Deal or No Deal
Developer: Global Star Software
Publisher: Zoo Games Inc.
Genre: Game Show
Release Date: 01/20/2009
I have to admit it, I am a closet game show fan. From the tender age of five when I would stay home from school to watch the Price is Right, Press Your Luck, Joker’s Wild, and the $25,000 Pyramid to age ten, when I was banned from the living room whenever Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! were on, for fear that I would anger some insecure relative with my ability to solve the puzzles and answer the questions very quickly. When Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? became a cultural touchstone in the late 90’s, I found it boring beyond words. The questions were multiple choice! How utterly droll. When the American version of Deal or No Deal premiered in 2005, I was confused. On one hand, the risk assessment and game theory aspects were fascinating. On the other hand was the abject horror of Howie Mandel’s gleaming head and bizarre hand motions. Needless to say, my interest waned long ago.
A few days ago, I was awoken by a torrent of water. It seems that a water spout on the back of my home was open and the ice that had seized it was loosed. My back deck was flooded with water, as was my lawn. After slogging through the muddy mire to turn off the spout, I was called into the basement by my screaming wife. The water and leaked in through a basement window and had covered the wall, carpet, and wood floors with a torrent of water. I spent two hours scrubbing, toweling, and swearing at the floor before it was mostly dry. With that, I went upstairs, assured my day could not get any worse. Cue our Editor in Chief, Alex Lucard.
> I walked out to the mailbox with my dog, Darby Quintron. I opened it to find a big fat envelope from the man in charge. I thought that, perhaps, he had sent some sort of PS3 game as a gift or a surprise. Perhaps a spare copy of Valkyria Chronicles or Resistance 2 had found its way into his pale grasp… I tore away the envelope with due speed and diligence. This was going to save my day, I just knew it. Then, I saw the white case. It could still be something fun for the Wii, maybe something from SEGA. Then I saw HIS face on the box. Howie Mandel reentered my life.
As a child, I watched whatever my parents watched, be it Cagney and Lacey, Riptide, or St. Elsewhere. Even through the eyes of a young boy, the antics of Dr. Wayne Fiscus, played by Howie Mandel, were off-putting and struck me as signs of some sort of mental illness. Little did I know that he suffered from OCD and mysophobia, as well as possessing a creepy child alter ego. Of course, I speak of Bobby. Bobby, the duck-like child voice that Howie does, was featured on the least funny Saturday morning cartoon ever, Bobby’s World. When that abortion finally ended, I thought I was free of Howie Mandel. Then, Lucard had to reintroduce him into my life.
So, how bad could a game based on the most simple-minded game show of all time be? Well, looking back at the history of game show to video game translations, things did not look promising. Wheel of Fortune always translated well, mainly due to the simplicity of the game itself. I played the DOS version way too much as a kid, memorizing the puzzles. The game I always dreamed of being on, Jeopardy!, always suffers in translation, due mainly to the reduction of the questions to multiple choice. Until voice recognition software gets better, virtual Jeopardy! will always suck. The Price Is Right can’t seem to do better than mediocre, but with Drew Carey around, how good could it be?
For those who have not watched Deal or No Deal, the premise is simple. Twenty-six models with numbered briefcases line up on a stage. The player has to select a case that they will use as collateral. Following that selection, they choose 6 cases to remove from contention. Each case is opened by the model holding it and the amount inside is removed from the board showing all the possible amounts. After the first round, the banker makes an offer in an attempt to get the player to quit without opening their own case. Obviously, the more big money prizes on the board, the higher the offer and the more small amounts left, the smaller the offer. The player either takes the deal or starts a new round. Each round has the player removing one fewer briefcase. If the player somehow resists the urge to cash out until the end, they can either keep their own case or trade it in for the lone remaining model’s case. Bada bing bada boom, you have yourself a game show. It should be noted that the actual television show has a truly mind melting ability to pad and extend time so that an hour of television feels like several days, resulting in a feeling of lost time not unlike that reported by UFO abduction victims.
Upon loading up the game in my Wii, I knew that the experience I was about to induce on myself would be sado-masochistic. I had a deadline, though, so I pushed on. The first thing that the single player mode inspires is pain. The jaggy, janky jalopy of a set is worse than last gen. It is roughly N64 quality in terms of graphics. The audience is made up of comatose button eyed rag dolls. Oh, and there are only like 18 of them. When the host and models, Big Head Howie and the Monsters, appear, they are a frightening sight to behold. Imagine a midget Howie Mandel that has a major case of kung-fu mouth and strange, devilish eyes. Now, imagine this Howie From Hell is standing in front of 26 creatures that are half Robert Palmer video and half Bratz doll. I shudder in the memory of it.
The one, lone, singular thing I liked about the game was the ability to use my own Miis. Unfortunately, the Miis look out of place alongside the creepy in game models. Even Hitler Mii looked scared and sad when confronted by Howie. Ich bin ein game show contestant.
Single player plays exactly like the show. This is not as good a thing as you might think. The player has two choices: sit through the awkward and badly dubbed scenes or jam on the A button, desperate to race between the segments of pointing and clicking. That is the whole of the game. Click, wait, click, wait, click, wait, click, click, click. My thumb trembles at the thought of it.
If you have ever dreamed of being the banker, well, this game has a mode for you, too. That is, if you have a Terry Funk sized immunity to pain. In Banker mode, you must watch and wait as a computer player plays Deal or No Deal. Then make an offer, within the parameters the game sets for you. Then watch another round. Rinse, repeat, vomit. After the single player version, you get to watch as two, and then three, oh my, players play against you. Sort of. Playing as the Banker is about as much fun as stepping on something squishy and trying to suss out what it was by looking at the bottom of your shoe. That’s better than the mini games, though. Those are like trying to guess by tasting the aforementioned squishy thing.
The so-called mini games are three sub-Flash level tortures wrapped in the glitz and glamour of Deal or No Deal. Blackjack is kind of like the card game I deal for a living, without the strategy or logic. Sharpshooter is a point and click shooting game with a screen full of briefcases. Oh, the fun. Press Your Luck is so awful that I wish Peter Tomarken would rise from the grave and wreak horrible vengeance on all who committed this travesty, especially the voice over the woman who announces each mini game. Her strange voice pattern made me want to learn a new language and forget English altogether.
I need a shower.
Control and Gameplay: Mediocre
Appeal Factor: Dreadful
FINAL SCORE: DREADFUL GAME
Short Attention Span Summary
Even with a Trophy system to try and get you to play again, this game is not worth the time you spend on it. Read a book, plant a tree, call your mom. Call someone else’s mom. Just do yourself a favor. Do. Not. Play. This. Game. Ugh.