Family Games Review

It could be argued that a sheet of notebook paper and a pencil is all a kid needs to create a little fun when there is not anything else to do. I no doubt I wasted more study time in school playing ‘hangman’ and ‘tic-tac-toe’ then I’d care to admit. That being said, I wonder how many of today’s young people have, if ever, played some of these classic pen and paper games. Electronic portable devices, as much as I love them, can stifle the appreciation for such core game concepts. Developer “Icon Games Entertainment” has created a collection of these pen and paper “staples” (pun intended) to bridge the generational and technological gap with ‘Family Games – Pen & Paper Edition.’

Before I elaborate further, let’s take a look at what comprises this eclectic game collection. The games include: Squares (Dots), Nine Men’s Morris (Mill), Safe Cracker, Matchsticks, Noughts & Crosses (Tic-Tac-Toe), 4 In-A-Row (Connect Four), BattleFleet (BattleShip), and Hangman. Those familiar theses games in their traditional form may notice that this selection of games covers the gamet of old school hits.

So why replicate such primitive games in video game form? While it would be easy to say these games don’t belong in this medium, I think we would be glossing over some great benefits from this evolution such as:

  • All the included games are multiplayer so it’s a good family game as the title implies.
  • Which is easier, gathering family around the television and game console or the kitchen table with paper and number 2 pencils?
  • ‘Rock, Paper, Scissors’ with visual aids. It’s like a game before a game!
  • The enforcement of rules. How many times have you played ‘BattleShip’ only to have your opponent move his or her ship mid game? You can’t do that here!
  • In ‘Hangman’ the developers have already decided how many body parts complete the poor sap’s noose. I could have used that as a kid when playing my sister. (You shouldn’t ever have more body parts than you have letters in the alphabet Christy!)
  • Save the environment. No trees were harmed by making the paper and pencils!
  • Two words, ‘Match sticks’. You might not want to give your kids matches to set this game up.
  • Some of these games will stretch your mind. That’s always good.
  • ‘BattleFleet’ isn’t a pain to setup and you know some of those pegs will get stuck in the carpet. Plus, doesn’t that game cost $15 from Milton Bradley?
  • If you don’t have anyone to play with you can play against the computer.

I have a few complaints such as in ‘Hangman’, the letters that have already been used need to lined out or removed. Such as it is, they only lighten just slightly making it hard to differentiate from those not yet tried. Regardless, the graphics are whimsical and clean throughout. The pencil and paper theme, though seen before in other titles, is charming and appropriate. There are a lot of fun victory and defeat animations and there are even achievements in the form of popcaps to unlock as well. Above all of that though, ‘Family Games’ for WiiWare delivers on fun. My wife, who is not not a gamer, has been found playing these games on her own free will since my review process began. She’s particularly fond of “Match Sticks”.

No doubt about it, “Family Games – Pen & Paper Edition” is a must buy for families with a Wii. At only $5 on WiiWare, it should fit into almost anybody’s entertainment budget to boot.

Family Games – Pen & Paper Edition
Developer: Icon Games Entertainment
Platform: PlayStation 3, PSP, Wii (Reviewed)
Rating: Everyone

About Michael "Tebroc" Corbett

According to Mike's memory banks, his first experience with video games happened in 1981 on his brother Jim's Atari VCS - CX2600. (Mike is unsure of whether or not it was a Sunnyvale Edition.) Asteroids and Defender were his favorite games. Fast-forward 20 some years and he has gone on to save the princess but not any money. He never learned to read but now writes articles using speech-to-text technology. Awesome.