Reviewed: July 2, 2009
Released: March 18, 2009
Hasbro has been the preeminent name in family fun since the 1940's when the Hassenfeld Brothers – then known for school supplies – changed their business model to include toys and action figures. Most famous for classic toys like Mr. Potato Head, GI Joe, and My Little Pony.
As Hasbro continued to gain in popularity, they began acquiring the competition – most notably Parker Brothers and Milton Bradley, both known for successful board game franchises like Monopoly, Sorry, Life, and many more. Hasbro quickly became one of the largest gaming companies in the world – second only to Mattel – and enjoyed many years of success from their diversified brands.
But the world changes, and there is no doubt that the board game industry is floundering in the high tech arena of today. With videogames eating a large portion of the market share, and with popular homebrew versions of Scrabble and Boggle garnering huge attention of social networking sites like Facebook – Hasbro realized the need to enter the 21st century. And now we have Hasbro Family Game Night or the Xbox Live.
The concept of the Hasbro family night is pretty ingenious – offer video versions of the most popular family board games, sell them for at budget prices via the Xbox Live Arcade, and package them all up in an interactive living room themed interface called Family Game Night. As a family that enjoys sitting around a board game every now and then, we were more than happy to take a swing at one of our favorites – the board game Sorry!
These reviews are going to be short, but sweet – simply because these licensed video versions are spot-on recreations of their brick-and-mortar (or is that cardboard-and-plastic) brethren. Really, the only difference there is between virtual reality and reality being the interactive control schemes and the animated motion sequences. The games also feature full support for Xbox Live avatars, as well as the Party system – resulting in a full-fledged online experience.
The game of Sorry is a simple take on the classic Parcheesi (Pachisi), has gamers moving four colored “pawns” around a rectangular track of blocks that lead from the “Start” box to the “Home” box based on numbers printed on cards drawn from a common deck. Where the strategy comes in, is that if a player's move results in his landing on an opponent's pawn, the opponent's pawn must be reset to the “Start” box. Simple, but fun, and with a handful of “Slide” boxes, and “Backwards” cards thrown into the mix – the result is some exceptionally challenging and aggravating gameplay.
This Hasbro Family Game Night version of Sorry takes the traditionally inanimate action of Sorry, and does a pretty good job at spicing things up a bit with a fair bit of animation and flair. While no virtual animation can quite match the rewarding feeling of hand-slamming an opponent's pawn back to the “Start” box in real life, it does do a fairly nice job at delivering a bit of excitement.
The controls are simple and solid, and although there is a bit of handholding with the game highlighting all of the available squares and suggesting possible moves – it is still a fun experience to be had.
Visually, the game looks pretty good. There is an almost cel-shaded appearance to the isometric viewpoint, and with Mr. Potato Head acting as an animated Ring Master the result is engaging. Character avatars are in play, but only in the form of player cards rather than their more lifelike polygonal counterparts from the dashboard.
The sound is actually quite good, with an exciting blend of electronic background music that moves from tried and true electronica to some catchy electronic jazz – it is definitely sets a higher bar than the dreary music from similar Xbox Live titles UNO, Hardwood Hearts, and Hardwood Solitaire. The sound samples for movement of pawns is quite realistic, and the sound effects that accompany the onscreen actions fit the bill perfectly.
While Sorry on the Xbox will never replace Sorry on the kitchen table, the ability to play friends many miles away is a real treat.