Wheel of Fortune is a popular TV game show in which contestants spin a wheel, buy letters, and attempt to solve a hangman-style puzzle. Ubisoft just brought the game to Xbox One with authentic gameplay, online multiplayer, and customizable characters.
Welcome to Wheel of Fortune
This version of Wheel of Fortune seems to come from Ubisoft's Hong Kong studio. Despite being a lower-budget downloadable title, it still captures most of the features you'd expect from a Wheel of Fortune videogame.
For instance, the studio, hosts, and contestants are all fully 3D – a significant step up over Jeopardy's minimal presentation. TV hosts Pay Sajak and Vanna White have been replaced by generic hosts. But they look OK, and you can even customize their outfits. Video segments from the show play when you start a game and when players win certain prizes. And of course, the wheel itself looks great.
Playing Wheel of Fortune
Wheel of Fortune offers four game modes: Classic, Quick, Family (with easier puzzles and longer timers), and Online. The offline modes support solo play and local multiplayer for up to three players. Each player must have their own controller. When playing with less than three players, the empty slots will be filled with AI players of customizable difficulty.
Classic mode works just like the show, with three toss-up rounds, four regular rounds, and a bonus round for the winner. All rounds feature word puzzles that start out blank and eventually get filled in by the host or players. The goal is to solve the puzzle by figuring out the words or names that it spells.
The toss-up round doesn't involve spinning the wheel. Instead, the hosts slowly reveal letters until no blank letters remain. Players can buzz in and attempt to solve the puzzle once enough letters have been revealed. The winner of the toss-up receives some money and gets to go first during the next round.
Regular rounds function like hangman, but with the addition of the wheel. The active player spins the wheel at the beginning of his or her turn. On Xbox One, the longer you hold the button, the harder you spin the wheel. As long as the wheel doesn't land on a harmful space, you then get to guess a consonant letter. If that letter appears in the puzzle, you earn money and get to spin again. You can also opt to spend a little money to buy a vowel.
At any point, the active player can choose to solve the puzzle. Do so correctly and you win the round, keeping the money earned. You can also win prizes like vacations and cars, though these don't have quite the same impact as they would if you won them in real life!
As you play Wheel of Fortune, you'll earn XP and eventually level up. Each time you do so, you'll unlock several customization items.
When starting the game, each player gets to customize their own 3D contestant. You only get two male and female bodies to choose from, though, with no control over body size and proportions. Still, skin and hair color can at least be adjusted. The game offers numerous clothing items (all with selectable colors), though most of these have to be unlocked over time.
The set itself is customizable as well, with several studios, puzzle boards, center screens, stages, and decorations to unlock. The male and female host also have a total of four outfits each to choose from. And you can choose which prizes are winnable during the game itself.
Jeopardy's online multiplayer was functional, but a few design decisions made it difficult to find a game. Sadly, Wheel of Fortune's online setup is even worse.
It starts out promising, with online Classic, Quick, and Private options. The less matchmaking queues in a game like this, the better. After searching for a game and failing to find one, you'll host your own lobby. But if nobody joins your lobby (and again, you need three players) after a couple of minutes, the game kicks you, the host, out of the lobby!
Thus you can't even sit in a lobby and wait for other players. Everyone would have to be searching for a game at the same time in order to get a public match going. That's an absolutely terrible decision on the developer's part, basically dooming Wheel of Fortune's online mode to private matches only.
This version of Wheel of Fortune is surprisingly robust, with a great 3D recreation of the TV studio set, completely authentic gameplay that anyone should be able to play, and some fair customization options. The only drawback is the terrible online matchmaking setup. But Wheel of Fortune is plenty of fun to play solo or with local friends, so don't let the online woes keep you from spinning that wheel.
- Great 3D reproduction of the TV show.
- Customize your contestant, the hosts, and even the studio itself.
- A fun word game to play solo or with friends.
- Online multiplayer's design makes it nearly impossible to find matches.
- Hosts Pat Sajak and Vanna White are MIA, replaced by generic hosts.
Wheel of Fortune costs $19.99 on Xbox One and PlayStation 4. It can also be purchased in a bundle with Jeopardy!, as America's Greatest Game Shows, both digitally and at retail for $39.99.
- See Wheel of Fortune on the Microsoft Store
- See America's Greatest Game Shows on the Microsoft Store
- See America's Greatest Game Shows on Amazon
Xbox One review copy provided by the publisher.
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