four is a natural for the Wii screen and the controller works well moving your colored chips where you want them to drop to form four in a row. We couldn't stop playing Boggle it was so much fun-though some of the possible words the game came up with at the end of each game were definitely from another planet. But Boggle is all about shaping words out of scrambled letters and that's a worthwhile game. You might learn, as I did, that your kids have a better vocabulary than you thought.

And Battleship is even better than on a tabletop version because it automatically rotates the game to see if you had a hit or a miss on an opponent's ships and those little explosions when you did are worth waiting for!

Sorry, but the game Sorry! here is a bit handcuffed by its logistics of moving around the virtual board without having a full view of the steps ahead. New variations on these classics is another option that pays off here: Connect Four Power Chips with explosive chips and Sorry! Sliders, a cross between Sorry and shuffleboard, and Reverse Yahtzee. The game is built for kids' parties, too. It can be programmed for game, number of players and the rounds to be played.

Kids and adults who love these board games will probably enjoy these videogame versions and so will just competitive players. It might even prove compelling enough to draw the family together for a few rounds of some spirited play-and you don't even have to pull the old board-game box out of the closet or go looking for unused Yahtzee score sheets.

Don Oldenburg   ©2009 Parents' Choice
A former feature writer and consumer columnist at The Washington Post for 22 years, Don Oldenburg is the Director of Publications and Editor of the National Italian American Foundation, in Washington, D.C. He regularly reviews books for USA Today and is the coauthor of "The Washington DC-Baltimore Dog Lovers Companion" (Avalon Travel). The proud father of three sons, he lives with his journalist-author wife, Ann Oldenburg, in McLean, VA.

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Electronic Arts
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