Review: America’s Greatest Game Shows: Wheel of Fortune & Jeopardy (Switch)

Wholesome fun with some hiccups.

By Marc Deschamps. Posted 12/14/2018 06:00 Comment on this     ShareThis
The Final Grade
1-Up Mushroom for...
Great for families; Jeopardy uses the format well while staying faithful to the show; multiplayer support with a single pair of Joy-Cons
Poison Mushroom for...
Wheel of Fortune look and runs like an outdated Wii game

When I was a kid, my mom bought my sister and me a copy of Wheel of Fortune on N64. It wasn’t something either of us had asked for on that particular shopping trip, and it wasn’t a show that regularly aired in our household. Maybe it was on deep discount, or maybe mom just thought it would be something innocent she could get my sister and me to play together. Regardless, the game found its way into our collection and it did prove to be a fun, occasional distraction. America’s Greatest Game Shows brings together Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy in one Switch cartridge. While it’s not a perfect compilation, it does prove to be the kind of innocent outing families can be happy to have around the house.

Right from the start, America’s Greatest Game Shows proves to be a rather unique cart. Rather than accessing the two games from one, in-game menu, placing the cartridge inside the system prompts icons for both Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy to jump on to the Home screen. Of all the physical releases I’ve played on Switch, I’ve never once seen a compilation do this before. On one hand, it does make for easier access when you just want to play one game or the other, on the other hand, it does make flipping through the two games a slight bit more time consuming. It doesn’t actually impact the games either way, but it did seem to foreshadow the disjointed nature of this compilation.

Wheel of Fortune, in a lot of ways, is a faithful recreation of its source material: three contestants spin the wheel, choose letters and attempt to solve each puzzle. One issue my sister and I frequently encountered with the aforementioned N64 version of Wheel of Fortune was a lack of puzzle variety: once we’d played the game a handful of times, we started seeing the same puzzles start to crop up again and again. Thankfully, in my playthroughs of the Switch version, I never found this to be the case. There seemed to be a good variety of different puzzles and there were some really unique ones, as well.

Unfortunately, Wheel of Fortune’s faithfulness to the source material isn’t always a good thing. There are several inclusions, particularly in regards to the game’s prizes, that just don’t make a whole lot of sense to include in a video game. With a game like this, what extra bragging rights over friends or family members do you get if you win a fake “Cruise Ship Trip” or “Half a Car?” On the show, these are tangible things that the competitors, of course, want to win. In a video game, the inclusion is a bit mystifying.

There’s no option to turn off these “prizes,” but players can tailor them to their liking: instead of winning a fake cruise, it can be a trip to France, or Egypt. Instead of a car, players can compete for an SUV. In fact, the game offers a plethora of options to customize not only the prizes, but their avatar and the game’s appearance, as well. Players can even change the suit and dress worn by “Male Host” and “Female Host,” respectively, as Pat Sajak and Vanna White’s likenesses haven’t been lent to this particular version. Unfortunately, no amount of customization could ever make any of the characters in Wheel of Fortune look any less generic.

These are mostly minor gripes, but a more notable problem I encountered with Wheel is the fact that the game just doesn’t run all that smoothly. Everything just feels a bit choppy as the game chugs along. I never encountered any crashes or significant issues, but the game looks and feels like a ten-year-old Wii game, in a number of ways. Between the game’s longer load times, cheap graphics and even the unnecessary (though optional) waggle controls, the game just never feels like a 2018 Switch release should.

Where Wheel of Fortune strives for accuracy, Jeopardy embraces a different approach. The game is still faithful to the show’s core concept, but the developer clearly attempted to make it work within the format of a video game. The result is a more stripped down approach: there’s no placeholder for Alex Trebek (can you even have a placeholder for Alex Trebek?), no ridiculous avatars and no fake TV sets or nonsensical winnings. Instead, the game plays closer to the type of trivia challenge you would find in some bars or in a Dave & Buster’s location, and it’s honestly all the better for it. It might not be the most thrilling visual approach in the world, but it’s far more appealing than Wheel of Fortune’s presentation.

Having never played a video game version of Jeopardy, I was curious to see how the game would handle the way questions are answered. After all, contestants on the show don’t get multiple choice answers. While multiple choice is unavoidable (granting each player at least a 25 percent chance of getting the answer right), the game does throw up a roadblock to prevent players from taking advantage: the multiple choice options don’t appear until after the player buzzes in. It might seem like a minor inclusion, but it keeps the game’s focus on knowledge, rather than luck.

Jeopardy’s developers have clearly paid attention to other trivia options on the market, giving players an experience that feels like Jeopardy, but doesn’t feel constrained by the limits of the show. The game impressively tracks each player’s stats, including number of correct answers, average response time, favorite categories and more. There are also daily challenges to partake in. Finally, the more you play, the more categories and questions that are unlocked, adding a bit more replay value.

While the two games on display are significantly different in many ways, they do share some good commonalities between them. Both titles offer multiplayer support with a single pair of Joy-Cons, making it easier to play with a roomful of people. Wheel of Fortune actually takes it a step further, allowing three people to play with just a single Joy-Con. Both games also offer Quick Play experiences, allowing for matches that last in the 10-20 minute ballpark, enhancing the game’s pickup-and-play nature.

Like that N64 Wheel of Fortune game of my youth, America’s Greatest Game Shows isn’t anything to write home about. While Jeopardy offers a fairly strong trivia option for Nintendo’s handheld hybrid, Wheel of Fortune is a bit of a quick cash-in that feels a generation or two behind the curve. But, if you’re a diehard fan of either of these shows or you’re just looking for an innocent game for the family to play, you could do a whole lot worse than America’s Greatest Game Shows.

Nintendojo was provided a copy of this game for review by a third party, though that does not affect our recommendation. For every review, Nintendojo uses a standard criteria.

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