Bury the Shovelware: Deal or No Deal



To learn all there is about something, you sometimes need to go to the extremes. For shovelware, we are about to boldly trek into the eye of the storm. Deal or No Deal has the lowest aggregate score according to Metacritic, narrowly edging out Homie Rollerz. But we need to give it a fair chance. We can't succumb to the self-fulfilling prophecy. And besides, as a poster hanging in my high school English teacher's classroom profoundly stated, "what is right is not always popular, and what is popular is not always right." Indeed, just because one nerd hates Castlevania 2 doesn't mean you should automatically define it as a bad game. Okay, I can't fluff this anymore: Deal or No Deal for the DS isn't as crappy as you expected. It's crappier.
00:00:00 - The very first thing to load is a lengthy disclaimer informing the user that there is no money to be won. Seriously, Destination Software? Will the next Grand Theft Auto title inform me in-game that there are no real hookers to be beaten?

00:00:15 - My options: "TV Game," "Vault Game," and "High Low." Things are looking grim. I'll start with "TV Game."

00:00:24 - ROBO-MANDEL IS HUNGRY FOR BLOOD AND GAMES OF CHANCE! Indeed, the onscreen representation of Deal of No Deal host Howie Mandel is quite ... lumbering. For once, I would have rather suffered through a text introduction.

00:00:40 - "Now it's time to introduce you to my better half. Actually, 26 of my better halves!" Someone forgot to bring the funny. "First, we will choose a case. The bank will make you a deal ... " Yeah yeah, ROBO-MANDEL, we've all seen you stretch four minutes of content into a 30 minute television show. We understand how it works.

00:01:14 - I'm given the opportunity to choose a case. So I guess this is it. You know, I really should have thought this through. There can't be a game in here. This is drawing straws. This is picking cards out of a deck at random. This is asininity! Maybe the fun is hiding in one of the other options. Let's quit and check out "Vault Game."

00:01:20 - "You need to find the three cases (in the correct order) that unlock the vault door." So the gameplay here is to pick three of the 26 numbers, and if you're wrong, the game says "that is too high" or "that is too low." And that's it. SERIOUSLY?!

00:01:34 - The third and final option: "HIGH LOW." Maybe there's more to it than it sounds! Oh wait, there's less.

00:01:48 - And we have a new record.

One question that I've been pondering often throughout this series is "does the fault of shovelware lie more with the developer or the publisher?" Here, it's really hard to tell. The whole thing is such a boring, awful abomination that it's like trying to determine which driver was at fault in a car accident where the two cars burst into a gigantic flaming explosion and all that's left is a single pile of finely ground ashes. Maybe that's a bit extreme. The game isn't laughably awful, it's just lacking any kind of response at all. It's hideously boring. Indeed, the people who appear to be the most frustrated in life aren't the ones dealing with awful situations. Rather, it's the ones who experience a complete lack of passion and feeling from anything, good or bad. You know, I've tried to find something nice to say about all of the previous shovelware. In all honesty, it's really tough for Deal or No Deal. Ahmm ... perhaps it's good that they're using actual recordings of Howie Mandel? Err ... the game loaded on the first try? Ooh, I've got it: given the choice between playing Deal or No Deal or being stabbed in the eye, I would likely pick the former. That's as nice as it's going to get.

In gaming, the term shovelware refers to any game in which time and effort were eschewed in favor of turning a quick profit. Kaes Delgrego's Bury the Shovelware takes a closer look at these titles, typically those that inhabit the lower end of metascores. It attempts to: 1) find out where and how the developer went wrong 2) identify common traits present in most shovelware 3) measure how long the game can be suffered.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.