Game Review: Family Game Night Add-Ons: Jenga, Pictureka, and Connect 4×4 (Xbox LIVE)

Your virtual family board game nights just got bigger with three new add-ons for Hasbro’s Family Game Night for Xbox 360. Test your skills with Jenga, Connect 4×4, and Pictureka. Keep in mind that these are game ADD-ONS, though. You must own a disc copy of Family Game Night or have it downloaded on your 360 for these to work. You can’t just download these titles by themselves and play them. So do the newcomers earn the Mr. Potato Head Spud of Approval? Read on to find out:

Just like the other board games in the series, the add-ons let you play classic mode, a remix mode, and a custom mode where you can edit your own house rules. The remix modes have new gameplay ideas and tweaks, and each challenge also has its own set of new achievements to unlock. Up to four people can play each game, too.

Jenga is probably the weakest of the bunch. Just like the real game, you must remove blocks from a wooden tower and try not to knock the whole thing over. Use the R trigger button to tap a block so it nudges out a bit, then try to pull it out gently with the left analog stick. Even though the controls use mostly analog for more precise movements, it can’t replace the tactile sensation of carefully removing real blocks with your hands and fingers. The remix mode features colored blocks and you must draw cards to take out certain ones. Just watch out for bomb blocks, which you must remove quickly before they explode!

Pictureka has a totally different graphics style than the other games in the series. This board game is relatively new, I think. In this fast-paced, hidden pictures challenge, there are several large cards with various objects on them, and you draw cards to follow the directions on what pictures to find in a time limit. Sometimes you have to spell words or roll the dice to find a certain number of pictures that match a category or classification. Remix mode has more colored card categories, like finding pictures that make a certain sound when you roll over them with your cursor, for instance.

As a kid, Connect 4 was one of my favorite board games (along with Hungry, Hungry Hippos and Scattegories), so the more complex Connect 4×4 is my pick of the bunch of new add-ons. Connect 4×4 adds a new layer to drop chips on the playfield, and chips in the front have a hole in them so you can see what is behind them. And with four colored chips, up to four people can match up four in a row! It’s great for folks who have mastered the original Connect 4. Remix mode has areas on the field that give you more points or lets you move chips if you land on them. And you earn points by making matches of four, so you can connect multiple rows without stopping the game right away.

800 Microsoft Points seems a bit steep for each title to download, but if you’re a HUGE fan of Family Game Night, you’ll find these new titles worth the price anyway, especially Pictureka and Connect 4×4. Reading skill is helpful for the text instructions, but an older player can help out younger gamers just by playing with them. And it’s really best when played by the whole family anyway. Family Game Night is rated E for Everyone.

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