There have been times in my life that I can be best described as “forgetful” and “undependable,” though, thankfully, those times are few and far between instances. A recent example of my shortcomings was my promise to review an Xbox 360 game for @eaplay that I received in December 2011. As I type these words, at the promising start of April 2012, that promise remained unfulfilled.
The game in question is Family Game Night 4: The Game Show. I did play through the game, exploring all the mini-games contained therein, and set the game aside whilst I reflected on what I’d like to say for a review. I would not suggest that the Muse has finally taken ahold of my shoulder and said, “Hey, bro, how’s that review coming along?” It’s more akin to being given a good dusting of Forgetful Dust from the Forgetful Fairy sometime in January, which has only now lost its potency.
So here we are.
Family Game Night 4: The Game Show is a collection of mini-games set within a broader game environment. You are a contestant (and can play with others or against computer opponents) playing to win a virtual version of the Hub Network television game show of the same name. Some of the games you play include: Scrabble Flash, in which you attempt to form as many words from a set amount of Scrabble tiles as possible; Connect 4 Basketball, in which you must aim your basketballs carefully to form a row of four balls or to prevent your opponent from doing the same; Yahtzee Bowling, wherein the pins are the dice that you must knock over with your bowling ball; Sorry! Sliders, a shuffleboard-style (or curling) game in which you must attempt to slide your pawns into the highest possible scoring areas; and Bop-It Boptagon, which is essentially a hand-eye coordination and reaction game.
I found the various games to be a mixed bag in terms of “fun,” which arguably is the best metric to judge a video game based on a television show based on board games. I enjoyed the Scrabble Flash and Yahtzee Bowling, and found I could play these two games multiple times while still maintaining a sufficient level of “fun” gameplay. Connect 4 Basketball could be challenging once you started shooting simultaneously with your opponent, but the Sorry! Sliders became dull very quickly as the gameplay did not seem to alter much from game to game. Finally, Bop-It Boptagon was an experience that I did not repeat twice, and the memories of my abject failure are too painful to translate into the written word.
Mr. Potato-Head is the host of the game, and though he is not annoying like the bizarre host of the Family Feud Xbox game (the memory of whom has scarred me for life), he also doesn’t add anything to the gameplay. The animations of the avatars are a bit silly, and not dismissed immediately with a button-click, which makes them a little irritating. The play-by-play voice was a constant, “go get ’em, tiger” kind of happy, which lost its charm over time. Note to developers: if you want to see how a host can be engaging, perhaps even annoying, and yet bring you back for more, check out the You Don’t Know Jack series of games.
A quick note: although the game features Kinect compatibility, as I am one of the last Xbox 360 owners in North America without a Kinect accessory, I did not test it with anything besides a standard wireless controller.
Overall I would still recommend this game to anyone with either a passion for board or family gaming. It has its shortcomings, but they are not fatal, and there’s enough that’s right about Family Game Night 4: The Game Show to override that which is deficient. Give this game some playtime when you have a hankering for some simple, clean, and non-violent fun!