REVIEWS -- Price is Right (The) -- Wii
The Price is Right for the Wii recreates the joyful TV show and adds a few bugs
by Eric Silva
Fun factor: Fun
Worth to: Rent
Everybody’s favorite one-hour game show comes to the Wii, and despite some glaring flaws and annoyances, it manages to capture the show’s atmosphere
The Price is Right isn’t very sophisticated, but then neither is the actual CBS show. The Wii interpretation of the classic game show has its moments and actually does a good job recreating the joyful atmosphere, despite a few bugs and annoyances. Not featuring its greatest host, Bob Barker, or even Drew Carry, hurts a bit, but the game still manages to give loyal fans enough to keep them busy through the weekends when the show isn’t on air. Best of all, it’s so simple even your grandma can play it.
Reviewing a game based on a game show requires some understanding. Obviously rules and traditions have to be considered, but also the creative restraints designers have to put up with while designing such a title. The Price is Right does not reinvent the show, and rightfully so, but it did have to change some of the rules.
Sorry, you lose… but don’t worry, you still win!
Failing to win the Contestant’s Row can’t leave players stranded watching a computer player have fun, so to counter this problem Ludia designed a three strikes system. A strike is given each time a game, any game, is failed. The system lets players keep playing as long as they don’t get three strikes. In the original TV show a contestant can fail to get on stage a maximum of six times. In the Wii version, losing in the Contestant’s Row gives you a strike but still lets you get on stage to play a Pricing Game, which is a bit weird.
The goal in The Price is Right is to accumulate as much money as possible. One can go through an entire show from Contestant’s Row to the Showcase, win the whole enchilada and return back to Contestant’s Row for another run with the same initial three strikes. Again, it’s a bit weird, but in the end, we are not really bringing any of the winnings home so what’s the point stopping after winning the Showcase? Regardless, getting on stage after failing in Contestant’s Row feels like some sort of sacrilege. A separate strike system just for the Contestant’s Row would have done a better job and felt more natural, and probably appeased the Price is Right Gods watching from above. An option to play with the original game show rules wouldn’t have hurt either.
Why are all pretty people on TV?
The game opted to show clips of prizes from real shows instead of animating the entire thing in 3D (and thankfully so). When a set (or curtain… whatever you call those psychedelic plastic doors) opens revealing a prize we see a large TV screen with a clip featuring Barker’s Beauties. Clips in the form of TV screens are also placed in strategic locations during product descriptions. The effect is quite seamless and gives players the impression they are watching the actual show.
The only 3D animated characters in the game are the contestants - all four of them. Ludia covered four of its largest fan groups by having a soldier, an old lady, an African American woman and the class-skipping, ravioli eating college student (the blond type) as playable characters. Sorry Ludia, you got lazy there. Four, ugly characters with bad animation is all we got? The blond kid flaps like a chicken when he gets happy, the soldier scratches profusely like he’s got fleas and the black woman looks like a frog puppet with a hand up her you-know-what or better yet, like a Gorn*. The old lady only looks normal because she doesn’t do much. The crowd is also comprised of a handful of characters, except Ludia had the decency to blur them out.
But that’s not why we’re playing The Price is Right. We want to play the games! Truth be told, Pricing Games are very realistic, all 16 of them. Each one is faithful to the TV show, probably because they are “games” after all, and prizes show clips from the actual game show. We get to see real products with real brand names. The clips also let the Beauties do what they do best: be pretty. Announcer Rich Fields does all the announcing, which is a huge plus.
Bugs, annoyances and random weirdness
The game seems rushed in some aspects, though. For starters, the Big Wheel is unintuitive. Players can’t vary the strength of the spin. Also, games don’t show the prices were when you lose. In Cliffhangers, for instance, once your “Austrian” falls off you are never showed the last price. And sometimes you hear the actual contestant screaming while playing a Pricing Game. Sounds weird when you’re a female character and you hear a male yelling (sounds effects are taken from the actual show).
The game uses some sort of randomness engine to make things interesting but sometimes that feature comes back to haunt it. After beating your opponents in the Showcase Showdown your ugly rivals still appear at the Showcase, but with a different name (huh?). The random names can produce some strange results, like the old lady being called Latisha and the African American woman named Abigail…
The announcer freaks out over the smallest number in the Showcase Showdown whenever someone spins first. The engine was probably told to use the “expressive” number announcement when someone lands on the highest number, so Rich Fields will always go “NUMBER 10!!!” if you get it on the first spin. Furthermore, not having won anything - and we mean nothing, since you get on stage even when you fail in the Contestant’s Row - you can still end up in third spot in the Showcase Showdown. To make matters worse, products repeat after only playing a few times. And when everybody goes over in the Contestant’s Row, they don’t tell you what the lowest price was, which is traditionally reminded by the game show host.
It’s not all bad though. The game keeps most of the traditions from the show, like the order of removing shells in the Shell Game. Sets are very realistic, especially the Big Wheel. The final showcases have themes like on TV and there are plenty of them to keep things fresh. There’s an “achievements menu” that lets you play each game at will once you have unlocked all of them. Finally, NPC characters make realistic bids. Sometimes characters bid too high, sometimes too low, and yes, you will see the occasional $1 bid in Contestant’s Row.
In all, The Price is Right could have done more things “right” but it also could have really screwed things up too, but didn’t. The game does convey the same exciting game show atmosphere thanks to realistic music, sound effects, games and rules. A few liberties here and there were taken to make a better transition to the video game platform. Some of those liberties feel a little weird but they don’t detract from the overall experience. The bugs, omissions, lack of characters and weird randomness bugs do hurt the game however. Ludia could have done more but got lazy, so the title’s $40 price isn’t “right”. It’s too high for what you end up getting.
* Gorn n: slow-moving, cold-blooded, hissing, violent, lizard humanoid with subhuman strength from the Stark Trek series. Captain James T. Kirk first fought a Gorn after being sent to an unknown planet by the Metrons in episode 19 – The Arena, 1967. It is believed that Veridian III, the planet on which Captain Picard and Captain Kirk fought Dr. Tolian Soran in Star Trek: Generations, was the same planet Kirk fought the Gorn in The Arena.
Release Date: September 9, 2008
Review Date: 23-09-2008
Numbers of Players: 1-4
Players Online: No
Ugly 4 characters with bad animation to chose from but sets and games look realistic, especially the Big Wheel. Nothing special though
Getting on stage after losing in Contestant's Row never feels right, but all the games are true to their roots and easy to play
Same good old intro and smart move to include clips from the actual TV show. Announcer Rich Fields is there announcing, but more could have been done
Same sounds, same music, same announcer, but no Bob Barker or Drew Carrey. The replacement host does a good job though
Not enough extras but if the TV show managed to last over 52 years and counting, this game will have you coming back for more, guaranteed