“I’m sorry… I don’t speak Japanese.”
-Chris Farley, SNL
Remember when everyone had a Nintendo Wii? Sure you do. There’s no point in lying about it. We’ve all moved on from that relationship, but every house had one. Even grandma had one, under the pretense that it was for the grandkids when they came to visit. I’ll bet she played No More Heroes when the fam wasn’t around.
Everyone wants to just pretend like it never happened. We were all under the spell of motion controls but the inevitable breakup was one of the best things to ever happen to us. And now there’s a review like this to remind you about that bad romance!
TV Show King is a game show video game for up to four players, represented by your Miis. Beyond being a great game to show off your Michael Jackson and Arnold Schwarzenegger Miis, this game is fun to just toss on the tele on a whim and play a few rounds with your intellectual friends after the party dies down.
It originally released as digitally downloadable WiiWare, though it’s also available on iPhone and PS3 for those who couldn’t move on. As for the Wii version, Nintendo’s all-white step into irrelevance was built on the backs of party games, emphasizing simplistic multiplayer with its skittish controls. TV Show King was no exception.
You’ve got a few selections on the main menu. Options is pretty sparse and Records just lets you view which Miis made the most cash in previous playthroughs. I had to ask myself “What is Quiz Attack?” when putting together this review. I’d never touched it. That’s because it is a single-player all-or-nothing mode where you answer as many questions as you can correctly as the difficulty continues to rise. Your first inaccurately answered question equals a game over.
The main draw of course is the main mode. Up to four players select their Mii and then enter the game show where the goal is to earn as much cash as they can by answering trivia questions correctly. You get to pick the length of the game show with 3, 6 or 9 rounds and you can choose from three levels of difficulty with Genius being the hardest.
The game show is hosted by Jerry, a freaky eyed robot with caffeinated eyebrows and a rictus grin, and his walking mammary glands Jessica. Or was it Ashley? Angela? …Bambi? Jerry explains what’s happening during the game and Bambi just struts around waving her tiny T-Rex arms at the scoreboard.
There are random categories for the trivia such as History & Geography, Science, and Sports… though I really wish they’d left that one out. How am I supposed to know who the first woman midget bagpipe player was in the World Series 2.5 Open of Bjornberg in 1588BC? Even if you manage to get an Entertainment question, you might be a little hard pressed to recall to mind what a certain characters’ mothers’neighbors’ hair color was from Grey’s Anatomy. And there’s not enough time on the clock to Google!
Every question is multiple choice with four possible answers. Move the Wii remote to hover over your answer and then press A to pick it. If more than one player clicks on the same correct answer then the player who selected it first gets the largest chunk of the prize money.
Between rounds of trivia, Jerry will ask you if you want to spin the wheel. This is a good idea in the first few rounds of the game show since you have more to win and less to lose, but never spin the wheel in the last rounds. The wheel is out to get you. The wheel watches you while you sleep. The wheel is every evil artificial intelligence from every movie ever. The wheel will straight shank you.
It’s surprisingly disheartening losing cash considering you’re not really taking home $40k every time you play.
The last set of rounds try to mix things up with a scratch n’ sniff homage requiring you to reveal the answers by waving your Wii remote cursor over them. After that is a final mode where you have to find the hidden answers by shining a flashlight over them, again courtesy of the motion controls.
The two players with the most money, human or computer-controlled, will make it into the finals where there’s a standoff between the two of them. First player to answer five questions correctly wins half of their opponents money and gets to stand in first place on a pedestal. Congratulations! You won TV Show King! Now turn off your Nintendo Wii and realize that you’re still poor.
The 8-bit Review
The graphics have aged so-so with the Miis particularly looking blander than ever. This was 2008 and far more visually interesting games were going to be released on the Wii other than TV Show King, such as Monster Hunter Tri. TV Show King is brightly colored and as flashy as any game show but there’s little variety to the lights and action. Worst visuals in the game have to be Jerry’s face. He looks a like reanimated corpse sometimes, his facial muscles pulling out of sequence as he tries to formulate words, grinning, always grinning. Sometimes you see it in your sleep.
Jerry’s sultry voice isn’t so bad. He’s no swooner but at least he’s got enthusiasm. The in-universe game show has one theme that plays throughout. As suspected, I didn’t find anyone on YouTube who uploaded the soundtrack from this game. You’ll just have to play the game to hear it yourself. It’s not so obnoxious that it becomes tiresome, while at the same time not being anything to write home about.
As far as game show, this one isn’t too gimmicky. It sticks to a standard formula firmly. With only three difficulty settings and no way to change up the scratch n’ sniff and flashlight reveal modes, to say nothing of the trivia categories, the gameplay gets bland pretty fast. No one’s expected to play TV Show King for 100+ hours but playing any more than two or three rounds is going to turn it into a drag fast. That is, unless you’re playing with some really energetic and competitive friends.
And that is when TV Show King goes for insane fun. I’ve played half a dozen games with the right people and it can be a yelling, screaming blast. It’s what you bring to the game which really makes it fun. The game itself is just a good platform for the multiplayer action but you’ve got to select the right players to invite over for some couch co-op.
Speaking of multiplayer, there was one time we really got into this game. And I mean really. The competitive spirit was so high, we were climbing all over the couch, running around trying to grab the other players’ controllers out of their hands so they couldn’t answer the questions correctly. Bear in mind I was in my late twenties at the time.
So it happened as we were wrestling over a Wii party game that a friend of mine got up onto my shoulders and was reaching down trying to grab my controller, when I did what I thought was the best thing I could do in that situation and threw myself backward. I ended up slamming him into the wall and his butt left an indelible impression in the dry wall. Picture proof:
Lesson learned, NPCs. Play with fire, you get burned. Play TV Show King with best friends, you get to post the indentations of their honey-baked online, complete with dollar bill for scale.
TV Show King is built with accessibility in mind, given it’s a game meant for groups at parties to play whenever the bite hits. The tutorials are short and you easily learn what to do in a few moments. If you lose all your money, it won’t be because you don’t know how to play. It’ll be because you spun the wheel like a moron.
The greatest challenges in the game come from some of the odd-ball “Genius” level questions. And you’ll inevitably hear someone bemoan: “Where’s my finger?!” Ah, those good ol’ motion controls….
To this day Tv Show King is one of my more often played Wii games, best enjoyed in small helpings. The game show itself isn’t hugely addictive and its solo mode is lackluster but it has the accessibility and variety in its trivia to make for a good time every once in a blue moon. With over 3000 possible questions they can ask you, at least you won’t run across the same one every time you play.
Believe it or not, TV Show King wasn’t even the only game show video game released on the Wii. You’ve still got all the other milquetoast adaptations of then popular game shows on actual TV. The Wii just attracted these sort of forgettable party games and while TV Show King is one of the better ones in my opinion, it’s still not the most memorable game nor the most unique.
My Personal Grade: 6/10
I keep my multiplayer games at the front of my mind in case we host a friendsgiving or weekend BBQ and the conversation dies down. Played with the right people, TV Show King can be a lot of fun. It’s a great opportunity to remind your friends you’re stupid.
Just don’t expect a masterpiece. It seems weird reviewing a slightly above average game again, but not every video game out there can be one which changed the industry forever (like Pac-Man) or one which is undeniably a work of art (like Abzû). But these kind of games need to exist, if only to fill the niche of fun that exists after everyone’s just lying on the couch after dindin.
Aggregated Score: 6.3