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Jeopardy 64 Review

Publisher - Gametek
Developer - Gametek
Platform - N64
Type - Puzzle
Score - 6/10

Gametek has brought their second game show to the Nintendo 64 in the form of Jeopardy. Like Wheel of Fortune, their first game, Jeopardy isn't as good as it could have been, but it gets its job done.

Jeopardy, the trivia game show in which the answers are phrased in the form of a question, probably needs no introduction. Three players compete to get the most answers right from a series of questions in a variety of categories. Alex Trebek, appearing here in short video clips, is the host, and the board layout, dollar values, and special features like Daily Doubles and Final Jeopardy should be familiar to anyone who has ever turned on a television between 7 and 8 PM. While the video game captures all the essential elements of the show, it doesn't do it with any particular flair. It's not like it really needs it, but the game could have been more interesting than it is.

The gameplay is straightforward. One of the players chooses a category and a dollar amount, and a question appears. There's a lockout period to give everyone a chance to read the question, and then players can buzz in before the timer runs out. The game has three players, and any players that aren't controlled by humans are controlled by the computer. When someone buzzes in, they must type in the answer off an on-screen keyboard. This isn't as tedious as it might seem, especially since the game features word completion. Start typing, and it guesses what you mean. Once it figures it out, you don't need to type the rest of the answer. Since in some cases you can abuse this, by guessing and hoping that the game will fill in the correct answer, you can turn this off. You also have the choice of exact or loose spelling, so bad spellers won't necessarily be penalized.

Naturally, as a one player game, this gets pretty boring. But that's not the point. This is a party game, and if you have a group of people who are into it, it can get exciting. One tip-off: if you're the type who watches Jeopardy and tries to shout out the answer before the contestant does, you'll get a kick out of playing yourself. The question difficulty is reasonably varied, with some obvious questions and some that are impossible. Of course, the difficulty depends on the category, but that's part of the appeal. The ability of the computer players can be set, so you can basically ignore the computer if you want or drum up some real competition.

The game's graphics are its weak point. The board looks fine, and the questions are legible, and the video of Alex Trebek is good, but the players are pretty awful. The game cuts from the board to the players with no camera motion, and the players, in addition to being blurry, are totally static. It would be nice if they were into it, with happiness at getting a difficult question or dejection when getting something wrong, or at least a little motion. But since you're probably not playing this game for the great graphics anyway, this is a minor frustration.

The sound is good. The music and sound effects are close to the sound of the game show itself, and Alex Trebek's voice is of reasonable quality. One thing I would have liked is if he had read off the category titles, rather than just showing them on the screen. Obviously, reading all the questions would have been a bit much, but I would have expected the categories to be doable. Oh well, you can't have everything.

There isn't much to be said about the control. Button pounding matches when the answer is obvious and everyone is trying to buzz in feel appropriate, and the keyboard works about as well as could be expected, given that you're stuck using a Nintendo controller.

All in all, if you look to your Nintendo for entertainment even when you're around people who aren't video game fans (what's wrong with them, anyway?), Jeopardy will give you an alternative to just letting them be bored. While it could have been better, fans of the game show will be fans of the video game.