Review: TV Show King 2 (WiiWare)

A significant improvement over a trivial predecessor.

One of the very first Wiiware titles at launch gets a much-needed sequel in TV Show King 2. The original was a decent trivia vehicle that we thought was okay, if somewhat overpriced for what it offered. There was so much room for improvement that we were glad this got a second chance. But is TV Show King the Second a worthy heir to its father’s throne?

The original TV Show King released along with Wiiware back in May of 2008. We were unimpressed and branded it “amateurish” and criticized its graphics and jerky frame rate. But one of our biggest problems with the game was that it is simply not much fun to play a trivia game by yourself. As a result, online play is absolutely essential to ones enjoyment of a game like TV Show King as online play is becoming the norm for multiplayer games today.

It would seem Gameloft agreed, and the sequel now features fully integrated online play. All of the game modes and features available in single player and local multiplayer are available online both with friends as well as in random matches. The inclusion of this feature alone renders the first game obsolete. Connection speeds were fast and we observed no lag between the time we selected an answer and the time it showed up onscreen. The only downside is that, as with most Wiiware online games, finding a random match to join is, well, random and players cannot expect to find a game every time they log in. As a result, friend based online play is your best bet. To that end, TV Show King 2 gets things right by making it easy for you to exchange friend codes by displaying your own friend code on the same screen that you enter your friends’ friend codes.

An additional online feature is the ability to write your own questions and submit them for others to download onto their Wiis. As if the increase from 3,000 to 8,000 questions included with the game was not enough, players now have access to a seemingly infinite supply of questions. There are some limitations, however. You may only download 50 questions at a time, the selection is random, and you must manually delete them and replace them with a new download when you’re ready for more. The problem with this is that it is unclear which questions are the user generated ones and which ones came with the game. There is nothing to distinguish them, and so you won’t necessarily know when you’ve used up all of your user-generated questions.

The game claims that when you upload a question it is submitted for “review”. We presume this means that questions are vetted for accuracy, bias, legal liability such as Trademark and Libel issues, as well as for rude language and profanity. However, the logical part of our collective brains tells us that there is no way that anyone is devoting that much time and energy to a downloadable game that sells to a niche population for 800 Wii points. So we tested this so-called vetting system by submitting a question that praised Midnight Bowling for its realistic bowling mechanics, contained libelous accusations against the mothers of the developers at Gameloft, and also happened to be full of exaggerated, over the top profanities which we will not repeat here. Unfortunately, there is no way to know if our question made it through the system. But if you should happen to spot such a question in the wild, feel free to let us know in the comments section.

Fortunately, the user generated comments feature can be turned off, thus eliminating any concern regarding the quality of such questions. Additional options included the usual audio selections, as well as the option to turn off the wheel spinning mini game.

The wheel spinning mini game played in between each round of questions turns this trivia game into something of a Wheel of Fortune or Press Your Luck style game by including random chance in the game. Requiring none of the skill required to play trivia, this feature allows weaker players to have a chance to catch up with stronger players and keeps the outcome of the game in doubt up to the end. Strong trivia players may turn up their noses at it and wish to turn it off. But everyone else will likely appreciate this feature as a way to keep things exciting, especially when not everyone playing has the same level of skill at trivia games.

The graphics appear to be the same as last time around. We were perhaps a bit hard on the previous game, as the graphics look pretty good for the average Wiiware game. We also didn’t notice any jerky motion as reported in the first game, although the hosts voice is still out of sync with his mouth. He also has an odd habit of telling his female co host to “tell” us what everyone’s score is even though she does not appear to have any recorded dialog.

One of the features we liked best about the first TV Show King was the Mii integration. Although much talked about when the Wii was introduced, games that make full and meaningful use of Miis have been few and far between. And so we still get a kick out of seeing Miis not only playing the game, but populating the audience as well. That feature is back in this sequel and we’re glad to see it.

Players can use the same Mii from game to game and keep track of their stats as well as unlock Xbox style “achievements” as they play. Some of the achievements are straightforward and will happen automatically from playing. Others, such as the achievement that can only be earned by your opponent missing every question seem to require the complicity of a friend. Still, as an added bonus they encourage repeat play, and dovetail nicely into the usual unlockable bonuses, which are mainly unique podiums to stand behind.

Conclusion

There’s so much more that could be said about TV Show King 2 than what we have room for. The game has been improved and expanded across the board. Additional expansions upon the original formula that we didn’t even touch on include more question categories, new mini games to help shake things up in between trivia questions, and even more game modes of play (although you’ll likely just spend most of your time in “classic” mode). And all of it delivered at a cheaper price point, too.

TV Show King 2 takes a skin and bones first entry and nurses it back to health to make for a far more satisfying trivia game that successfully replaces its predecessor. Although not quite perfected yet, there’s not much left to improve. A long lasting and satisfying trivia experience for experienced players and an accessible entry point for those new to the genre awaits those willing to give this series a second chance.