|System: Wii, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Bright Light||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Electronic Arts||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 27, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
A long time ago, board games were cultural artifacts that were, for all intents and purposes, timeless. They were immovable objects, unchanged even as generations of families would gather around to enjoy a fun evening of personal social interaction and fun. Today, times have changed. Clue has been modernized for a cell phone-and-tabloids status quo, while the visages of Master Chief and Mario adorn special editions of Risk and Monopoly, respectively.
Progress over the past several console generations has also given families the opportunity to plop down in front of the television rather than the kitchen or coffee table to play electronic versions of many of their favorite board games-this is the market EA and Hasbro were after when they threw their lot into the digital board game market with last year's Hasbro Family Game Night. Although the question over whether there is a need to own digital versions of board games you've probably either at one point owned or still do is still a valid one, at least the original Game Night's collection of games, which included favorites like Sorry!, Battleship, and Yahtzee!, was a good value, complete with EA's typically high-end production values. Game Night 2 offers up a crop of (mostly) new board games in the same slick package, but the value of this year's iteration is somewhat lacking, and at times the collection struggles to retain relevance when stacked up against its real-life counterparts.
This is largely because only a couple of the five games included in Game Night 2 are worthwhile in digital form (namely Connect 4x4 and Operation, the latter only being mildly entertaining), while two are odd choices for digital representations (Jenga and Bop It!, which I don't even think can really even qualify as a board game). The last game, Pictureka!, is little more than a picture-hunting exercise which quickly loses its appeal even when playing with friends.
Like the original Game Night, there are also "party" modes in the form of the single-player High Score Challenge and the Mr. Potato-Head-hosted Family Game Show mode which you can play with multiple players. Both modes take varied challenges from the five games, mix them up in random order, and set you to work. High Score Challenge is exactly what it sounds like: score enough points to get multipliers, which can be cashed in between the mode's ten round set. The higher the multipliers, the more points you can get, but at the cost of resetting your multiplier count back to zero. The game show mode is more or less the same idea, only players compete to take the majority of a circular game board by winning challenges. Be the first player to make it to one of the board's quarter marks and you win that zone of the board-win the majority of zones to be the winner of this mode. It's pretty straightforward stuff.
Another holdover from the original Game Night are the remix modes for each game, which basically take the rules of the game and twist them to make for a less traditional and potentially more interesting experience. For instance, Connect 4x4's remix adds specialized slots on the game board that create bombs, reign down a hail of your colored chips, or take an extra turn; Operation adds shooting and pattern-based mini-games to its regular extraction proceedings; you're tasked with taking certain colored blocks out of the titular Jenga tower; Bop It! has extra functions for you to repeat.