“Can I see R S T L N E on the board?”
As a kid, I was always obssessed with America’s Game: Wheel of Fortune. I had several versions of the board game, from the classic 1990’s and 80’s versions found at a Thrift Store, to a Plug and Play game, and the version for the Game Boy.
Over the years, there have been countless Video Game versions of Wheel of Fortune, and currently I own three of them. I plan on adding more to my collection, but I thought we could start with these three for the Game Boy, Xbox One and Nintendo DS.
But that’s not all. At the end of these Wheel of Fortune reviews, I will be ranking the games from best to worst. So we’ll be able to see if older versions of the games have still held up, despite their puzzles being possibly outdated. I’ll be reviewing the games based on their astetic, gameplay accuracy to the game show it is based on, and overall fun factor.
To keep things fair, I will play one game in each version on their normal, or medium difficulty if it offers the option to choose a difficulty.
Wheel of Fortune for Xbox One
Before we even get into the game, the title screen already has music that just screams Wheel of Fortune. Like, if it was just a black screen and didn’t blatantly say “Wheel Of Fortune” I would know that I was playing Wheel of Fortune.
Still yet before we get into the game, we have several menus we can choose from, I’m going to briefly go over the customization menus. Here we have a fairly decent character customization menu to alter how you look in game, you can change the set that you play on to different themes, and you can change the prizes that you can win on the wheel. You unlock additional options by simply leveling up in the game.
Now onto the gameplay.
Right off the bat, it starts with the iconic ‘Wheel! Of! Fortune!” intro that hits me in the face with a wave of nostalgia of watching it with my mom or grandparents on TV, so it’s got some great things going for this version already. And then the announcer introduces the….nameless….hosts?
What the hell happened to Pat Sajak and Vanna White? They were in the Nintendo DS version (More on that Later), I suppose they didn’t get permission for their likeness to be represented here, but honestly, I would have preferred that we didn’t have a host instead of this unsettling guy we have here.
Hosts aside, the set that you play on is Wheel of Fortune, so as far as aesthetic it scored some major points here.
I’m going to very quickly lay out the progress of rounds here. And then go a bit in depth afterwards.
Rounds progress as so:
- 2 Toss up puzzles
- A Normal Round
- A Mystery Round
- A Prize Round
- Toss Up Puzzle
- Final Spin
- Bonus Round
Toss up puzzles involve with the puzzle slowly adding letters until a player solves it. You do this by pressing ‘A’ to buzz in, and then punch in the letters using the keyboard provided.
A Normal round progresses as follows, you can spin the wheel, solve the puzzle, buy a vowel if you have at least $250, or pass. If you spin, the wheel will land on a monetary value of which you’ll be awarded for each letter you guess during that spin that is present on the board. Solving the puzzle correctly will end the round, and the person that solved the puzzle wins the money. If your turn is ended either by: Guessing an incorrect number, landing on ‘Lose a Turn’ or ‘Bankrupt’, or solving the puzzle incorrectly, play moves onto the next player.
The Mystery round proceeds the same as the Normal Round, only with an added ‘Mystery’ wedge that if you land on and guess a correct letter, you can flip to either go Bankrupt or win $1000 depending upon your luck.
The Prize round plays exactly the same as the Normal Round, with an added ‘Prize’ wedge for a trip to a specific destination, such as France. Whoever wins the prize and the round gets to keep the prize, afterwards a bit of a cool travel montage like the ones you see when they win on TV plays.
With the final spin, the-not-Pat-Sajak-host-dude spins the wheel for the final time, setting the value for all letters, including Vowels, and then play proceeds in a round robin style, having each player guess a letter, and then given the chance to solve the puzzle. This continues until the puzzle is solved.
Finally, we have the bonus round. The winning player goes with not-Pat-Sajak to spin a mini wheel full of cards with mystery money values , the host will take the card and the player will be presented with the puzzle. R S T L and E are already given to you, and if they are on the board, will appear. The player is then given the chance to choose three constants and a vowel, after which the puzzle must be solved within the time limit. If the player does so correctly, the card will be revealed and added to their winnings.
And that’s how you play America’s Game, at least on the Xbox One.
Don’t worry, I won’t be going over the progress of rounds in depth with the other ones as I did here. I’ll be noting what is different from this one, as the Xbox One version got the rounds right. For all intents and purposes, this is Wheel of Fortune.
Overall, this Xbox One version of Wheel of Fortune is as much, if not, more fun than watching the game on TV. This game nails Wheel of Fortune right on the head. And if this was the only copy you were ever to own, then it would be a good choice.
Of course however, there are other versions of Wheel of Fortune in Video Game form, so let’s move on shall we?
Wheel of Fortune for Nintendo DS
Here we move onto Wheel of Fortune for Nintendo DS, which is another Authentic Experience, I’ll say right off the bat, although there are somethings here I don’t quite like, which I’ll get to later.
First let’s delve on the Character Creator they have here once again. It lets you design a bobble-head like character to play as, and I find the bobble-heady cartoon art style to be quite fun, as even Pat and Vanna are here, with Pat voiced by Pat in full bobble-headdy glory.
Now into the gameplay, again I’ll quickly go over the progression of rounds, though I won’t go as in-depth as before.
- 2 Tossup Rounds
- Jackpot/Prize Round
- Normal Round
- Mystery Round
- Tossup Round
- Final Spin
- Bonus Round
The gameplay for the rounds I covered in the Xbox One Version play very much the same, although another round here is present that I should go over: The Jackpot/Prize Round.
The Prize aspect of this round is the same as the one in the Xbox One Version, win the round, you win a trip. But the Jackpot aspect wasn’t present in the Xbox One Game as it is a retired game play element.
In the original Daytime running of the show, it ran from 1986 to 1988, and during the now familar nightly games it ran from 1996 to 2013. The Xbox One version was released in 2014, a year after its retirement, whereas the DS Version was released in 2010, three years before its retirement.
The gameplay is more or less the same, save for the addition of the Jackpot wedge. The Jackpot starts at $5,000 and adds the value of every spin throughout the round to the jackpot. If you land on the jackpot wedge and guess a correct letter and solve the puzzle, all in one turn, you are awarded the jackpot.
Now that we covered that, the one thing that irritates me with this game is the lack of music. We have music in the menus, but when the game starts up, the gameplay is silent save for sound effects and Pat Sajak’s witty commentary to fill the V O I D.
Overall however, this is another solid adaptation to Wheel of Fortune. Then again, it’s Wheel of Fortune, so how hard can it be to mess it up?
Wheel of Fortune for Game Boy
At last we come to Wheel Of Fortune, for the Game Boy, released in 1990.
This game is probably the most radically different from the previous games we’ve taken a look at for two reasons.
- It’s for the Game Boy, and is as such is limited in what it can do, due to this I may handicap it’s rating a bit.
- This game was released in 1990, and as such follows the rules of the 1990 daytime version of the show, which was very different from what we have today in the 2019 nighttime version of the show.
Let’s go over how rounds progress. This version of the game only has four rounds, much shorter than the previous games.
- 2 Normal Rounds
- Final Spin
- Bonus Round
The Normal Rounds and Final Spin play the same as in the other versions of the game. However, the Bonus round is the most radically different.
During the 1990 version of the game, there was no bonus wheel. Instead, the contestant chose from 5 different envelopes, labeled W, H, E, E, and L. One prize was always $25,000, while the others were changed weekly. In the Game Boy version you don’t get to pick your envelope unfortunately, it does it for you instead, when I played I got the $25,000. I’m not sure if there are other prizes on the Game Boy or not.
During 1990, you were not given the “R S T L and E” as we hear today, instead the contestant simply chose 5 constants and a vowel and left to solve the bonus puzzle. From here, the bonus round plays the same as it does now. Solve the puzzle within the allotted time limit.
Some things to note here. This version of Wheel of Fortune is very basic. Suprisingly, it includes a sprite of Vanna, which is a nice touch, but the only music you’ll hear is during the start screen and at the beginning and end of rounds.
Something else I noticed is that the controls, specifically the A button, are very touchy. I’ve often found myself accidentally clicking on a letter when I didn’t mean to, or entering it in twice when trying to solve the puzzle.
When buying a vowel or guessing a letter, all the letters other than ones already guessed are there, so if you accidentally click on a vowel when you aren’t buying one, or a constant when you are buying a vowel, it ends your turn.
Finally, there is a distinct lack of CPUs, there is a multiplayer function, but you can’t play against a CPU player in single player mode, which I again forgive this installation for as it was made for the Game Boy.
Although this was one of only two games I owned for the Game Boy as a kid, this is probably the only version of Wheel of Fortune thus far that I can’t recommend. We now have versions that are much more involved and interesting along with more relevant puzzles that you’re likely to be able to solve. This is a nice little title for the Game Boy, but unfortunately time has not been kind on this version.
The Final Spin
Overall, this has been a fun experience, replaying these old Wheel of Fortune games. But there are more. Including a Full-Motion-Video version for the Nintendo 64. I’m a big fan of FMV games like Night Trap, Double Switch, and Night Shift. So that’s one that I need to get my hands on. And being a fan of the game since I was a kid, I’m sure that I’ll pick more versions of the game up, and continue this series in my search for the best Wheel of Fortune Video Game Adaptation. But as it stands, there was no contest, the current version for the Xbox One is easily the best. It nails the asesthic of the game on the head, even though they couldn’t get Pat Sajak and Vanna White to appear in the game.
Here are the rankings for best Wheel of Fortune video games as it stands
- Wheel of Fortune for Xbox One
- Wheel of Fortune for Nintendo DS
- Wheel of Fortune for Game Boy
Stay tuned for more ridiculously in depth Wheel of Fortune reviews, lol.