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Wheel of Fortune

Genre: Game Show Developer: Imagetec Publisher: GameTek Players: 1-3 Released: 1992

Wheel Of Fortune always comes on at seven p.m. in my neck of the woods, and for the most part I find it very simple to play along with the TV show. So GameTek could not possibly screw this game up big time, could it? Its numerous and fairly good releases for the NES had my expectations up a little bit, and I always remember playing this game with my mom, so lets give the wheel a spin and see if we can land on the jackpot space.

Nowadays, most viewers don’t ever hear, let alone remember the famous jingle that plays when you first turn the game on, but this version plays it perfectly. It doesn’t repeat the entire song the whole game like American Gladiators does, however, and it plays it only at the beginning and the end of the game! Okay, you get the basic options screen that lets you choose how many players, how many computer players, names, avatars, etc. Nothing to complain about on that front. Now lets move on to the actual gameplay.

Really, I only take issue with the difficulty level. If you play it on anything except for easy and make even one mistake, you will sometimes not get control back at all. That’s annoying, and another thing that is irritating but not really the fault of the developer is the ability to change the puzzle. There should have been an option to turn that off to add realism. However, there is a great deal of fun to be had here if you just know where to look, and over time one can become very skilled at word puzzles from a game like this.

There are a bunch of different puzzles that are not very vague or boring. You wont find many inane phrases as puzzles, and they certainly are not all very easy. Some of them are very difficult, and there is certainly a good variety to them. If you have played the original one for NES, you will recall that there were a lot of repetitive puzzles and it was easy to just sweep the game. You are more likely to find “Clydesdale Horses” than “Bedroom Set” or something stupid like that.

The graphics in Wheel of Fortune are actually pretty decent, with the puzzle board and players actually being digitized. However, just like with the rest of the game there is some good graphics and some graphics that are bad. The wheel is the main attraction of this program, and you would think that it would be graphically stunning, or at least acceptable. Leave it to GameTek to let us down again, as the wheel in this game is a pseudo 3D attempt that leaves the player wanting more. I mean, even on the original NES game they gave you an entire wheel view with crude numbers and colors on it. It couldn’t have been very difficult to make a decent full screen wheel with at least semi-accurate sound effects, but what we got was a half-hearted board game like wheel with irritating sound.

They at least could have had accurate sounds, colors or numbers, preferably all of them, but this is another one of those cases where the multi-platform games are basically the same all the way across the board, so if you go running off to the so-called “Deluxe Edition” or the SNES version, all you will find is that the prize descriptions and presentation is a bit different, but other than that, its pretty much the same game on both sides of the board. And there is no Pat Sajak! But as fans of both the show and the video games know, a Pat Sajak sighting is very rare, if nonexistent in all of the ten or so games of Wheel of Fortune there are. Also, take a look at the cover of the box if you get a chance. Notice anything? Vanna White isn’t looking at the camera!

That’s not to say that there is not any fun to this game. I mean, it is still Wheel of Fortune, Vanna White is still here, they have digitized voices, players and the good ol’ puzzle board, so the negatives don’t quite outweigh the positives, but this is a highly forgettable game made by a highly forgettable company. This isn’t quite bottom of the barrel stuff here, but for better Wheel fun, play along with the show or get the later versions for the multitude of consoles that it was made for. It just sucks that such little effort had to be put forth to a game that had the potential to be very fun. It isn’t the worst game show game I have played for the Genesis, but it could have been so much better than it was.

SCORE: 4 out of 10

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