I'll take sloppy for $20, Alex.
The questions themselves are fine. The box claims they're from the Jeopardy! writing staff and there are over 5000 answers to question, so it should last a long time. That's something like 80 full games worth of questions included, so you'll certainly get your money's worth in that regard.
The reading of the questions themselves isn't bad, but they aren't read by Alex, either. Instead question-reading duty goes to Jeopardy! announcer Johnny Gilbert
. So it's... sort of a half-baked authenticity.
The ability to draw in your name like the show sounds pretty cool, but since it doesn't take full advantage of the analogness of the controller you probably won't end up with anything like a regular human signature. Luckily this is only used for picking who you are when you start a game, so it can keep track of statistics about how many right and wrong responses you give, your win/loss record, and money records for various portions of the game. The stats themselves are pretty nice.
The content is good, but most everything else about the game is mediocre at best.
As with many modern game show games, they feel the need to use video clips of the host. However, it feels like they could only take 10 minutes of Alex Trebek
's time and they gave him a script to read in front of a green screen. Then they edit it awkwardly, so sometimes he'll seem to sit there slack-jawed for a second before talking. Even were the clips not flawed in this way, you'll get tired of the wasted time and back-and-forth loading of randomly going to generic clips containing such important gems as "The answer we were looking for, was this!
" and "No, and I am sorry.
" I now find myself hitting Start every time Alex appears to skip the video and move things along.
The computer players use voice acting, one male voice and one female voice, which I guess is a fairly large feat considering how many possible answers they had to record. However, it just doesn't sound very good or natural. Sometimes it's like they're slowly reading a word they're not familiar with. Sometimes the sound quality itself seems low, while other times it's clear. Since this varies from clip to clip, it feels very inconsistent.
I was also left wondering why they didn't use the actual Jeopardy! set, or at least something like it. Alex's green screen clips are placed in front of an abstract set full of CG rectangles, while for things like game opening, ending, and main menu there's a flying view of the weird rectangles.
One might think presenting white text on a blue background would be a simple feat, but this game doesn't even get that quite optimal. The letters look like a font at a just-awkard size: Sometimes one letter's top will be slightly above the top of the letter next to it. Sometimes a letter with what should be a flat top (or side) will instead seem slightly crooked. It's mysterious. Really it's not a major deal since it's still quite readable, but since this game does a little bit of everything wrong it begged to be mentioned.
When providing an answer (or question, in this case), the method of presenting possible answers at first seems like a good, time-saving idea. However, it soon becomes clear that you can take advantage of this system if you're not sure of the answer. If you can remember a person's first name, typing that in should bring that person's name up as part of the list if they're the correct response. When for a "FISH" category I responded "Fishing for a compliment", one of the other options presented was "Fish and cut bait", which turned out to be a later answer in the same category. If you start answering something and your response doesn't come up as a choice, you automatically know your answer was wrong and you should try something else. However, it is possible to turn this option off, so if you really hate it it can be tossed out.
On the other hand, it can be too damn picky at times. When I was asked for the century the original Star Trek series took place in, "23" wasn't a good enough answer; it wanted "The 23rd century". When my brother answered about a flying barnyard animal with "pig", it wasn't accepted: the game wanted the answer "pigs". I answered about a river in London with "Thames", when it insisted that no, the correct response was "The Thames".
Even the Final Jeopardy! portion of the game is handled sloppily. It asks the other players to turn around while one player inputs their wager, then Alex tells when it's another player's turn. However, the dollar amount stays on screen a bit even after that announcement, so unless you're being extra extra careful you end up seeing their wagers anyway. Luckily the actual responses disappear before other players will see them. There's also the matter of music; though you have plenty of time to respond, the classic music used over that section is fairly short, so there's a lot of empty air time. It seems it would've been easy to get a longer loop of the song, and it can give a false message to new players that the person is done with their response.
The Bottom Line
There's fun to be had, especially if you're playing with a human opponent (or two) who is faced with the same problems and advantages you are. The game interface works against the goodness of the question/answers, though.