Game Show Night With THQ

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Three popular game shows are now available for family gaming fun on the DS and Wii courtesy of THQ, so now whether you are at home or on the go you can enjoy the sophisticated trivia of Jeopardy!, the letter and phrase guessing of Wheel of Fortune, and the embarrassment of not knowing elementary school facts in Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?.

Having spent the past few nights testing my game show skills with the Wii versions, I’m happy to say that THQ put in a quality effort in translating the three game shows into waggle-ready video games.

Graphically, the three titles are certainly ‘shovelware quality,’ but in terms of presentation, the theme songs, set designs, menus, graphics, hosts and sound effects are authentic to the respective shows – and that’s really all that matters. Alex Trebek, Pat Sajak, Vanna White and Jeff Foxworthy look so cute and cuddly as Mii avatars, and the real hosts even provide the voices for their in-game counterparts (Trebek doesn’t sound like he got into the gig all that much, but the other hosts let their personalities shine through a bit more).

As games, all three are accurate representations of the real game shows. I imagine anyone reading this already knows the rules of these games, but in case you don’t, let me provide a quick rundown.

In Jeopardy!, you select clues from different categories and correctly answer to earn money, buzzing in with the Wii Remote for the right to answer before two opposing brainiacs. At the end of the game, after a Final Jeopardy round in which contestants gamble their earnings on one final clue, the contestant with the most cash wins the game.

Wheel of Fortune is more a luck-of-the-draw game than a test of knowledge. It has you spinning a roulette wheel of sorts consisting of wedges showing different dollar amounts and other prizes and penalties (like bankruptcy and loss of a turn), and the wedge you land on determines the dollar amount you’ll receive if you can correctly guess letters that belong to blanked-out word clues. As letters fill in, you can attempt to solve the word puzzle at any time on your turn, and whoever solves the puzzle gets to keep the money they banked over the course of the round. The person who amasses the most cash after all of the puzzles then gets a shot at a bonus round clue for a special prize.

Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? is another trivia game, but instead of competing against other contestants to prove how smart you are, it is a trivia game that is mainly meant to make you look foolish for not knowing fundamental educational factoids. You are put through a pop quiz full of questions pulled from grammar school (1st through 5th grades) subjects like History, Geography, Science, Physical Education, Math, Astronomy and so on, and you earn money in set amounts dictated by the grade level of each question. If you answer all of the questions, you win. But if you fail, you have to say aloud “I am not smarter than a 5th grader” and walk away in shame.

The rules are the same for the video game versions of these shows, and the games are as fun to play as they are to watch on the boob tube — only now you can actually participate rather than yelling answers at your TV. Using the Wii Remote as an answer selector / buzzer / wheel spinner works nicely, and it’s great to be able to import your Mii characters into the game and dress them up in unlockable outfits. All three games allow you to have up to 10 profiles saved at once, so the whole family is welcome to play. And there are stat tracking and reward systems that provide an extra sense of accomplishment on top of stroking your ego by showing off your smarts. Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune also support the Wii Speak for guessing letters and answers verbally, but unfortunately I don’t own a Wii Speak and have been unable to test out the voice recognition.

In terms of value, these games are fantastic. Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune are both $30, Jeopardy! packed with 2,400 clues and Wheel of Fortune coming in even higher with over 8,000 word puzzles. Jeopardy! is great too because it actually allows for variable difficulties – on Easy the answers are provided in multiple choice format (which is NOT real Jeopardy!, but makes it easier for younger players), but when you bump it up to Medium or Hard you have to type in the answer from memory like the real show.

At only $20, Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?: Back to School tops the others, if you ask me. It has over 6,000 questions, and it comes with some interesting pop quiz mini-games (matching countries to continents, math equations, sorting coins to make the specified monetary value, etc.) and more multiplayer options, including a two-versus-two Study Buddies mode, a four-player free-for-all Classroom Clash mode, and a head-to-head Super Battle of the Wits mode in which two players answer rapid fire questions against the clock, with correct answers filling a completion meter and activating different power-ups. And if you’re lonely, you can always play these modes by yourself with bots and still have a good time.

Overall, I’m quite pleased with THQ’s game show trio. I was expecting licensed shovelware to be perfectly honest, but these games are far better than that for sure. Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?: Back to School is the most complete game, I would say. So, if you just want the best game show game in terms of content and value, it should be your first choice. However, if you have a particular favorite of the three shows, go with it and I think you’ll be very happy with its Wii adaptation.

Check these games out, and make every night a game show night!

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About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!