Picture this: A fire blazes in the fireplace. Turkey roasts in the oven. Cookies litter the coffee table. Sports fans watch football on television, while parents and grandparents reminiscence about old times. But eventually, TV becomes boring and the talk peters out. Inevitably, family and friends want other things to do and that's where a good game comes into play.
In the past, families would unbox a board game for entertainment. But in the 21st century, there's a more high-tech approach to fun. The consoles in the living room can be a source of family fun that everyone can agree on. Recently, I've gotten a ton of products geared toward gatherings. Although many of them are derivative and bland, a few stand out.
Here's a roundup of some of my favorite party games for the holidays.
"Rayman Raving Rabbids: TV Party": Ubisoft's third entry into the Rayman Raving Rabbid puts the series back on track. The Wii spinoff hit had a misstep in its first sequel, but with "Rayman Raving Rabbids: TV Party," the franchise again hits its stride.
Featuring minigames for the Wii Balance Board, "TV Party" offers some hilarious diversions as players navigate several channels and pick spoofs of TV programs. The shows themselves are minigames that will make you feel silly.
In one instance, you'll pretend to ride a motorcycle using the Wii nunchuk, remote and balance board. In another, you'll be using your butt to ride a wildebeest. This is one of those games that children will easily get into, but older players will have to swallow their pride and not mind embarrassing themselves to enjoy. (Wii, $49.99)
Hasbro Family Game Night: Well, the title says it all, doesn't it? Electronic Arts' casual game for the Wii features six classic board games — "Connect 4," "Battleship," "Yahtzee," "Boggle," "Sorry!" and "Sorry! Sliders."
By putting some of these board games on a console, you're bound to run into some advantages and mishaps. For example, playing "Boggle" with a Wii remote is nowhere near as efficient as with a pad and pencil. On the other hand, keeping score is easier when the computer does it for you. Each game also has a set of prizes that you can win for your virtual Game Room.
But the best feature of all is the cleanup. With no actual pieces, players won't be losing tokens, plastic ships or dice. That will keep parents and children happy. (Wii, $39.99)
"Scene It: Box Office Smash": The sequel to last year's movie trivia game for the Xbox 360 returns with updated questions and a few fixes that make the game more enjoyable.
This time around, the developers streamlined some question types and toned down some of the more annoying features such as the obnoxious announcer. Thankfully, the rest was left the same.
The game features four rounds in which players answer trivia questions about stars and movies. Each round has a clip — the signature element of the series — and players have to answer questions based on that.
To make "Box Office Smash" simple to play, Microsoft created a set of four buzz-in controllers. If you're among movie buffs, this is the perfect game to keep the crowd busy. (Xbox 360, $59.99)
"Lips": If your company is more musically inclined, Microsoft's "Lips" is a good alternative. The music title features 40 songs to rock out to, but what makes the game more than just another karaoke title is its special set of microphones.
Aside from lighting up like the Fourth of July, they're also motion sensitive, which is important when it comes to the gameplay. "Lips" features a points boost that's activated by waving your controller in certain gestures.
The motion-sensing also helps you build up that point boost even if you're not a great singer, which should entice even those who don't have the best voices to the game. (Xbox 360, $69.99)
"Rock Band 2": Lastly, if you're among gamers, Harmonix's music title is probably the best way to spend a few good hours.
The music-rhythm gameplay hasn't drastically changed from the previous game, but with more than 500 songs available, you can probably find one or two tunes that someone is going to want to play.
Playing together almost feels like you're making music. (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, $189.99 for the bundle)