Gameloft's first WiiWare entry, TV Show King, might turn away most gamers with its casual premise and 1000 Wii Points tag, but the publisher has made an effort to pack value in the trivia title -- 3,000 questions, Mii integration, and a game show atmosphere complete with a smarmy host and a busty blonde. Is all that enough to warrant its $10 price? Read our review to find out!
TV Show King starts with you selecting one of your Miis as your game show character, which is a nice, albeit expected, touch. Perhaps to make sure everyone is the same height, though, the implanted characters all seem to share the same body type, ignoring those extra pounds you specified when originally creating your Notorious B.I.G. Mii. The game also pulls from your Mii collection for the remaining contestant spots (four in total) and rustles a group of your system's wandering avatars into the studio as the audience.
You're given limited settings to adjust before the game starts, which is probably best considering TV Show King's casual audience. You can mark the amount of rounds you want to play -- three, six, or nine -- and your desired difficulty -- Normal, King, or Genius. For the purposes of this review and to make sure we felt smart at the end of it, we left the settings at three rounds on the King difficulty.
Keeping with its game show theme, TV Show King begins with its spinning logo and a clapping DJ while the camera pans over the studio set and audience. A spotlight scans the crowd before calling down your Miis to the podiums, just like in The Price Is Right, though the game's soundtrack never ventures from its bland music into anything iconic.
The host, Jerry, an uninspiring man with unfortunate eyebrows, leads you into the first round of questions grabbed from a range of topics from entertainment to science. Players use their Wii remotes to point at and select the correct answer from four options as a 15-second timer counts down. You can see what other players have picked, but TV Show King makes up for it by rewarding more money to the players who first select the correct answer. Depending on your answer, a pleasant or discordant noise will play on your Wii remote's speaker to notify you if you're right or not.
After a few questions, Jerry introduces a "special event" in which, for the remainder of the round, the first player to answer a question correctly wins a significant cash bonus. Once the round's questions have been exhausted, players are invited to spin a wheel that can just as easily reward you with bonus money as it can leave you bankrupt.
The wheel will be a controversial point for many from the beginning. as it's never explained how to effectively spin the wheel. Some might feel the rewards and the risks are too much -- it's possible to win $15000 from a single spin. The wheel can also make you hand over a a sizable portion of your savings to one of your opponents. Even if you opt out of spinning the fortune wheel, there are spaces on the circle that allow other players to grab your cash. Some will welcome the break from TV Show King's formula, though, and it's an opportunity for lagging players to catch up.
The wheel spun and the damage done, the show's top-heavy presenter, Angela, directs you towards a board with the current rankings. Following that, you're taken through another similar round with the same "special event" and wheel-spinning.
The third round brings a random twist to how the answers are presented. Depending on which mode the game picks, Scratch Quiz or Light Quiz, players will have to scratch at buttons with their Wii remotes like a lottery ticket to uncover the answer underneath or use their controllers as flashlights to reveal the four options.
Once those shenanigans are out of the way, the two contestants with the highest cash count face off in a trivia duel. Whoever answers five questions correctly first steals half of the other player's money. Afterwards, all four players are ranked by how much cash was in their pot at the end of the game.
And that's TV Show King! There's also a single-player trivia mode that challenges you to answer as many consecutive questions correctly as you can, but it's hard to imagine anyone having fun playing this game without friends. Though your scores are tracked and saved, TV Show King doesn't offer any online features, so you won't be able to share any records with your crew of trivia-game-score-obsessed friends.
Where the game really suffers, though, is in its replayability. Even with its total of 3000 trivia questions, you've seen everything TV Show King has to offer in terms of presentation after two ten-minute playthroughs (which go by even quicker if you skip the segue cutscenes). More unique events, format variations, and an expanded audio track would have helped a lot to keep the rounds feeling fresh. Hearing Jerry's "Impressive!" compliments after each correctly answered question gets old quick.
Despite those flaws, is it worth the $10 Gameloft is asking for it? Only if you have a group of friends over who don't mind TV Show King's tiresome host and risking their earned lead to a wheel of chance.
Final Score: 6/10