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Jeopardy!

Rated KA for Kids to Adults

Platform:

Nintendo 64 (N64)

Publisher:

Gametek (Distributed by Take 2)

Developer:

Gametek

Released:

March 1998

ROM Size:

32 megabits

Players:

One to Three Simultaneous

Genre:

Game Show

Save:

None

Optional:

None

 

 

> Final Rating: 3.1 out of 5.0

Introduction

Following in the footsteps of America's top-rated syndicated game show (Wheel of Fortune) comes America's favorite game of answers and questions. Jeopardy!, however, has been much-maligned in the video gaming press. True, it's not as slick or as fun (to most people) as "The Wheel," but I do believe it has gotten a bum rap. This version of Jeopardy! is no worse than any other console version; in fact, it's probably the best version available at this point.

Gameplay & Control

Where Jeopardy! starts to shine through a little bit is in the control and options areas. First off, Jeopardy! does not support the Rumble Pak. Also, for some odd reason, you are forced to use the Control Pad instead of the Control Stick. Those two quirks aside, the N64 version of Jeopardy! has control that's about as good as it can get without a keyboard. The A button is used to buzz-in to answer or is used to select a letter. The Z button can be used to buzz-in to answer, but it also enters your response at the letter entry screen. So it's kind of like a shortcut instead of going down to press the "Enter" key on the virtual keyboard. The L button is used to jump one word back and the R button is used to jump one word ahead. The B button is used to go back one letter. There are also shortcuts for the C group: Top C enters a hyphen, Bottom C enters a comma, Left C enters a period, and Right C enters a space.

 

Jeopardy! contains many options that help elevate the series to a new level. Besides changing the sound effects and music levels and choosing between several different players (along with giving them a name), you can set some options in the game to your liking. Here's what can be changed:

 

 

So how does the video game rendition of Jeopardy! work? Well, first of all, there is a 10-second "lockout" that gives everyone time to read the answer after it is picked. (Remember, in Jeopardy! you are given the answer and must buzz-in with the question.) Nice. After the lockout period ends, there is a period of 15 seconds for someone to buzz-in with the correct response. If someone does that, then they have 60 seconds to type in their response by using the virtual keyboard that's displayed on-screen. If they get it wrong, then the remaining contestants have 5 seconds to buzz-in before moving on.

 

The N64 version of Jeopardy! includes over 4,000 answers directly from the TV show that come from 650 categories. The designers decided to break up the answers and categories into three types: easy, average, and expert. So if you select "Easy Questions Only" in the options, then there will only be a bank of about 1,500 answers and about 215 categories for the computer to randomly choose from. In order to play with all 4,000+ answers and 650 categories, you must select the "Easy, Average, & Expert Questions" mode in the options.

 

Jeopardy! also tried to bring a little innovation to the table by letting you select how responses are entered and showed. Playing with "Computer Assisted Responses" makes the game bring up probable responses as you enter letters into the virtual keyboard. The game will, at times, bring up the correct response maybe after you're only half-way through entering the letters. Then you can quickly press Z to accept that, save time, and be on your merry way. Of course, you will often not see what will probably be the correct response unless you entered the response properly (e.g., putting "Mt." before the name of a mountain) or maybe not even until you nearly enter it all. Still, it's a nice option to have. You can also change it to "Loose Spelling Accepted," but it's definitely not as "loose" as one might think because the questions still have to be phrased properly. There's also an option that makes the game NOT display correct responses. You'll probably see some of these categories over and over, so why reduce the game's replay value a little more by having it show you the correct response if you didn't get it right?

 

And, unfortunately, that's the game's biggest problem: repeating categories. Despite built-in EEPROM chips only adding $1 more to a game's production costs and Controller Pak support being free, Gametek, for some completely stupid reason, made it so Jeopardy!, like Wheel of Fortune, does not save the categories used if you turn the power off. Of course, previous versions of Jeopardy! didn't keep track of the categories, either, but this is 1998 now. The major problem with the lacking of saving is that Jeopardy! has a mere 650 categories while Wheel of Fortune has over 4,000 puzzles. The nature of the two games obviously makes it that way, but I was disappointed to see repeating categories in the few short times I played and turned the power on and off.

Graphics & Sound

Graphically, Jeopardy! is not as nice as the N64 version of Wheel of Fortune. The game does include some full-motion sequences of Alex Trebek, although there doesn't seem to be quite as many clips as Wheel of Fortune. Unfortunately, the contestants in this game also have the look of cardboard cut-outs. There are two problems that Jeopardy! has that Wheel of Fortune didn't have, though. First, the game has a much more grainy look to it. The category board needs to be cleaned up big time. Second, the pans and cuts of Wheel of Fortune are missing in here. When you buzz in, the camera moves in at a very rough single step rather than slowly zooming in. Also, in between questions and such, there aren't any shots around the set. The graphics are bland, through and through.

 

Aurally, Jeopardy! is also a few notches below Wheel of Fortune. While Wheel of Fortune had the different contestants with different voices making comments and yelling out letters, not to mention an involving crowd and a spinning wheel, Jeopardy! is quite lackluster in the sound department. Alex doesn't have very many comments, and the contestants are too quiet. Crowd involvement is also at a minimal. The only thing Jeopardy! has over Wheel of Fortune is when it comes to music—the renditions of the themes are great. The sound effects in here are also quite faithful.

Conclusion

It's not possible for Jeopardy! to match the fun factor of Wheel of Fortune, mainly because it's much more difficult, but it's baffling as to why the game doesn't look, sound, or feel as slick as that aforementioned game. From the bland presentation to the glaring grammatical error on the back of the box ("with it's..." should be "its"), Jeopardy! seems sloppily thrown together and, subsequently, is not as satisfying. Nevertheless, the game is far from a disaster and will probably provide many adult and casual gamers with hours upon hours of fun.

 

Graphics:

2.5

Sound:

2.8

Control:

3.5

Gameplay:

3.4

Lastability

2.6

OVERALL:

3.1

 

DOWN THE ROAD

Although Jeopardy! doesn't have quite the replay value of Wheel of Fortune, I still plan on adding this game to my personal N64 game library once its price falls. It's not impressive in any department, but it does have one redeeming factor over any other version: the ability to play with three players without swapping controllers or huddling over a small keyboard. Hey, Jeopardy! is Jeopardy!, and I would like a Jeopardy! game for my game collection. This just so happens to be the best overall version thus far.

 

Review by: Scott McCall

First Reviewed: May 14, 1998

Appendix Added: June 10, 1998

 

 

 

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