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Deal or No Deal Package Art

Deal or No Deal

Most video games based on game shows have some merit in that there is a skill that a gamer needs to possess in order to succeed, like answering trivia questions in a Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?-type title. Deal or No Deal, much like its television counterpart, bucks that trend by letting gamers succeed on pure luck and odds. Unfortunately for anyone who picks this title up, the game's developers couldn't even get that part right, and the end result is a severely broken and boring video game.


Part of the allure of the television show this title is based on are the 26 beautiful women who accompany the briefcases on stage. Deal or No Deal the game completely dashes the hope for eye candy with faceless, generic looking figures who look like mannequins in dresses more than real women. The virtual representation of the game's host Howie Mandel is a blurry and robotic one, as Mandel only has two or three canned animations, and the texture work on his face makes him look like he isn't from this planet. To the game's credit, the dollar amounts and numbers on the briefcases are clear and legible, a necessity given that those numbers are the crux of the title.


Players will end up turning the volume all the way down on Deal or No Deal within a few minutes of playing the game. Show host Howie Mandel will repeat the same five or six bits of dialogue repeatedly during the game, and the introductory and concluding sound clips are the same every time you begin and end the game. The show's music loops endlessly when Mandel isn't talking, and the audience responses are bland and lack variety.


The basic premise of Deal or No Deal works like this: Players select one briefcase from the 26 on stage as their own, with each case containing anywhere from $.01 to $1,000,000. Gamers find out what is in their case by opening up the other cases left on stage. Every so often, Mandel will chime in with the help of a banker located off stage and make an offer to get players to stop playing the game. From there, players decide whether to accept the offer, or continue playing.

As far as the game mechanics go, the title is sound. Players can use either the d-pad or stylus to select their cases, and when they tire of hearing Mandel's voice, they can skip through cutscenes to speed up the game. The design of this game, however, is ultimately what ruins the fun of the game.

Part of what makes the television show succeed is that the cases are completely randomized -- any case could contain the grand prize at the beginning of every show. The problem with the video game is that the first game after every DS boot up puts the grand prize in the same briefcase. Every single time. Granted, it might take you awhile to figure out just what case it is that contains the big money, but it's really only a matter of time. Once you figure it out, you can turn off your DS, reboot it and start a fresh game knowing exactly where the million dollars lie. It appears that the developer only created a finite amount of patterns concerning the cases, and once you've played the game enough times you'll be able to crack the game provided you have a decent memory. It truly takes what little fun there was in the game when it's known that the game can't even randomize the cases properly.

Even if you can get past all the deficiencies in the game, you'll find there's little to look forward to. Obviously, if you happen to end up with the game's biggest prize, the real Howie Mandel won't be cutting you a check for $1,000,000 and sending it in the mail. Once you've accepted your first offer in the game or played it to the end to see what your case contained, there's very little reason to go back to the game other than to try and end up with a higher dollar amount. Had there been been some unlockables, like clips of the show or bios of the models featured in the television show, there might be some appeal in playing through the game again past the first half hour. In its current form, however, there is little replay value.


Deal or No Deal features two multiplayer modes, neither of which are particularly attractive for gamers to try out. One mode pits gamers against one another to see who can end with the best deal, while the other puts one gamer in the role of the banker that will make offers to the other gamer in an attempt to get him or her to end the game. Both are rather lame attempts at getting another player involved. Deal or No Deal allows two DS gamers to hook up over a local network, as the game does not utilize the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection.


Deal or No Deal is a game that is obviously trying to cash in on the strength of its license, but really just doesn't do the game show justice. The title's design is too flawed to recommend it for purchase, so make a deal with yourself and avoid buying this game.

final score 2.5/10

Staff Avatar Marco Halili
Staff Profile | Email
"Half of this game is 90% mental."

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