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Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! have finally arrived on PS4 and Xbox One as standalone downloads for $19 each or a retail $39 combo pack. Both titles rise above the terrible ports of previous generations, but a few setbacks hurt an otherwise solid experience. If you can look past those odd quirks, you ll find two totally serviceable party games.
WHEEL OF FORTUNE
Its round-to-round gameplay is identical to the TV show. Whether solo against AI or in local or online competitive play, players select letters to fill in word puzzles based on a series of categories. Spin the rainbow-colored wheel to rack up cash, and the contestant with the highest dollar value moves on to the final round for a chance at a fake fabulous prize. There s nothing special here, but that s OK. The puzzles were challenging and I never got a repeat solution. For a simple game like this, that s all that really matters.
The basic gameplay of Wheel of Fortune is pretty much there. Photo: Ubisoft
Something really worth appreciating are the additional modes beyond the standard rounds of play. If you don t have the full 30-ish minutes for a complete game, there s a quick mode option with fewer puzzles. If you re playing with younger kids, a family mode is easier to solve. Both gameplay variations can be toggled in any format, which is a nice touch. In the past developers would often release special family edition games. Here, you get both in one package.
In an effort to make Wheel of Fortune feel a bit more modern, Ubisoft has added a few clever hooks like avatar customization and integration with the Ubisoft Club service. Creating a contestant that looks like you is fairly meaningless as there aren t many customization options, and, as you can see from the screenshot below, they all look a bit derpy anyway. Playing through rounds to unlock clothes is a solid way to gameify things, but it s also a pointless grind.
These character avatars sure look weird. Photo: Ubisoft
The real hidden treasure is integration with Ubisoft Club. As you win games or hit various achievement milestones tied to a Ubisoft account, you can earn points that hold value in other Ubisoft games. In other words, playing Wheel of Fortune could mean unlocking a cool outfit in Assassin s Creed Origins. It s a neat way to make these seemingly inconsequential party games matter.
Wheel of Fortune was developed internally using the Unity engine (Jeopardy! was farmed out to a third-party studio) but that doesn t necessarily make for a better experience. As fun as the traditional gameplay can be, it s marred by some serious bugs that haven t been patched weeks after release. During review we experienced multiple crashes and noticeable framerate dips on PS4. For such a simple game that s pretty inexcusable, and it shows an obvious lack of polish on Ubisoft s behalf. Couple that with the fact that Pat Sajak and Vanna White are nowhere to be found in this game, and you may be feeling a bit salty afterward.
If you can look past those rough edges and are a fan of the show then the core of Wheel of Fortune is present enough to warrant $20.
As part of the same release, Jeopardy! borrows many features from Wheel of Fortune. Luckily it s all the good stuff. Integration with Ubisoft Club is just as rewarding, and options to toggle between short games and family mode provide new ways to play. We d also be remiss if we didn t mention Daily Challenges. These lightning rounds consist of six questions in categories of the player s choosing. It s a fun and fast reason to keep coming back.
This category board looks great, but the questions are another story. Photo: Ubisoft
Some design choices may be divisive. The general Jeopardy! loop is fast and free of the performance problems found in Wheel of Fortune, but some might say it comes at the cost of authenticity. Unlike past Jeopardy! games that had users type solutions to an open-response trivia game, the PS4 version lets contestants select from three possible questions to fit the corresponding answer. This multiple-choice format makes the experience feel less like Jeopardy! and more like Who Wants To Be A Millionaire..
The progression system is also a bit strange. Contestants with valid network accounts level up as they answer questions and win games across various categories. Each time the player levels, new categories are unlocked. As you might imagine, this creates a weird scenario where you ll often see repeat questions until you level up enough times to unlock new ones. By shrinking the number of available questions from the start, it makes this game feel like it has less content than it actually does. Oh, and the voice of Alex Trebek isn t here either.
While it s nice to have better performance and a cleaner presentation in Jeopardy!, purists may not like how the current-gen version is designed.
Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune recreated for PS4 and Xbox One are not as perfect as they could be. Oddly enough, the strengths of one game seem to be the weaknesses of the other. It s clear these two titles were developed by two teams that valued different things. If you can get past these shortcomings and the lack of host licensing, however, this collection
Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! are available on PS4 and Xbox One as a double pack or digital downloads.
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