Jeopardy! in Review – This… is… Jeopardy!

review-game-jeopardy-mainI’m a long-time Jeopardy! fan and so was excited to see Sony release it in the app store. Even if you don’t like the show, Jeopardy! is a great trivia game. From the opening screen where Johnny Gilbert announces “This is Jeopardy!” to the final Jeopardy! music track and and encouraging, cheering audience, this is a great Jeopardy! experience that thrills. When you first start the game, a big Jeopardy! sign pops up with smaller blue screens in the bottom. For those that don’t know (Bueller? … Bueller?), in Jeopardy! you are given a category (i.e. Medical, Movie Characters) and the “answer” (Robin Williams played this zany doctor), and your goal is to come up with the question (Who is Patch Adams?). So whenever I reference the “answer” in this review it’s really the question in the regular sense of the term and vice-versa.

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When you tap on the main screen you are taken to the main menu, which lists the following: Play, Career Stats, Options, Help, About, and More Games. Career Stats provides information about all played games, while Help gives information on Game Features, How To Play, and Controls. About gives a little info on the app (i.e. version number) and More Games takes you to the developer’s other apps. Options allows sound on/off toggle, avatar customization, signature (you get to put your own name in the blue marquee), and the option to reset the game or all stats.

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Avatar customization is extremely nice because there are many options to choose from. A slider allows option selections for: gender, skin color, hairstyle and color, clothing and glasses. You can also let the game create a random character for you.

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The marquee customization is also very nice. You get to sign your name and add anything else you want to it. A little rectangle in the lower left shows what it will look in the game (since it will be a lot smaller then). So now you too can have the complete Jeopardy! experience. This is a very small but very significant touch that shows extreme attention to detail. Sony’s got it right. If you select the Signature option once you have already completed one, you have to start from scratch. It would be great if you were able to modify existing marquees, but for now we will have wait for an update. Once you select Play from the main menu, you have the option of three difficulty levels or to play without computer players.

The main game area consists of three columns of five questions each, instead of the full six columns. This allows both the board and the three contestants to appear on the same screen, which is nice. The graphics are minimal but serviceable: Jeopardy! is not about flash, it’s about some good trivia playing. The other characters’ marquees are hand-written and animated, which is a nice touch. Another great detail occurs when a Daily Double appears – AI players throw up their hands up and cheer. There’s not much by the way of sounds and music during the game. Other than Final Jeopardy! there’s no music and unfortunately, no way to play your own music. There’s clapping and cheering, selection beeps and Final Jeopardy! music in game along with the familiar Jeopardy! theme at the title screen.

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Instead of coming up with a question, you are given three different questions to choose from. So you have a 33.33% chance of getting any question right. That means that if you are familiar with the subject, you should be able to raise your chance of answering correctly to 50%. They may have gone with this system to make it easier or because it was too difficult to implement a true show version. Maybe handwriting recognition is too hard to implement. And if you could type in the question, would it recognize that “What is Alamo” and “What is The Alamo” and “What is referred to as The Alamo” are all correct? Or how about “George Bush” vs. “George W. Bush” vs. “George Walker Bush”? In the first instance it’s a lot easier to say, “Please be more specific” in the show than it is in the game and brings up too many game design variables. This way works.

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It is disappointing that you don’t get the full game with all 30 answers especially when it wouldn’t be hard to design. Fortunately, true to the show, there is one daily double in the first round and two in the second but wager amounts differ from the TV version. On television, you can wager up to what you have earned so far, but in Jeopardy! for the iDevice, you can bet up to $1,000 for the first round and up to $2,000 in the second round, no matter if you have less or more than that. You can even go into the negative if you answer wrongly and have less than the amount wagered. In Final Jeopardy! you can bet up to your total earnings. When you answer a question, it shows you if it’s right or wrong and the amount lost or won. There’s also a nice Skip button in case you don’t want to bother with that question and just want to move on if no one else wants to answer it either.

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At the end of each game you get a summary of the results.

It would be great if this game had Multiplayer, either with the same device or with local WiFi or Internet multiplayer. Maybe there could be a buzzer button on each iPhone that you would have to press before the other players. It’d also be nice to have a mix of human and CPU opponents, that way you can have three contestants even if only two people are available to play.

The game is $5 which seems to be the most popular price point among big developers and it is definitely worth it at this price point because you can play Jeopardy! whenever and wherever you want to on your iDevice. It is true to the show, the questions are challenging, and there is a lot of customization available including the great custom marquee feature. Need I say more?

Jeopardy! gets Kissed by TouchMyApps!

This review was brought to you by guest TMA contributor GatorDeb

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App Summary
Title:Jeopardy! V 1.0.0Developer:Sony Pictures Television
Price:$4.99App Size:9.0 MB
  • Faithful to Jeopardy! TV show
  • Great presentation
  • Challenging, but accessible
  • Lots of questions
  • Cannot input questions but must rely on a shorter, 3 category only play round

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