Jeopardy! FI

SNES A Day 130: Jeopardy!


Approximate Release Date: December 1, 1992
Genre: Game show
Developer: Imagineering
Publisher: GameTek

Jeopardy! is another in the long line of attempts to translate the hit television game show to video games. It’s probably not surprising that this 1992 attempt doesn’t work very well.

Wheel of Fortune works on a basic level because it’s Hangman with a roulette wheel bolted on. There is a binary right and wrong in the puzzles and you’re just picking one letter at a time. Jeopardy! follows the rules of the TV show, so you have to spell the full word using the standard Super Nintendo-style of word entry. This is agonizingly slow. It took me about 25 seconds to hammer out “vaseline” out of a 61 second time limit. Good luck if you have even longer words!

The real issue is that there is one critical point of possible failure in Jeopardy!: the text parser. The game has to read what you type in and check it against what the answer is programmed to be. You have to have trust to make such a system work, and I don’t think I trust 1992-era technology to carry this game. How well does the game handle synonyms or misspellings? Can Jeopardy! handle situations such as cantaloupe, cantelope, mushmelon, muskmelon, and cantaloup all meaning the same thing based on regionality? If not, how can you trust the game to function at its most basic level?

Still, Jeopardy! ticks off all the back-of-the-box features you’d expect. Alex Trebek is here, complete with lo-fi voice clips. The cart faithfully recreates the iconic music and sounds of the game show. There is pass-the-controller multiplayer with two other people, too.

Weirdly, Jeopardy! messes up the Final Jeopardy! part of the game. The second and third players are able to enter the money they’re willing to bet after seeing the question. That’s not how the game is supposed to work. Everyone is supposed to bet blind.

Everything I said about Wheel of Fortune applies to Jeopardy!, except Wheel of Fortune is a better game more suited to the SNES. As a general rule, there’s no reason to play any form of Jeopardy! Except yelling at the TV during the broadcast. That’s always acceptable.

Tomorrow: Get pumped for more tennis with Jimmy Connors Pro Tennis Tour. Please. Someone needs to.

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