Dec. 4, 2008 -- "Hasbro Family Game Night," a new game for the Nintendo Wii, may be just the game for the family facing the technology divide.
It brings favorite board games that the older generation loves to a high-tech platform that the younger generation adores, so playing the games is so easy that both generations will enjoy having a "Game Night" in front of the TV.
From Electronic Arts, "Hasbro Family Game Night" is hosted by Mr. Potato Head and offers families the opportunity to play Boggle, Connect Four, Yahtzee, Battleship and Sorry, as well as something new called Sorry Sliders. In addition to the traditional games, each game has at least one variation.
The compilation also has a special Party Mode that is full of minigames that use the game boards but are totally different from the traditional games.
So is this video game compilation as fun as playing those board games around the kitchen table? Yes, but it's different. Here's the scoop.
Games like Connect Four, Boggle and Yahtzee work well using the Wii remote. It's easy to point and click so that your colored checker drops into the Connect Four rack. Likewise, selecting letters to make words is simple in Boggle, and it is nice that the built-in dictionary lets you know right away whether you have spelled a word correctly.
In Yahtzee, shaking the Wii remote as it vibrates is a remarkably satisfying way to simulate shaking the Yahtzee dice. And the game helps you decide which of the scoring combinations to select while it keeps score for you.
But games like Sorry and Battleship don't fare so well. When playing Sorry, it is helpful to be able to study the board and count out squares before you move, and this virtual game board doesn't provide you the visuals you need.
Likewise, the virtual Battleship game is cumbersome because you have to zoom in to choose the point on the grid that you want to hit, then wait through a repetitive graphic that rotates the board to see a dramatic hit on water, and then rotates back to see if you hit anything.
Where this compilation shines is its fun variations on the classic board games. For example, while playing Connect Four, you can add Power Chips, which include chips that blow up others, ones that block you from playing above them and chips that move an entire column down one space.
The Sorry Sliders game is brand new and makes good use of the Wii remote as you slide game pieces across the Sorry board in a kind of shuffle board-like game.
Also fun is the Party mode, in which you play in a tournament with up to three other friends. After you select the number of rounds of play (10, 20 or 30) and which of the games you want to explore, the tournament begins.
In this mode, there are unique, short mini games based on the six board games, so you might be trying to match patterns on the Connect Four board and sliding Sorry pieces through rows of pawns.
It is fast-paced and creates a madcap vibe.
When considering whether to add this game to your Wii library, here are some of its pluses. You don't have to own and store a variety of board games and then worry about losing game parts.
If you have a child who likes to play games, but can't always find a playmate, this game provides virtual playmates (at different levels of competency) and support from Mr. Potato Head. The game is fun for families who own a Wii and like to explore variations on traditional games.
But if you are a family that really just likes playing the traditional board games, then skip this new tech rendition and just play your games on the kitchen table.
RATING: 3.5 (out of 5)
Best for ages 7-up
From Electronic Arts, www.eagames.com, $39.99, Wii (also available on the PlayStation 2 for $29.99).
Jinny Gudmundsen is the kid-tech columnist for USA Today.com and Gannett News Service, and is also the editor of Computing with Kids (www.ComputingWithKids.com ).