Gameshows often make fine videogames, allowing players to actively participate in the same shows they already enjoy on TV. Ubisoft just brought Jeopardy! to Xbox One, featuring the classic TV gameplay, online multiplayer, and two new game types.
There have been many game adaptations of Jeopardy!, including a solid Xbox 360 version. This new version seems to be poised as a low-budget downloadable title, excluding some of the bells and whistles you might expect from a Jeopardy! videogame.
For instance, a female announcer reads the category names at the start of the game. There's no Alex Trebek, and no reading the questions out loud. Worse, some of the sound effects, like buzzing in and Daily Double, don't match those of the show. Thankfully, you get to hear the iconic Jeopardy! theme before starting a game.
Presentation issues aside, this Jeopardy! has a good metagame to help keep players coming back. Win or lose, you earn experience that contributes towards your overall level. You also gain XP in the individual categories of questions you answered correctly. Level them up high enough, and you'll unlock new categories (which can also be leveled) for future games. The game tracks your stats across every mode.
Jeopardy! offers four game modes: Classic, Family, Daily Challenge, and Online. Classic and Family both support solo play and local multiplayer for up to three players. Each player must have his or her own controller. When playing with less than three players, the empty slots will be filled with AI players of customizable difficulty.
Classic mode is the traditional Jeopardy! with three rounds, the first two consisting of six categories of five clues each. The final round is called Final Jeopardy and allows players to bet it all on a single question. During normal rounds, the current active player selects a category and dollar value for a clue, and then the first person to buzz in gets a shot at answering the question.
To buzz in, you just hit the button on your controller before everybody else – but buzzing in before the timer starts will temporarily disable your buzzer. The one downside to this setup is the question doesn't get read aloud, so everyone just stares at the text for a while before the buzz icon appears and they can start trying to answer.
Instead of spelling out an answer, you simply select from three possible answers. That has a dramatic effect on difficulty compared to real-life Jeopardy, but it's still a good compromise for a videogame. And the questions in Classic are usually quite tough, even with three answers to choose from.
If you're playing with trivia novices or children, Family mode is the way to go. The questions are markedly easier than Classic mode, to the point where an average adult should know the answer more than half of the time. This might be too easy with a group of smarties, but the younger crowd will certainly enjoy it.
Both Family and Classic offer the choice of Quick Mode. When selected, the board only offers four categories and three clues per category, for a total of 18 questions per round instead of 30. This is a great option when you're in a hurry or hunting Achievements.
This single-player mode will have you stopping by to play every day, at least until you get the Achievement for winning 10 days in a row.
Before the game begins, you'll select six categories from a pool of 12. You must then try to answer those six questions as they are presented rapid-fire in a row. Pausing to search the web for the answers won't work, because the timer keeps going while paused!
This is a fun, quick way to enjoy Jeopardy. After the game ends, you have to wait for the next day to give it another shot.
Jeopardy! offers online multiplayer. It's a great feature, but it's hard to find a game due to some bad design decisions.
First, even when selecting Quick Match, you still have to choose between Classic and Quick modes. That divides up the player base because there's no indication of which category has open games or not.
After searching for a game and failing to find an open one, you have the option of creating your own game. Problem is, you need three players to actually start a game. I sat in a lobby for an hour and never got three players together – the second person always gave up and quit before a third player came along.
Ironically, should someone drop out during an online game, the host has the choice of substituting AI players in the missing spot(s). If you could just start online games with two warm-blooded players and an AI player, it'd be significantly easier to find online games.
Developer Frima Studio (makers of the excellent co-op puzzle platformer Chariot) doesn't seem to have anticipated these matchmaking issues, sadly. You can still start a private game with two friends who own Jeopardy, but that's a lot more trouble than being able to join and play public games in a reasonable time frame.
Overall impression of Jeopardy! for Xbox One
Jeopardy! is a decent adaptation of the popular game show. It doesn't have the production values and eye for detail to fully capture the TV experience, but it's still fun as a multiplayer trivia game. Other than online matchmaking issues, the only major problem is value. Jeopardy! sells for $20, but for $5 more you could get any of the Jackbox Party Pack games – and they're all miles better than this one in production value and volume of content. Dedicated fans of the game show will still enjoy Jeopardy! at full price, but casual fans will probably want to wait for a sale.
- Play classic Jeopardy as well as other fun modes.
- You can play solo or with friends in multiplayer.
- Leveling system encourages players to come back for more.
- Presentation doesn't look or sound like Jeopardy!
- Online multiplayer is a ghost town due to design mistakes.
- Overpriced when compared against other trivia games.
Jeopardy! costs $19.99 on Xbox One and PlayStation 4. It can also be purchased in a bundle with Wheel of Fortune (see our review) in the America's Greatest Game Shows pack, both digitally and at retail, for $39.99.
- See Jeopardy! at Microsoft Store
- See America's Greatest Game Shows at Microsoft Store
- See America's Greatest Game Shows on Amazon
Xbox One review copy provided by the publisher.
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