TV Show King makes us wonder what the difference is between a video game and a regular game. We're aware that they’re judged by different criteria; for instance, no one complains that Monopoly hasn’t updated its look in about fifty years, while the control scheme of Hungry, Hungry Hippos would be lambasted by gamers as mindless button mashing. The only real qualification for making a “game-game” good is the amount of fun you have while playing it. Here at WiiWare World we wouldn’t describe many of our favourite video games as “fun.” They appeal as a challenge or because of their storyline, but they don’t usually make us laugh out loud. TV Show King at least does that.
TV Show King is a trivia game which pits you against three other contestants. Presumably, these are your friends as there’s no reason to play the main game mode with one player (unless you’re the guy who cheats at Trivial Pursuit by reading the cards on his own). The questions are divided into loose categories that don’t make much sense. For example, we're not sure why math is considered a “scholarly” subject but not animal science. Maybe all those wild, suntanned animal experts on Discovery are starting to rankle the mathematicians?
You use your Wiimote to select your answer. Since you can see everyone’s response, players will often end up chasing the person they think knows the answer. This should detract from the game, but it actually makes for some heated play. The questions aren’t particularly clever, but they serve their purpose, and there are a lot of them set on multiple skill levels.
Between rounds, there’s a Wheel of Fortune game that involves using the Wiimote to send the wheel a’turning. You’re basically damned if you do, damned if you don’t, but it’s one of the most fun parts of the game. You can make some completely undeserved bucks or wind up having to donate your earnings to an opponent during this phase. No matter what, the wheel will elicits plenty of whoops, groans, and playful shoving from your friends. Eventually, the two contestants with the lowest scores are bumped off and the top two go head to head for cash and glory. The scoring during this round is pretty goofy. Depending on how poorly you do, you can wind up in last place by the end of it. Now, what kind of motivator is that?
TV Show King is a fun game; but as a video game it has issues. Much of the design feels a little amateurish. The opening cinematic is neat: the game uses eye-catching colours and provides a neat view of the “studio” where you’ll be playing. Unfortunately, the rest of the graphics are off. The host’s motions are jerky and his over-the-top Vanna looks blocky. The two seem alien compared to the Miis playing the game. Graphically, the Miis are the best part. They’re animated in the typically over-enthusiastic way that we’re used to seeing. It’s a hoot to catch Mum, Dad, and Spiderman hanging out in the audience (provided you’ve made them). The sound quality is adequate and there is a solid attempt at voice acting, but the host uses very few phrases so you’ll learn them quickly.
Trying to give TV Show King a score is tough because it’s more enjoyable than it should be. In fact, it’s almost fun in spite of itself. Most of what you’ll enjoy about TV Show King is what your friends bring from outside the game. You get to shout, laugh, and show off to your pals in an easy 10 minute dose. We can't fully recommend it at 1000 Wii points because there’s not much depth to it, but at its core TV Show King is unquestionably good fun.