Gaming & Technology

'Hasbro Family Game Night 3' freshens up some of its venerable favorites

Hasbro Family Game Night 3 offers video updates of classic board games, including Yahtzee and Clue.
Hasbro Family Game Night 3 offers video updates of classic board games, including Yahtzee and Clue. Courtesy Games Press

It's not the most exciting video game around, but Hasbro Family Game Night 3 does just enough to keep you entertained.

It also provides you with an opportunity to do something as a family. And what more can you ask for, really?

That concept — to play together as a family — is refreshing to see in a video game these days, when so many are geared toward older demographics. In this case, the games offered — Mouse Trap, Twister, Clue, Yahtzee and The Game of Life — are decent enough in their non-virtual form, so it works.

Here's the best thing about Family Game Night 3: It is simple and fun.

It's easy to navigate the menus with the direction pad, and EA Sports has pretty much limited the button-mashing to the "A" button. There's virtually no learning curve, and the animations are good enough to get a chuckle or two from really young gamers (I know of a 3-year-old who at least found them amusing).

The main menu is set with a backdrop of an amusement park. You immediately begin playing the game by way of your Xbox 360's avatar, which walks around the park until you select the game you want to play.

These games play on screen very much like they do in real life. The main difference is that your avatar will ride, run or walk across the board for you, occasionally making funny faces or gestures along the way. In Mouse Trap, you will watch your character build the trap — or get trapped. In Life, avatars will make their way through careers, marriages, parenthood and retirement, just as in the board game.

There also are some mini games along the way. For example, when you get married in Life, there is a ceremony and a small reception, where the bride and groom take center stage. In a system similar to Dance Dance Revolution or Guitar Hero, you must rhythmically match up the buttons with the icons that flash across the top of the screen. That makes your avatar boogie. That's probably more entertaining for kids, but it's one of the things that breathes life into a board game.

Clue is pretty entertaining, and it just might be the most enjoyable of the games.

Also, Life offers a long or short version of the game. Even the short version is pretty time-consuming, and, as with any board game, the length of the game depends largely on how many people are playing and how pokey they are. It will take 30 minutes to complete the short game.

The reality is that your perception of Hasbro Family Game Night 3 is going be formed by how much you like the games themselves. If you don't like the board games, you're not going to like their video game adaptations. But if you enjoy them, there isn't much you won't like.

Of course, if that doesn't appeal to you, it wouldn't be such a bad thing to spend the $40 on the actual board games and really have a family game night, would it?