|System: Wii, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Bright Light||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Electronic Arts||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 27, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Though the remix modes make things a little more interesting, the classic game modes are kind of hit-or-miss. Operation involves twisting the Wii-mote to rotate the object you're extracting through windows of the same shape. Pictureka! is played with an auto-rolling die that dictates the types of picture category you have to find objects from within a cluster of stylized drawings, with points awarded to faster completions.
In Jenga you highlight which block you want to pull out with the Wii-mote, manipulating and twisting the angle and force of your pulling action with surprisingly good motion controls (though the Jenga tower itself seems to be made of Jell-O). Connect 4x4 is basically Connect 4 with chips on both the front and back of the board, for up to four players. And then there's Bop It!, a physical simon-says-type toy with various motions and actions to perform, dictated by a voice giving you instructions. Whether or not you can actually call Bop It! a board game is highly debatable, and manipulating a digital representation of the thing isn't really fun. Its controls are also pretty suspect.
Aside from some of the game choices in Game Night 2 feeling a little off, the collection also seems to be mostly superfluous, and the games themselves not particularly rewarding. With a physical board game, there's some value in the sheer physicality of manipulating the game pieces along the board; the experience, both in terms of game mechanics and the resulting social interaction, is its own reward. Translated to a digital medium, things feel flat-people engage with interactive mediums differently than physical games, and when you're simply exchanging the real thing for polygonal representations of game pieces (with no added flourish, unlike, say, a Magic: The Gathering or D&D video game) the whole proceedings somehow lose some of their luster. The games in Game Night 2 are made and presented in a competent manner, but it seems like the kind of shorter-attention-span gameplay involved in simply competing for a high score on a screen doesn't have the same kind of intrinsic value as playing a real board game. Needless to say, you (or your kids') attention probably won't be held for very long.
Some parents with kids who really like board games and video games may find some value in this one-the whole package is only $40-but I would wager the number of children that want to play with a virtual Bop It! is probably pretty low. For those few that are gung-ho about their virtual board games may appreciate the high-quality presentation here, but for everyone else, you're not missing really anything by simply dusting off your physical board games. For once, keeping the TV turned off wouldn't be such a bad idea.
CCC Freelance Writer