Wheel of Fortune Review
By Jesse Alley |
I think everyone out there is fairly familiar with Wheel of Fortune. It's very similar to HangMan, except you spin a huge colorful wheel (we Americans love spinning wheels, don't we) and win cash and prizes like surfboards, diamond rings, ATVs, and even medieval castles. The computer adaptation of Wheel of Fortune plays exactly like its televised cousin, and you can opt to play against two of your friends or face two AI opponents. In addition to the normal game, you can also play an extended tournament or a solo game where you are allowed a certain number of free spin tiles depending on the length of game you choose. When you land on 'Lose A Turn,' 'Bankrupt,' or choose a letter that's not in the puzzle, you must sacrifice a free spin disc.
There are a variety of different word puzzles ranging from 'Things' to 'Show Biz,' from 'Places' to the ever popular 'Fill In The Blank' where the puzzle contains clues to a particular word. If you guess the word correctly you earn extra money. For example, the puzzle might look like this:
So what's the magic word? That's right, 'FINE.'
Wheel of Fortune features the voice of announcer Charlie O' Donnell and plenty of video of hostess Vanna White ... I guess Pat was a little too busy to show up for the taping of the game because he's no where to be found. Overall the voices are done very well, but the volume occasionally changes during the game making some audio sequences louder than others (or vice-versa depending on which way you look at it).
Graphically, Wheel of Fortune looks beautiful. All of the still graphics are finely polished and the FMV even reflects off of the heavily waxed floor. However, the FMV was a bit jumpy, even on a P450. But the biggest downfall of the computer version is the poor computer AI. For example, in the following puzzle:
My computer opponent asked Vanna for a 'W.' OK ... I've seen people make really stupid letter choices on the television show, so maybe the designers just did a really good job of imitating nervous contestants from middle America. But there were other problems with the AI that were simply wrong. In the following 'Fill In The Blank' puzzle:
? LAKE CITY
? AND PEPPER
My computer opponent guessed the puzzle correctly and got a chance to win more money by guessing the missing word. She (I say she because it was a feminine voice) guessed 'SALT.' Sounds right to me, but Vanna nixed her and instead said the answer was 'SPICE.' Oh yeah ... I'm sure we've all visited the lovely Spice Lake City and, boy oh boy, do I like going to the beach a soaking in some of that Spice Water? Obviously, the AI is a little wonky on this puzzle.
With over 2000 puzzles, Wheel of Fortune does promise a lot of variety. But, in the end, it's only going to offer lasting fun to hardcore fans of the gameshow ... you know, the ones with lots of piercings and tats of Vanna on their butts.
-- Tal Blevins