Wheel of Fortune: Terrible N64 Game of the Day #1

Wheel of Fortuna on the Nintendo 64
Indeed.

For all the amazing games on the Nintendo 64, there were also some really weird ones. Such as bizarre attempts to recreate popular American quiz shows.

Wheel of Fortune on the N64

It’s fair to say N64 Magazine absolutely thrashed this one back in 1997. The staff handed it a meagre 17%.

It’s also fair to say this title isn’t a good demonstration of what video games can achieve. Not good news for developer Take-Two Interactive.

From Take-Two Interactive, you only have to look at the animations of Vanna White as she staggers about to realise this production went badly.

It wasn’t unusual for quiz show games to exist. And, in fact, in Earthworm Jim 2 there was a satirical take on how cheesy that type of TV can be.

Wheel of Fortune turned up on the SNES, Mega Drive, Game Gear, PlayStation, and Sega Saturn. So, developers thought there was demand for this stuff.

As why in the name of crap bags wouldn’t you want to play this!?

We had Wheel of Fortune in the UK, too, we think Les Dennis presented it. Also, Tony Wilson of 24 Hour Party People had a brief period on it (for some reason).

One thing we’ll say about this Nintendo 64 game is the spinning wheel graphics are pretty cool. Well smooth and precise.

And this title did mark the very first time FMV (full-motion video) appeared on the console. With its cartridges, the Nintendo 64 had less memory to play around with than the likes of the PlayStation, so couldn’t normally accommodate it.

Some of the gaming press picked that up. Otherwise, the reviews were dismal. Anyway, for the sake of clarity and fairness we’ll explain what it’s about.

On the show, contestants spin the wheel and then enter a Hangman scenario (the paper and pencil guessing game).

So, they sort of have to guess what a term might be as it appears on screen.

Simple but effective viewing for the good folks of the world. Quite why you’d want to turn that into a video game we’re not sure (other than to cash in). The problems are as follows:

  • The game looks awful (to the point of distraction).
  • It apparently moves at a snails pace.
  • It’s pretty dysfunctional.
  • The sound effects are atrocious.
  • It’s no fun.

Altogether, then, we must repeat—why was this ever a Nintendo 64, PlayStation, SNES, Sega CD, or PS3 game?! Well, thanks to a longstanding tradition of cashing in!

A History of Wheel of Fortune Games

From 1987 up until 1997, the developer Sharedata worked on various adaptations at the behest of publisher GameTek (who had the official rights to the show).

Take-Two Interactive went on to acquire those in 1997.

But for the preceding decade, Sharedata and GameTek bombarded the gaming world with adaptations. This included on the Commodore 64 in 1987.

For the NES version of the game, the delight of creating the project went to industry legend Rare. Lucky them.

At the time, the developer in Twycross had landed the likes of Knight Lore on the world in 1984. That was when Rare went by the name of Ultimate Play the Game.

For a period on the NES, it became something of a shovelware developer—pelting out content rapidly in the name of cash.

GameTek’s Wheel of Fortune obsession rumbled onto the SNES, Mega Drive, and Game Gear. This is where things started going a bit weird.

For the SNES version, the total lack of any music or sound effects is a bit creepy.

Quite why you’d leave such atmospheric inclusions out we don’t know, but clearly developer Sharedata thought it was for the greater good.

Don’t think it ends in the 1990s, though, as the ongoing popularity of Wheel of Fortune as a TV Show is unstoppable.

It began in 1975 and runs to this day. That’s led to some 7,000 episodes—the longest running syndicated show in American history.

As such, there are always new opportunities to cash in off that! With Ubisoft creating new titles for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in 2017.

Glorious, eh? We’re sure you’re all rushing out your front door right now to get your hands on this son of a gun.

No need, fool! You can download it in digital form. Do so. And forever hold your peace.

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