Reviewed: July 9, 2009
Released: March 18, 2009
Founded in 1923, Hasbro (then called Hassenfeld Brothers) predominantly made school supplies. In the next few decades they expanded to children's toys including doctor kits and eventually the ever popular Mr. Potato Head. Hasbro was wise enough to know that boys don't play with dolls, and before long I was playing with G.I. Joe action figures (which will likely be coming back to the forefront with this summer's new G.I. Joe movie).
As with most successful companies, at some point they reach a stage when the financial climate is right to start gobbling up competitors and their intellectual property. Which is what happened in 1984 when Hasbro acquired Milton Bradley, makers of Yahtzee and other popular board games. Today Hasbro has a large portfolio of subsidiaries which pretty much command every aisle of toy departments in any big box retail store.
Hasbro has continued to be wildly successful, to the tune of over 3 billion dollars in yearly revenue. They have adapted to new technologies with the changing times, with many of their IP's ported over to video game systems for the current generation and plenty of good product placement in movies like Toy Story.
Yahtzee is one of my favorite board games. I have it on my iPhone, my computer, and now my Xbox 360. It's a great 15-minute game for task and goal oriented people. There are 5 dice in a cup. You shake the cup and let the dice roll out onto the table. The goal is to obtain the highest score from throwing 5 dice 3 times over 13 rounds. In each round, you roll the dice and then score the roll in one of 13 categories. The categories include simple things like rolling 6's or 3 of a kind, but also includes 5 of a kind (which is called Yahtzee). When all your goals, both successful and unsuccessful are completed, you all add up your scores and the highest score wins.
Hasbro Family Game Night on Xbox Live Arcade offers a common apartment game room interface to launch all their games. When you start up HFGN you are greeted with Mr. Potato Head and a Welcome menu, which you can choose from local play, Xbox Live play, or you can look at the leaderboards, achievements, and options. Up to 4 people can play locally or online. Once you pick your game type, you chose your game. Currently, HFGN includes Yahtzee, Boggle, Connect 4, Sorry, Sorry Sliders, Scrabble, and Battleship.
Yahtzee includes 4 game types and several modes. In Original Yahtzee the player with the highest score wins. In Advanced Yahtzee you also get wild dice, which you can change to any number you wish. In Block Out, when you score in a category before your opponent, you block it. You can also play Block Out with Stealing where you can steal a score if your score is higher in that category than your opponent's. You can also play Half Card where you only use the lower portion of the score sheet (avoiding the boring 1's through 6's top half). Reverse mode is original Yahtzee but the player with the lowest score wins, but your opponent places your score in the category of their choice. You can also play custom games where you can combine modes and ways of playing. There are hours of fun here, but unfortunately they didn't include Triple Yahtzee where your scorecard has 3 slots per category.
When you select your game, your host Mr. Potato Head flies off to the apartment game table and sets up the game board. He is somewhat helpful during the game... he never speaks, but he will give certain facial and verbal expressions that sometimes can give you hints that what you just did was significant.
The graphics in Hasbro Family Game Night are clean and fun. You can choose from 5 room themes (Jungle, Girls Room, Secret Agent, Boys Room, and the default Modern). The additional rooms are a free download and take about 30mb of hard drive space for each theme. Each theme has unique graphics and sounds.
Each downloaded room theme has it's own music. The music is fun at first, but quickly gets repetitive and annoying. The same could be said for Mr. Potato Head. His “woohoo” expressions and various sighs can be helpful for gameplay, but usually prove to be an annoyance at best. Thankfully, all of the above can be turned off in the options menu.
There are significant items to win or download in Hasbro Family Game Night. The room themes are available for free to download. The game trophies go in your room trophy case for you to enjoy. Additionally you can win certain furnishings for your apartment like themed pillows and other items. Hasbro Family Game Night offers 70 achievements for 1,400 points. Each game has achievements, which can all be earned over the normal life of playing the games. However some of them are extremely rare occurrences. Achievements such as rolling a Yahtzee (5 dice of the same value) on the first roll are lucky beyond measure.
The individual games in Hasbro Family Game Night are 800 Microsoft Points each. That is a little pricey. These are simple games, which are nice for rainy days when the family is cooped up indoors, but these are not games that people generally will play over and over again. The price should easily be half of what they are charging.
Hasbro Family Game Night is a good family game for rainy days. It is especially good for families with younger kids who wouldn't do well with family games like Scene It. Hasbro once again bridges the gap between generations with Hasbro Family Game Night. If you are a fan of any of these games, it will be a “must purchase”. However, at a steep 800 points each, choose your purchases wisely.