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Dec 26 2010

“Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” Wii Game Review

Anybody who knows me shouldn’t be surprised that I went out and bought “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” for the Wii. I have been a fan of the show since its inception around 10 years ago. It probably had its peak in popularity a year or two after its release. Now, it’s just another game show on primetime TV. They have changed the rules many times, most notably the most recent change which got rid of the standard 15 questions in order of increasing difficulty and prize money. The game, however, sticks to the tried and true format of the 15 questions, still leaving some of the newer aspects intact.

Let’s go over what this game has. Naturally, the standard single player game is here, allowing you to play through the game as if you were on the TV show. The three lifelines are pretty much what you’d expect: Ask the Audience, Phone a Friend and Double Dip, which is similar to the older 50/50 lifeline. I’ve got to say, Phone a Friend is pretty useless. The computer just gives you an answer and a % of how confident they are. I’ve never encountered a computer ‘friend’ who gave me two possible answers. Basically, it doesn’t quite simulate what it should be in real life. But then, this is probably the hardest one to simulate accurately. However, if I remember correctly, the older PC version had a ‘friend’ who was actually called and would think through the question like a real person and talk out loud to you. This would probably have made the development of the game unnecessarily larger than it needed to be, but it would have been an interesting feature. And much more realistic.

This game has many issues I would like to address. While they may all be relatively minor, and perhaps nitpicky, some are inexcusable. One such case that is really inexcusable in my opinion is that when you choose to Walk Away from the question, you actually don’t get to hear the correct answer. I really don’t see the logic in leaving the player hanging as to what the correct answer was. I mean, if the player is choosing to Walk Away it means they probably really didn’t know the answer. The TV show usually encouraged the player to take a wild guess at it, so at least they could see. Sometimes, I’ve been more tempted to go for the question and lose money just so that I can at least see the correct answer.

Another inexcusable missing feature is the lack of Mii support. Yes, Mii’s are relatively simple and probably lack facial expressions and such that these ‘real’ characters have, but this is the kind of game that really screams for Mii support. I guess it wouldn’t have been so bad if the character editing tool wasn’t so lame. You can’t even change hair color. It doesn’t have to be as detailed as The Sims or anything, but there’s really relatively few choices of wardrobe and such. It appears that there are some ‘hidden’ wardrobe, too. However, it doesn’t appear to be unlockable by doing anything in the game itself, but rather just having a promotional code to unlock it. Lame.

The list continues-there’s only 4 profiles available. This one doesn’t fall under ‘inexcusable’, but you’d think they would have a lot more spots open to allow for more players. You don’t necessarily need more profiles to play, but to compensate they should have a Guest profile or something. The game is also rather plain-there are no options other than adjusting volume levels for the voice, music and sound effects. That is something I am actually very happy for-the music is a bit too loud, in my opinion. Speaking of music, the use of it is fairly good overall, but sadly the music for the Ask the Audience is missing, and the music seems to be easily cut off by other stuff. It’s nitpicky, to be sure, but it could have been improved.

Leaning toward more nitpicky now, when you Ask the Audience, the results show up and then the time resumes immediately. It gives you almost no time to look at the results from the audience and actually make a choice. Speaking of time, this is probably the biggest flaw in the game. I have no idea why there isn’t an option to play the game without the timer. I know it’s a property of the newer TV show, but it doesn’t have to be in this game. I have a feeling the producers added it to the TV show to make it easier to edit for TV. The reason I think this exists is because let’s suppose that somebody takes several minutes to look at a question and consider it. The producers may want to edit some of that out, but then they have to make it work in the 30-minute of 60-minute time slot or whatever. Well, whatever the case was for the show, it doesn’t need to be here.

It’s especially frustrating when you’re so close to giving the right answer, and you either click the wrong one and don’t click Final Answer in time or something. The game shouldn’t necessarily be about quick answers. Furthermore, the game does have a lot of questions (2,500 supposedly), but they will run out eventually. By not allowing players infinite time, the game is encouraging quicker play. If the game was structured to allow for infinite time, the game would feel longer, or in video game terms, more replayable. For a game that is as short as it is, not allowing the player at least a little bit more time is really, really sad. The game can also be ‘cheated’, in terms of time. The game allows you not to not only be able to used the Home button, but even the Pause button. Yes, you can Pause the game, and although it’s darker, you can still basically read all four answers and the majority of the question. If having time was such a big deal, why in the world would they allow you to pause the game in the middle of the question. Granted, the Home button does black out the screen, but you could still use that as ‘extra’ time to think about the question.

Most of the bad stuff aside, the game does have full voice samples for every question and answer. Believe it or not, I wasn’t expecting that, even in 2010 and even considering all the disc space. It’s not Regis or Meredith, but the man who is the host does a surprisingly good job. The game also looks very good, despite there being little ‘graphics’ to speak of. The font is a little tiny, though, so I would wonder what those with smaller TVs would do-I happen to have a big enough TV, but since seeing the character is unnecessary in the long run (wow, that argument would destroy the need for Mii support, hehe…), so they should at least have the option of making the font bigger. The game does actually keeps track of which question you’ve done. Well, I expect questions to repeat soon since I play the game like every day, but there’s still plenty to come by…I hope.

The game also features a 4-player mode, which is a nice spin on the main game. 15 questions are asked, and players continue through them even if they miss a question. The game also stays as difficult as the top player, which makes it more fair if all the players aren’t doing so well. Furthermore, it keeps the difficulty down if the top player has missed a few. It’s a rather well made system. Players choose the answer they want secretly by pressing a corresponding button on the Control Pad. Once all players have answered, the game reveals the given answers and the correct answer. The game also does a good job of letting players know where they stand after every question.

For what it’s worth, the explanations before either the Single Player or 4-Player mode is very well done. I had no idea how to play the 4-player mode, naturally, when I first tried it. However, there was no problem getting into it after the host (still using voice, which is a nice addition) explained it. One of the best features of this game is the voice work, actually. I know I mentioned it before, but it’s worth expounding upon a little more since it really helps out this otherwise flawed game. The element of hearing the host read the question and answers really does add another layer to the game that is very nice. I am used to playing the board game, so having this feature is very nice.

Well, I’ve said quite a bit about this game. For $30, I probably would pass on buying this unless you are a diehard fan of the series like me, and if you can swear to play this game in moderation. However, I can’t say it’s not fun. There is a thrill to being able to deduce the correct answer, and it’s easy to play a couple rounds and just quit if you’re a lonely single man like me. The questions themselves are also very fair; maybe even leaning toward challenging. I’ve actually only once ever gotten past the $25,000 question ($32,000 question from the old format), so that really does show how hard the game is. However, it will make getting to the $1,000,000 question that much more gratifying. This is also when all the extra time from all the other questions that you didn’t use comes into play. That will be a fun day.

Now, I paid $20 for this, and I could recommend it for around $15-$20. So if you find it used for that much, or you happen to be reading this review months later and the price has dropped, by all means, give this one a shot. I personally think you could do much better with TV Show King 2, which is actually a downloadable game. It’s only 800 Wii Points ($8), and has over 3 times as many questions as Who Wants to be a Millionaire. It’s a similar format-questions asked come with four possible choices. There’s even online options, which Millionaire is sorely missing. For a $30 game, it should have given us more. But again, if you’re a big fan, it may be a worthy purchase. Hope this has been a helpful review!