Chad Mosher
Games, Jeopardy, Opinion, Pictures, Review, Video, Wheel of Fortune
Detailed Review: New “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy” Xbox 360 / PS3 Video Games Worth Your Time and Money Thumbnail

Detailed Review: New “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy” Xbox 360 / PS3 Video Games Worth Your Time and Money

This week, well-known video game publisher THQ released “second editions,” so to speak, of the two most well-known game show franchises in America, Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. I say “second editions” because in November 2010, THQ released these games for the Nintendo Wii and these new releases are based on those models. However, if you dismiss these automatically thinking they’re just ports, you’re very mistaken. Updates are present on many different parts of these games, making it worth a second look to purchase even if you own the Wii versions. If you want a review in one word, mine would be “yes.” You should pick these games up. (Keep reading to also find out how you can get a copy of these games just for being a BuzzerBlog reader.)

THQ provided me versions of the games for PlayStation 3, so that’s what I will be describing here, but I cannot imagine the 360 versions being very different. If you’ve played the Wii versions of these games, immediately on start-up you’ll notice a difference. Wii doesn’t offer high-definition graphics so while nice, the graphics there weren’t the best. The graphics, especially the sets for Wheel of Fortune, are very, very beautiful. The menus are completely different from the original games, allowing you to maneuver around the set to choose your options and view your accomplishments, rather than a boring list-by-list menu screen. You’ll want to create your own character first, choosing from the base options provided to you. Pat, Vanna and Alex along with the contestants still suffer from “big head syndrome,” but it’s not as bad as the Miis that were used. They actually resemble their real-life counterparts this time around. Xbox 360 avatar support is apparently included, from other people I’ve spoken to. However, one oddity is that the local and online start game menus are located in the same area, and there is no option that I found to change your player name from your PSN username/GamerTag. So when I played locally with someone else, player one was “chadmosher(0)” and player two was “chadmosher(1).” It’s stranger for Jeopardy! where your name is visible a lot on the podium.

As far as game content and relevance to the actual show, Jeopardy! is Jeopardy! which is not a bad thing, but it has a lot less frills than Wheel of Fortune. When you start a new episode, you’ll be greeted with the intro sequence and graphics from the current season of Jeopardy! and the last season of Wheel, which gets you in the mindset right away. Alex or Pat and Vanna come out, say something quirky and the game is ready to go. Both games have material from the writers of the programs and, in Jeopardy!‘s case, much of the material comes from actual episodes of the program, adding to the authenticity. Wheel‘s material is very well organized. Many of the toss-ups, just like the real show, will correspond to the theme weeks. “Slot Machines” came up as Things on the Las Vegas set and “Playing Pranks” started off a game on the Halloween set. Prize Puzzles are always properly corresponding, so you’ll never be sent on a trip to Alaska for solving “Hanging Out on the Beach.”

Accuracy continues to be very good on Wheel, using most of last season’s wheel layout with this season’s round configuration. Round one is Jackpot, round two is Mystery, round three is the Prize Puzzle and you’ll always be interrupted a few spins into round four with the Speed-Up. One of the interesting quirks that shouldn’t detract from your enjoyment includes that, while landing on the Jackpot adds $500 to the bank, it adds $500 per letter as opposed to the flat fee. All of the audio and voiceovers are accurate in the game but Wheel especially suffers a little bit from the slightly disjointed speech that was present in the Wii game. Instead of recording a thousand different ways to tell you about the R’s in the puzzle, they choose to use fill-in-the-blank audio throughout. You’ll hear him say something like “Yes, there’s…two! Of those in the puzzle.” or “There’s gotta be some… Ts.” It’s goofy to be sure, but I’ll take that over no speech like have been present in some games. Jeopardy! features full clue readings from Alex, along with appearances from the entire Clue Crew, making it a whole feel of the show. If you want to prolong either game, you can enable commercial break minigames to gain “audience support” along the way. These are just creative twists on solving small puzzles or attempting clues.

Jeopardy! has a lot of good things going for it. You can either choose, depending on your difficulty level, to play multiple-choice or use the autofill feature, where after entering a certain number of letters, the game will start giving you suggestions to help speed up the “typing” and guessing processes. They’re not always accurate, though, so don’t try to be cute when you play and make sure you pick the most accurate one. I picked the “Swift” option instead of “Swift, Jonathan” on the list and was ruled incorrect. Another disappointing thing that wasn’t “fixed” from the Wii game is the lack of a Jeopardy!-style lockout system. On the real show, if you try to ring in before the clue is finished being read, you’re locked out for a portion of a second giving the advantage to your opponents. That is not present here. Once the timer goes up, or even before then, players can smash their buttons wildly with no concern for repercussion. My final gripe here is Final Jeopardy! – it’s multiple choice. It’s to allow people to secretly answer at the same time, but it also takes some of the fun away when you can work to reason out an answer from the ones provided. Granted, the multiple choice options are usually good and there’s rarely an “obvious” answer out of the four, but a lucky guess is more impressive when it’s not chosen from options.

A big plus for both of these games I alluded to earlier is online play. I played a couple of Wheel games online and the servers were great, controls were responsive and everything stayed smooth and fluid. This adds tons of replayability to the games, allowing yourself a challenge whenever you’re tired of pummeling the computer players on “easy.” The games advertise themselves as having 2,400 new puzzles and 3,300 new clues, along with the option to buy more in the future via downloadable content. The biggest replayability factor is the ability to purchase unlockables with game winnings. With Jeopardy! you can buy clothes and concept art but Wheel lets you also buy intro videos from a previous season of the show along with brand new sets to play on. The attention to detail on these sets is absolutely outstanding. Some of them come from real weeks, like Las Vegas and Happy Holidays, while others are unique creations based on real weeks, like Cruise Week. They based that as if you were playing on the deck of a ship, including in-ground swimming pool and hot tub on stage. Pat and Vanna will have appropriate things to say for each set, along with being dressed to match the occasion.

Overall, these games are incredibly fun and would make great gifts – or personal purchases – for any game show fan. If I was to hand out letter grades, Wheel of Fortune would get an A-. Very true to the show with a lot of fun and different features to keep players happy. Jeopardy!, while also fun, would have to be a B. The lack of proper lockout and forced multiple choice in the end take away from what would otherwise be another stellar grade. It’s clear that these are not simply ports from the Wii version, like what could have been done. Time and care was taken to make them even better for the different systems. Wheel is a definite buy in my opinion, while Jeopardy! gets a “wait a little bit” from me. The games are available for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 (Wii U is available next month) and retail for $29.99, available wherever video games are sold or, also a neat addition, the full versions are also available for download on the PSN Store or the Xbox Live Marketplace. Check out the trailers released for each game below.

And, as promised, here’s a tease for our BuzzerBlog faithful. Next week, courtesy of THQ you can have multiple chances to get these games for yourself by using your puzzle-solving skills. More information will be coming very soon, so keep close tabs here on your favorite source for game show news and reviews. Feel free to comment below and let us know what you think about these games! If you have any questions that you’d like addressed, go for it and I will do my best to help out as well.

Chad Mosher

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30 responses to "Detailed Review: New “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy” Xbox 360 / PS3 Video Games Worth Your Time and Money"

  • GSNFan says:

    They’re actually advertising this on GSN. I saw the Jeopardy! One today. It’s a good move on their part

  • Adam S. says:

    Saw the Wheel one in GameStop the other day and almost picked it up. I’m definitely going to keep my eyes peeled for the contest!

  • Jim says:

    I’m pretty excited for this but I’m planning on holding out for the Wii U version. Unless I win a copy of course.

  • Andrew L. says:

    The rule about $500 per letter on the Jackpot has existed since Season 24 (2006-07).

  • Andrew L. Budny says:

    This looks pretty good, alot better than the Wii versions. I wan’t to get Jeopardy but just as long as they dont include multiple choice questions and stuck with the player entering the answers like they did on previous incarnations for the original Playstation and Playstation, I’ll definately buy it.

  • ScottNotSteve says:

    I have both WOF and J! for Wii and enjoyed both very much. Got Xbox last holiday and there hae not been many game show titles and WWTBAM was dreadful. So I hope to win one here or it will make a great stocking stuffer!

  • Donald says:

    What about the adding up of totals for the Wheel game? When I played it on the wii, every single time I get to the bonus round, the grand total doesnt add up to what was previousl won. It seemed like a randomized amount of cash and prizes totaled.
    And what’s the deal with the red, yellow and blue podiums in J!? Looks like they did it again. :-/

  • bmhedgehog says:

    Its about time that Game Shows get their online playablity. Now if we can get Family Feud and PYL (and a few others) to go online I’d be tickled pink.

    I’ll try to hold out to win a copy, even though I don’t have a PS3 I’d be willing to trade it in for a 360 copy, unless some divine intervention allows me to obtain a PS3 system (though I highly doubt).

  • Ben Mason says:

    I heard rumors that jeopardy had a bunch of different stages on the ps3 and xbox 360. Is that true and what are those stages?

  • J.C. says:

    I seem to remember the thing with the buzzing in when the timer shows up has been with J! games since the beginning (at the very least, I remember it being on one of the SNES versions).

    • Chad Mosher says:

      It’s been in a few of them, but the PS2 version in 2003 enabled the lockout, which added to the lot of fun it was and makes it stand out in my mind.

      • Andrew L. Budny says:

        Plus the lockout makes it feel more like the show. Unlike the first season of the Trebek run and Art Flemming’s versions in which contestants were allowed to ring in anytime when the clue is read.

        Why they didn’t consider this, I haven’t got a clue.

  • Woodie B. says:

    I purchased both of these games at GameStop and do not regret my purchases. The XBox 360 versions are fantastic. If I would make one recommendation to XBox owners, get a Chatpad (normally used for IM’ing or Twitter) for each wireless controller you have. Although it doesn’t specify on its packaging that it’s compatible, it works seamlessly with the games.

    For the first time playing both, I won $75,750 on ‘WOF’, including a $10,000 Mystery Wedge, getting both ’1/2 Car’ plates (to a $10,000 Car?), and $40,000 in the Bonus Round. I made it a runaway on ‘Jeopardy!’, winning $18,500 for my first win (despite missing the Final J! clue–costing me $1,500).

    As for the buzzing in issue, I didn’t see any problem with ringing in, except that you have to press the ‘A’ button at least twice (and fast), as soon as the timer bar shows up on screen. I ended up with $10,000 going into Double J!, and $20,000 going into Final J! (getting two of three Daily Doubles).

  • fastam says:

    overall a fun game , just bought this weekend but – only updates person on controller 1 even if controller 2 wins – even when both have profiles signed in – (we do not use xbox live). I find this frustrating – having to constantly sign-in and out so we can switch controllers so that each of our players is updated. Please do not tell me to get xbox live – the game should work correctly without it.

  • fastam says:

    that was wheel of fortune I was speaking about.

  • Grant says:

    How is it that you didn’t discuss the obvious miss here in integrating Kinect or at least headsets and voice recognition for these games. In the Kinect case this is like the one time I actually do want to shout out at my tv to have it do something, like I’ll take a “c”. These games may be fun, but I’m really disappointed that they didn’t step into voice recognition for them.

  • Brendan says:

    Does anybody (author or reader) know if Jeopardy! is compatible with the Buzz! buzzers for PS3? Though, I guess if you need a controller to enter answers, that’s less useful. I have a Bluetooth keyboard, hoping I could use a combination of the two.

  • OX_Bigly says:

    On the back of the Jeopardy box (360) it says you can use your avatar but I can’t find any option to do that.

    Anyone have any ideas?

  • michele says:

    I got this so to play as family game. It states in the instructions how to add player 2 and 3 in the lobby. but it will not let me do that. Do you need one contoller per player even though the play is not contemporaneous?

  • matta2k says:

    I’d love a good trivia game for the XBOX 360, but I’d especially love Jeopardy because way too many trivia games are overloaded with pop culture questions and other way too easy material. Jeopardy is still the gold standard for serious trivia hounds. Unfortunately, many versions of Jeopardy are multiple choice based, and that’s not how the game is played.

    It sounds like this new version is better than some because you can “type” in the answers (er, questions) but Final Jeopardy is not? Even when you’re playing alone, against the computer, or online where nobody can read your responses? A pity. (When playing local co op, couldn’t the game have instructed every player to write down their responses on actual paper before entering their responses into the game, thereby ensuring players wouldn’t cheat?)

    Also, the XBOX 360 version should really support Kinect. The voice recognition capabilities of Kinect are perfect for Jeopardy. Imagine: you can buzz in on your controller and SPEAK your answers (er, questions), exactly like you’d do on the show. Kinect and Jeopardy were made for each other.

  • ChrisRobs says:

    Are you able to play with friends from your friends list?

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