Another EA “Better with Kinect” arrives and unfortunately, that statement doesn’t say much for it. If you haven’t heard about Family Game Night, here’s what it entails:

You may have played these games before, but never like this! Hasbro Family Game Night 4 takes five classic games and re-imagines them just like on the Hasbro Family Game Night TV show. In Yahtzee! Bowling, you won’t just roll dice, you’ll chase number combos by bowling and knocking down pins. In Connect 4, you’ll score four in a row by sinking shots in a basketball hoop. Aim for the bull’s-eye and block your opponents with giant pieces in Sorry! Sliders. Move fast to re-arrange word tiles in Scrabble Flash. Use quick reflexes to own the Bop-It Boptagon. The big winners take home prizes from the Monopoly Crazy Cash Machine.

Overview

Unfortunately, this game lacks content as it only has 5 different types of games, each with a second variation. The controls are very basic and really don’t enhance the experience. I found it easier with the controller but there really is no point to the game. Some of the achievements want you to play it 25 times but I can’t imagine anyone wanting to play it that much as it gets old quickly.

The Menu

In the beginning, the game asks you to start with Kinect or a controller. What I found really annoying is you can’t switch modes easily. You have to completely back out to the dashboard in order to change your game modes. Anyhow, the menu is simple and consists of the following options: Play A Game Show, Options which just adjusts your music/sound effects settings,  Trophies which basically keeps track of your achievements and the games individually; Yahtzee Bowling, Bop It, Scrabble Flash, Connect 4 Basketball and Sorry Sliders. As always, I’ll break down each.

 Play A Game Show

The only difference between playing a game show and playing the games individually is that the game show lets you earn monopoly crazy cash cards by winning the rounds. At the end, whichever team has more cash wins. What I found odd, is it only waits until one team has more money than the other no matter how many cards you have, so you never really know how much monopoly money you won. When playing individual games, you can choose whether to play the regular game mode or a variation of it. I didn’t see any pattern of the order of the games you play, but I’ll break down each.

Yahtzee Bowling

This one has a giant bowling ball that with Kinect you have to do a pushing motion, with the controller you just do an up/down stick motion. The way it is played is there are 5 pins that have dice sides on each. You hit the pins and whatever dice face is up, is what you get. There are 3 rolls, and you can keep or change whatever pins you want. It’s a pretty quirky game as in some of the pins, you can’t tell what you have until it goes to the screen where you can pick what you want. It does have mostly everything in Yahtzee such as 3 of a kind, large straight and of course, Yahtzee, but it only matters what you get against the other person. You don’t tally up anything like regular Yahtzee.

The variation that is included is called Crazy Lane Yahtzee Bowling, which just adds 3 pins before the 5 main pins. These typically help you, but I have no idea how it decides what you get. Overall, it’s an ok game, nothing amazing. Here’s a video of it:

Bop It

Bop it is somewhat like the normal game. You have 5 different things to do as it calls them out such as twisting, kicking, bopping, etc. With the controller, the actions are fine and it works. With Kinect, it’s a different story. It’s not a matter of whether you are doing the motions correctly, it’s a matter of the game not being able to handle the gestures and relate them fast enough. You will find that you character is doing delayed actions and it’s just a big mess.

The variation of it is called Bop It Extreme, which only adds 2 additional items, a crash and a horn. It doesn’t make it any more exciting to be honest. Check out the video, this is the Kinect version of it and you can see when it starts getting fast, it just doesn’t work.

Scrabble Flash

Scrabble Flash is probably one of the better games, but if the other team goes first, you probably won’t win. You get 5 letters and you and your opponent have to mix up the letters to make 3-5 letter words. Kinect works for the most part albeit sometimes its too sensitive, and the controller works fine as well. You just have to slide the letters around using a left/right and up/down gesture. You are timed on each to create a word, but it’s plenty of time where you won’t have a panic attack.

The variation of it is Scrabble Flash 5 letter where you can only create 5 letter words and to go as many rounds as you can. Each round will change the letters so you have a chance, but it is quite difficult as you are timed overall on the game, not with each round and you do find that you don’t have enough time. Here’s a video of the regular Scrabble Flash game:

Connect 4 Basketball

This one has the basic Connect 4 rules, just using basketballs. The Kinect controls work, but they are basic. You don’t really make a shooting gesture, but more of a pushing gesture as some of the other games. Luckily, the tracking is really sensitive so you can pinpoint where you want the ball to go. But again, I didn’t feel Kinect enhanced the experience, I found the controller to be much faster. The goal of it is just to get 4 in a row, either horizontal, diagonal, or vertical.

The variation of it is Connect 4 Speed Shot, which just has a time limit on shooting, it’s not much different because against the computer, you have to go fast anyway. Here’s a video of the Kinect version:

Sorry Sliders

This one has you pushing a giant sorry game piece onto a target area. It did remind me of curling, except without all of the extras. It’s more or less a luck game though, with Kinect and the controller, there’s really no definite way to obtain precise speed. It’s either too fast or barely moving. Each team gets 2 pieces to push, best out of 3 rounds. Fairly simple game.

The variation of it is called Sorry Sliders Sumo, which just adds 3 sumo pieces to the board, but I wouldn’t say it’s more challenging. Here’s a video of it:

Multiplayer

The multiplayer may add a bit more enjoyment to it, as you can have 2 player simultaneous, but that’s really it. It works for what it is, but like I mentioned, the controller version is just better overall.

Conclusion

This is another EA title that is just not impressive. This is just not a great game compared to other games that are available and it’s a very small game compilation. If you absolutely must have this game, I’d keep waiting until it’s in the bargain bin, it’s still too costly even after this many months its been out. What we’ve learned is that EA still doesn’t want to make a full-fledged Kinect title as the past titles haven’t shown us anything. Thankfully EA Sports is a different division and we can hopefully expect more.


This review is based on a retail copy of the Xbox 360 version of Family Game Night 4: The Game Show
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