Monday, December 23, 2019

America's Greatest Game Shows: Wheel of Fortune & Jeopardy! (NSW) Review

It's Christmas Eve's Eve, and SuperPhillip Central has a game that is perfect for families as they get together for the holidays. It's a compilation of two game show video games bundled together in one package: America's Greatest Game Shows: Wheel of Fortune & Jeopardy!, and here is the SPC review.

Two iconic American game shows in one package reviewed by SuperPhillip Central. 
"What are Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy?"

Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! are two classic game shows that have been mainstays in American television for over thirty years. For such iconic game shows that follow a fun, easy-to-follow format, they haven't really translated well to video games, for one reason or another. Ubisoft is the latest publisher to have its teams tackle these two game show icons, and the final package: America's Greatest Game Shows: Wheel of Fortune & Jeopardy!, while enjoyable, lack some essentially features and suffer from some presentation issues to make for a lesser experience than many players may desire.

Of the two game shows, I found myself enjoying Wheel of Fortune more. Now, part of that is because of my personal preference of this particular game show, but another comes from Wheel of Fortune feeling like a fuller, richer experience. Wheel of Fortune offers the glitz and glamour of playing the big game in a studio, but allowing you to do so from the comfort of your TV with you actually interacting with the game instead of just shouting, "No! You should have bought an "A", idiot!" at the screen.

Along with the colorful studio, there are the sights and sounds of Wheel of Fortune--familiar jingles, TV show graphics, and even video clips when a player wins a prize. You also get not-Pat Sajak and not-Vanna White as your respective host and hostess, and the ability to customize some aspects of the game, such as your character, the Wheel of Fortune set, and even not-Pat Sajak and not-Vanna White's attire. That said, with all the numerous presentation touches to provide an authentic representation of Wheel of Fortune, there are some graphical and audio hiccups which, as an avid watcher of Wheel of Fortune, I know don't happen on the actual show. It brings down the look of the game and screams "budget"--if the lackluster graphics didn't do that already.

Hit the Skip button now! Not-Pat Sajak is creeping me the "F" out!
Playing with other players locally is the optimal way to play Wheel of Fortune, as the AI is not the brightest. On even the hardest difficulty of simulated opponent, they will pick the silliest letters for puzzles--letters like "Z", "X", and "J"--the ones that appear the least in typical puzzles. With friends and family, you can opt to all use different Joy-Cons or share the same controller. However, sharing is particularly awkward during "Toss Up Round" puzzles, where a player must buzz in when they think they can solve the puzzle. As you can imagine, the workaround here is not the best, but it still stays fun.

"A Group of Pill Pushers?" (Sorry. That's a deep dive Wheel of Fortune reference.)
While Wheel of Fortune stays true to the presentation of the show and features a studio, Jeopardy! ventures off into blander, more sterile territory. There is no studio to speak of, no characters to customize, and no embodiment of a host, save for a female voice. Though to be fair, her voice is rather soothing. The rules remain the same as ever for Jeopardy!: The player in control of the board selects a category and dollar amount, and then all three contestants get a chance to "answer" the "question" in typical Jeopardy! "answer/question" format.

The smaller Jeopardy! board seen here is the one used for Quick Play matches.
The only catch here--and it's understandable given that I wouldn't want to have to type each and every answer, especially since I'm not the world's foremost authority on how to spell every name and word in history--is that instead of typing out an answer, players just buzz in and choose from one of three possible answers. The possible choices aren't shown until a player has buzzed in, so that makes things a little more challenging. What isn't so challenging is, again, the AI. Many times they'll select an incorrect response, making it even easier to ascertain the correct one from the two remaining choices.

Stat tracking is a rather cool if not superfluous feature of Jeopardy!.
Both Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! support quick play options that lower the amount of rounds with regards to Wheel of Fortune, and decreases the amount of categories and dollar amounts in Jeopardy's case. So, with Wheel of Fortune, instead of the traditional game show's 3 toss-up rounds, 3 normal rounds with one being a prize puzzle, and one final spin of the wheel by not-Pat Sajak for players to take turn guessing letters to solve the last puzzle, plus the bonus round, the game is a quick two round affair and bonus round when Quick Play is chosen. Further, Jeopardy! sports a kids' mode, offering simpler questions great for families.

Additionally, both Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! also have individual leveling systems to them, where the more money you end up with at the conclusion of a round, the more stars you earn. Earn enough stars and you gain new levels, unlocking new content. With Wheel of Fortune, it's things like new character customization parts and articles of clothing, new sets, new prizes to place on the wheel, and new outfits for not-Pat Sajak and not-Vanna White. With Jeopardy!, it's all about new categories to choose from. Wheel of Fortune's selection of customization options is already paltry from the beginning, and the little you unlock as you progress in levels only adds figurative drops of water in the canteen of a man dying from thirst. Still, it's content to unlock for playing the game every now and then.

The amount of parts for customizing your characters are extremely limited
at first and get only marginally better.
Each of the two games come on the same Switch game card, but they're accessed separately, meaning that you need to back out of and close one game from the Switch menu completely to enter the other. Not the most efficient way of switching between games on a system called the Switch, and yes, I definitely see the irony in saying that. Online play is also available for both games separately, but good luck finding anyone to play with unless you set something up with a friend or family member so you're both online searching for a match at the same time.

America's Greatest Game Shows: Wheel of Fortune & Jeopardy! do offer a competent version of these two enduring game shows. They're serviceable enough, accessible enough for beginners, and entertaining enough to give some short bursts of game show goodness here and there. It's just a bit of a disappointment that game shows deemed as "America's Greatest" don't have truly great enough video game representations. Because this package certainly isn't.

[SPC Says: C-]

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