Pros: A couple of decent mini-games, colorful graphics.
Cons: Not much to it, and what’s there isn’t that interesting.
It’s always fun for a group of people to get together and play something. This is why activities like board games and multiplayer video games are so popular. It’s an excuse for a social activity, and playing with others develops a sense of camaraderie and playful competition that is inherently fun. Which is why a game like Family Game Night 4: The Game Show might be fun to play with friends even though it’s not an especially good game.
Published by: Electronic Arts
Genre: Party Game
For ages: All
Release Date: Nov 1, 2011
Gameplay: Board Game-Based Mini-Games
FGN4 offers players the chance to compete in a variety of mini-games based, sometimes very loosely, on board games. The game’s conceit is that you are playing a game show in which you progress through all the mini-games, winning cards that will affect your score, although you can also play any of the mini-games by itself.
The games are a mixed bag. “Sorry! Sliders” is a decent but unexceptional version of shuffleboard played with giant Sorry! Game pieces. “Scrabble Flash” has players taking turns making the longest possible word out of set of letters. “Bop It! Boptagon” is a decent little QTE game. “Connect 4 Basketball” has players throwing balls into a giant Connect 4 board. In “Yahtzee Bowling” you roll a ball towards bowling-pin style dice.
All of these games rely more on the general fun of playing with other people than on the intrinsic fun of the mini-games themselves. In this regard, Boptagon is the most successful, in that it has a nice frenetic quality to it. The basketball game also has potential, but I never felt the mechanics worked well; I didn’t always understand why my ball didn’t land in the row I was aiming for. The bowling game is a complete waste; there’s no challenge to knocking down the pins, so it’s essentially nothing more than an inconvenient way of rolling dice.
In game show mode, the winner in each mini-game is given a card representing an unknown amount of Monopoly money. Once you’ve played all the games, these cards are fed, tediously, one by one, into a machine that tells you how much each card is worth. Cards are worth various amounts, and I have no idea if this is based on how much you won by in each mini-game or if it’s just random. In either case, it means it is possible to win more mini-games than an opponent and still lose the competition, which is a bit disconcerting.
Verdict: You'll Have More Fun Getting Out Your Scrabble Board
The flashy game show format fails to hide the underwhelming content. The mini-games are uninspired, and all feel slight even by mini-game standards. There is nothing that should make this game a first choice for multiplayer gaming, and its single player mode is worthless, as your virtual opponent’s skills are too perfect to be beat in some games like Boptagon and Connect 4 Basketball.
Can you have fun with this game? Sure; with the right people you can have fun playing anything. But if you have fun playing FGN4, that doesn’t mean it’s a fun game. It just means you have fun friends.