(Wii U)

Game Review

Wheel of Fortune Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Philip J Reed

Worth a spin?

Since its debut in 1975, Wheel of Fortune has been an early evening staple in homes across America. Its engaging simplicity has had viewers shouting answers at their television sets for almost 40 years now, and the tension stirred by a spin of its titular wheel has been felt by everybody rooting either for or against any given contestant. It's a fun game to watch, that much is clear, but would you actually do as well with these puzzles if you were playing yourself?

Well, Wii U owners can find out the answer to that question with Wheel of Fortune, which is an adaptation so faithful that they hired host Pat Sajak, hostess Vanna White and announcer Jim Thornton to lend an air of authenticity to the proceedings. The result is a bit mixed, but we do think it's safe to say that if you love the show, you're likely to enjoy the time you spend here.

The concept of the show is as simple as Hangman. You are given a category (such as "Things" or "Proper Name") and a board that displays blank tiles in place of the letters in the word or phrase. Contestants take turns calling out consonants, and if those consonants are part of the solution they are revealed on the board, and you receive the prize money that's currently displayed on the wheel. Vowels can also be called, but they cost money that will come out of the contestant's winnings. If the letter you call is not part of the solution, your turn ends and play continues with the next player. If at any time you think you know the answer, you can solve the puzzle.

It's simple, and it always has been. The wrinkle, however, which gives the game its unpredictability is the wheel itself. Before calling a consonant, the contestant must spin the Wheel of Fortune. This is what determines the cash value of a correct answer, but it can also lead to nasty surprises, such as losing your turn or total bankruptcy. There are three players in every game, and while some of them may be more or less of a wordsmith than others, their fates are all equally bound to the whims of the great wheel.

This is both a good and a bad thing when playing at home, as it serves as a way to ensure that nobody wins consistently, and nobody loses consistently. But it can also get frustrating for the same reason, as an entire round's worth of cash and prizes can be sucked away in an unavoidable instant.

The Wii U version of the game plays very well, though that's to be expected when the entirety of the interaction has to do with selecting letters one by one. Even the NES version handled that well enough. Player one uses the GamePad, and everyone else gets a Wii Remote, and the controls are uniformly good. For instance, anyone can select their letters with the D-Pad and buttons, while the GamePad holder can simply tap them on the screen, and the Wii Remote users can point at the television. It all works very well, and no matter what controller you end up with you should be able to find a comfortable option.

If there are fewer than three human players available, the CPU will take over the vacant slots. We'd recommend turning the CPU down to "easy" if that's the case, though, because if it's set too high AI characters simply end up solving every puzzle they can, with their turn not ending unless they happen to have an unfortunate turn of the wheel, and you'll have to sit back and watch patiently as they play through the final round alone. That's not much fun.

You can customise your players to a respectable extent, and you unlock more items of clothing as you play. Some of these, especially the trousers and shoes, are kind of pointless to unlock as you almost never see them, but it's a nice enough gesture. You can also unlock additional sound stages for the show, with such themes as Las Vegas and Cruise Week, all of which will be familiar to fans of the actual television programme.

The graphics aren't particularly impressive, and the large-headed versions of Pat and Vanna are the stuff of nightmares, but overall they get the job done. The audio is quite good as it borrows music and sound effects from the actual show, but there aren't many lines of dialogue which means you'll hear the same words of encouragement and condolences over and over again, and it gets grating even during the course of a single play session. There's also a nice touch of ambient audience noise during the "quiet" parts of the show; you'll hear them shuffling in their seats or clearing their throats. For whatever reason there's also the sound of somebody noisily breaking wind edited into the mix. You've been warned.

Overall it's not a bad game. It's absolutely suitable for families, and the controls are easy to master. But it is held back by the simple limitations of the format. When the difference between winning and losing the game comes down to a fateful spin of a wheel, it's hard to stay invested, or to feel satisfied by solving the puzzles. The fact that the money and prizes obviously aren't real also contributes to the game feeling somewhat uninvolving.

The developers did try to rectify this somewhat by including mini-games in place of the commercial breaks, wherein strategy and knowledge are the deciding factors, but you don't get anything for winning other than points toward becoming the "audience favourite". We played through this game multiple times and becoming the "favourite" didn't have any effect whatsoever, though, so the satisfaction of winning can only go so far. We're not even sure why it's there. Perhaps if you win that guy in the audience feels a little guiltier about breaking wind while you're trying to think.

Unfortunately that fact remains unconfirmed at the time of publication.

Conclusion

Wheel of Fortune is a flawed but basically solid family version of the long-running game show. Its pointless mini-games and tiny bank of voice samples mar the experience a bit, but ultimately fans of the show should feel right at home. The largest issue is the limited feel of the game show's format itself, so your mileage depends on how many times you, personally, can solve Hangman puzzles without getting bored. And that is something only you will know for sure.

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User Comments (35)

LEGEND_MARIOID

#1

LEGEND_MARIOID said:

Sounds like it should've been a cheaper DL. Sticking with the awesome TV Show King series on wiiware

brucelebnd

#5

brucelebnd said:

and this is why I don't own a Wii U.

none of the titles out currently justify spending 400+. the best titles on the system are ports for the most part. nothing really exciting on the eShop either. Pandora's Tower and Retro City Rampage hold my interest more than any current Wii U title.

I'm not bashing Nintendo, I just wish they would have had a better selection of launch titles

rayword45

#9

rayword45 said:

@TheKingOfTown A rating doesn't necessarily indicate shovelware.

Spirit Hunters got a 3/10 but was in development for over 1.5 years. Not shovelware.
Duke Nukem Forever took over a decade to develop, and sucked. DEFINITELY not shovelware.

New COD games are of the same quality, and are debatably shovelware since they're the same engine typically, with only a few new maps that fans could make and a short, short campaign. Probably took very little to make (although whenever the engine is updated.that takes more.)
EA, Activision and Capcom are all incredibly guilty of making shovelware. I'd argue the same for Nicalis in terms of indies. Still, all these games are of consistent quality.

emayer

#10

emayer said:

I have the Wii version that came out a couple years ago (and is largely identical to this version, judging from this review), and it's a well-made, faithful adaptation that can be quite a bit of fun if you're a fan of the show. It's not a brilliant gaming experience, but it's certainly not shovelware.

Ren

#12

Ren said:

gee, this sounds like a shimmering example of the kind of software that make the WiiU a must-have "next gen" console. games like Retro City are the only reason I haven't given up on video games all together, Nintendo needs to bribe someone for some real exclusives or something.

WhiteTrashGuy

#14

WhiteTrashGuy said:

I have this and JEOPARDY on thw Wii and I see no reason to upgrade, in fact I say that the Wii versions are better as you can use the WiiSpeak to answer any puzzles/questions and customize your character's sound bites.

nocode

#15

nocode said:

Quite the timely review there nintendo life. I guess it's more of a comment on the current state of wii u releases... It's a wasteland out there.

Chrono_Cross

#16

Chrono_Cross said:

@rayword45

Ratings and sales should determine whether or not something is shovelware. Something you obviously don't understand. Going by your definition, nothing that is widely considered fantastic by the gaming community, such as Half Life or Final Fantasy VII, can be considered good.

Call of Duty is not shovelware just because your ignorance blinds you.

Jukilum

#17

Jukilum said:

I remember playing the DOS version on a floppy disk. Then when we got a faster computer the game sped up too. Ah, the memories.

rayword45

#18

rayword45 said:

@Chrono_Cross What the hell are you talking about?

"The metaphor implies that the creators showed little care for the original software, as if the new compilation or version had been indiscriminately created/ported with a shovel, without any care shown for the condition of the software on the newly created product"

Are you serious? Do me a favor and climb out of my tushie, cause I'm sick of your stupid assumption jumping posts.

When did I ever say anything like "Half-Life and FFVII is shovelware lol"? WHEN!?

COD constitutes shovelware, because each new entry is quickly made (like I said, not when they have to update the engine for consoles and such). Capcom makes quick ports, THOSE ARE SHOVELWARE.

I never said Half-Life is shovelware, I never said anything like that. You should honestly stop putting words in my mouth and close yours.

rayword45

#19

rayword45 said:

And now that I got that out, the simplified, less ragey post.

Either you misread my post, or you're just looking for reasons for superiority.

I never gave my definition of Shovelware, so I'll do it for you. Shovelware is when a game is made with little effort put in. So a game like Duke Nukem Forever, considered one of the worst First-Person Shooters made this decade, is not shovelware because it took years to make.

Each new COD game is made very quickly as far as I can tell. You can argue otherwise, but the speed of release doesn't help. Games like New Super Mario Bros are arguably shovelware as well, if you still want to think I'm a fanboy.

A bad game like Ninjabread Man and Anubis II constitutes shovelware not just because of quality, but because of how lazily it was made. A shovelware game can still be "good" if you like it. A lot of side-project iOS games could work here.

Chrono_Cross

#20

Chrono_Cross said:

@rayword45

Please read my post again. I never said you said anything. I clearly said, going by your definition, anything can considered shovelware.

Your logic, games that are quickly made, are shovelware. So that means Ocarina of Time 3D is shovelware, even though its Metascore and fanbase disagrees. And I agree with the disagreeing crowd.

Just because a game is made in one, two or even three years does qualify it as shovelware. Maybe if you played Call of Duty, you'd know what you're talking about. (Please read this post slowly so you understand my point this time.)

Chrono_Cross

#21

Chrono_Cross said:

Shovelware is not judged by time spent during development. It's the overall quality of the product.

rayword45

#22

rayword45 said:

A. Stop being a condescending jerk.

B. Yes, games that are quickly made are shovelware. Shovelware isn't always bad, I've even played shovelware I've enjoyed.

Time is a difficult factor, because if they worked on it for years yet made one small change a month it could still be shovelware. I do not know how much care was put into Ocarina of Time 3D.

rayword45

#23

rayword45 said:

"Shovelware is content taken from any source and put on the Web as fast as possible with little regard for appearance and usability."

"i usually define shovelware as a game thats been quickly ported over from one platform to another....with little or no regard for the other systems strengths or weeknesses. in other words, a quick and dirty port."

Yes, time is a major factor of shovelware. If you call DNF shovelware you are highly misinformed. If you call it a bad game that's quite different.

Chrono_Cross

#24

Chrono_Cross said:

You're the one swearing. And I'm the jerk?

Shovelware, by its definition, is something that is bad in the holder of an opinion. You can't call a good game a bad good game due to contradicting oneself. It's either it's shovelware or it's not.

Okay, you seem to know what you're talking about. How does Call of Duty qualify as shovelware? Pick any game. I want a thoroughly well written explanation.

I also don't know where you pulled those quotes from, but the latter isn't a reliable source and the former, well, it wouldn't surprise me if you didn't copy and paste the full definition.

theblackdragonAdmin

#25

theblackdragon said:

@Chrono: He's already explained why he considers CoD shovelware, in his first comment no less — "New COD games are of the same quality, and are debatably shovelware since they're the same engine typically, with only a few new maps that fans could make and a short, short campaign. Probably took very little to make (although whenever the engine is updated.that takes more.)" Also, jumping in out of nowhere to say your definition of shovelware is something he 'obviously [wouldn't] understand' and telling him his 'ignorance blinds [him]' didn't really start you off on the non-arrogant foot. Please chill with the jabs at other users.

That said, if we could drop this argument and get back to the review and the game in question, I'd appreciate it. Thanks in advance, guys! :3

brucelebnd

#26

brucelebnd said:

@nintendomaster i hope so. I'm excited about the new xenoblade game. I can't really blame nintendo, they release great games in japan and sometimes europe, but NA usually gets shafted. day of disaster, tales of graces or mother 3. I know we got xenoblade and the rest but people had to practically beg for those.

I understand it's not all nintendo's fault but nintendo did say it was going to try to appeal to gamers but so far it's nothing, just the same old same old. what if nintendo had namco port the PS3 japanese version of Tales of Vesperia to the the Wii U at lauch. I would have bought a Wii U just for the exclusive and I'm sure a lot of other people would have too. probably all 270k who bought the game for the Xbox.

but you're right when zelda or the new xenoblade comes out I'm buying it. hell they could put skies or arcadia on the eShop and I'd probably buy one. why nintendo abandoned JRPG fans in NA is beyond me. i just hope they make it right with the Wii U

bowsersblog

#28

bowsersblog said:

I would have bought this game if it had online play like the other versions. I think it would have been fun to play against players online. Wonder why they didn't put it in for the Wii U version, even though the box states online interactions.

Bass_X0

#29

Bass_X0 said:

Shovelware, by its definition, is something that is bad in the holder of an opinion.

I believe shovelware means to "shovel it out the door" as in getting a game produced and on the shelves in a very short time. While this usually equates into a being a bad game, it is not always so.

EA, Activision and Capcom are all incredibly guilty of making shovelware.

Super Street Fighter II Turbo is technically shovelware compared to Super Street Fighter II, but it was the best Street Fighter II game of all time.

element187

#34

element187 said:

@LEGEND_MARIOID Agreed... Drop this game down to the $10 to $15 range and I'll buy it.

lets not kid ourselves, the production time that went into this game is probably less than many indie games we have the E-Shop.

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