Thursday, December 11, 2008

Family Game Night for Wii: More Fun Than a Barrel of Monkeys*

A few weeks ago my 10-year-old told my husband and I that she wished our family played board games "like all the other families." I tried to explain to her that she had probably just seen that on TV or read about it in a book because in reality most families sat in front of their computers and ignored each other, just like we did.

So imagine my surprise when a few days later a huge box arrived in the mail from EA Games containing the following board games: Sorry, Boggle, Battleship and Connect 4. Also in our surprise package was EA's Family Game Night, which contained Wii versions of all the games. But of course, the Wii game could wait awhile - we were going to sit down and play some board games first, like all those other normal families.

We started with Sorry, which I remembered playing when I was a kid. This game can get pretty heated when you knock someone back to 'start' (hence the name, 'Sorry') and my husband asked us to keep the noise down because he was napping - just like what my dad said when I played the game way back when! Next we moved on to Connect 4, which is like a 3-D, vertical version of tic-tac-toe which I loved because it was simple and went very quickly, which was important - I was really itching to get back to my computer. We skipped playing Battleship since I figured the girls could play it with their dad - I thought it was the least he could do after taking a nap right in the middle of the day.

Lastly we played the word game Boggle, and I'm not shy to say that this is where I really shined. My 'hasten' and 'pliant' beat their 'car' and 'bed' handily, although my 12-year-old did come up with 'fez' during one game which I thought was brilliant. Then the two of them challenged me to the Wii version of Boggle - I guess they got tired of me doing my victory dance around the living room every time I won a game.

Well, this is where the generational difference was really apparent. I was still trying to figure out how to use my Wii controller to select a letter and my girls had already spelled out 'rake' and 'heart' and 'tree.' I finally did get the hang of the controller, but then didn't realize I had to double click when I was done spelling a word and ended up with a 35-letter monstrosity. Score: 0

We all loved Sorry Sliders, the Wii version of the game where you actually use your pieces in a game of shuffleboard to knock your opponents out of the way, and Battleship, Connect 4 and Yahtzee play very much like their board game counterparts. (There is also the traditional version of Sorry, but my girls prefer the board game version of this. Or as they like to call it, the Old Fashioned One.) There are also mini-games that my girls love - these are small competitions that use the same pieces and some of the other elements of the main games, but move at a quicker pace. If you're feeling adventurous you can play other amped-up versions of these games, games with crazy names like Connect 4 Power Chips, Reverse Yahtzee, Boggle Portal Cubes and Battleship Salvo. Think of it as all the games you love, but on steroids.

I would really recommend Family Game Night as a way for parents to get in on the gaming action with their kids - besides the Wii Fit, it's one of the few games that I enjoy playing (and don't completely embarrass myself doing so.) But I would also recommend picking up the board game versions - we have continued to play these together, and the girls have even introduced their friends to these strange, 3-dimensional cardboard and plastic relics. They spent 2 hours recently playing a very loud and rowdy session of Sorry - although it was very disorienting to see them having fun and not lit up by the glow of the TV screen and without a controller in their hands.

Best of all, I'm starting to think that maybe we'll get around to having that family game night after all.

*Barrel of Monkeys isn't a Wii game yet, but I'm sure there's a developer somewhere working on it this very second.
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Robert Shaw III said...

hello i'm having trouble CAN YOU USE USE 2 CONTROLLERS on this game i've looked in in the manel and see nothing

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