As the tagline on the game’s case suggests, the ever popular Jeopardy! very well might be “America’s favorite quiz show”. Countless incarnations of the television program have swept across game consoles from the NES to the current generation of platforms, finally landing squarely on Wii U. After years and years of trying to perfect the formula and accurately recapture the feel of the TV mainstay, THQ may finally have gotten it right.
For those unfamiliar with how Jeopardy! is played, the quiz show features three contestants who are given clues in an assortment of categories with different monetary values attributed to them by enigmatic host Alex Trebek. The contestants must identify what the clues are referring to, buzz in before anybody else and deliver their answer in the form of a question. The contestant with the most money by the end of the game wins. It’s phenomenally straightforward, so it's no wonder that the show has had such universal and lasting appeal. It’s also simple enough that creating an interactive version for the Wii U could be done and done well.
Whether you’re playing against local friends or AI opponents, player one always uses the Wii U GamePad to answer questions. Pressing the A button allows you to buzz in, and you can then select your answer using with the GamePad’s touch screen or buttons. Second or third players can point at the television with Wii Remotes to follow similar commands, except their selectable answers are displayed up on the big screen. Playing through a game of Jeopardy! solo is a great way to unwind and exercise your mind, but playing with a room full of friends is definitely the more exciting way to enjoy it.
One aspect of gameplay exclusive to multiplayer bouts is the inclusion of mini-games. Between each round of the main game, Trebek will cut to a commercial break. If you’re playing by yourself then the game will seamlessly flow into the second round, but with multiplayer games you will instead be challenged to a mini-game. Don’t worry, there aren’t any actual product endorsements built into the game during the aforementioned commercial breaks. Though they may be called “mini-games,” the activities that you take part in are actually just additional quiz questions, but with a bit of variety added in. One will have you placing historical events in chronological order, while another has you selecting an image as your answer rather than a traditional verbal response. It is true that these mini-games lend a break to the somewhat monotonous answering of quiz questions, but what they really come down to is just more questions that don’t contribute to your final score.
Unsurprisingly, this game shares and almost identical aesthetic design with Wheel of Fortune, THQ’s other recent game show turned Wii U outing. The setting reflects the actual game show’s set accurately, but portrays everything with a slightly cartoony wash over it. The in-game music is also taken directly from the show’s iconic theme song, and Alex Trebek even lends his own voice to his character. There is an odd occurrence in which the theme song actually ends before the credits finish rolling, leaving the last few names displayed in stark silence, but all in all the game looks and sounds great.
The character models are similarly cartoonish, with human features exaggerated to look akin to the style of Miis. You do have the option of customising your character, and you can unlock new articles of clothing by winning games to further alter your appearance, but you can’t actually import your own Mii character to use in the game. This really feels like a missed opportunity, but the customisable elements provided do allow for a bit of diversity as well.
It’s difficult to say how much enjoyment or how many hours any player will invest into a game like this, but anyone who is a fan of the TV program is absolutely going to have a blast with this Wii U version. Jeopardy! is not the most exciting game in the world by any stretch of the imagination, but it can be thoroughly enjoyable nonetheless. This home version boasts over 3000 clues to be solved, unlockable clothes for your character, and unlockable concept art, so anyone invested enough to play repeat games will surely be busy for quite some time.
Jeopardy! for Wii U is a faithful adaptation of the incredibly popular TV quiz show, but that’s about as far as it goes. There's nothing too new or exciting is present to entice strangers to the game, but it is still a thoroughly enjoyable and family-friendly game. While this may not appeal to all gamers out there, anyone who is a fan of the show and wants to try their hand at answering a few questions themselves will definitely get a kick out of this version.