The Pat is back.
As one of – if not – the most beloved game show hosts in recent television history, Sajak has made the transition from Wheel of Fortune host on the boob tube to his own game on the PC screen. Not a bad way to celebrate his 60th birthday this month.
An original concept, Pat Sajak’s Trivia Gems borrows elements from other TV game shows, but in the end, comes off as a fresh trivia experience — despite so-so graphics and a music soundtrack that makes you want to stick knitting needles in your ears.
Pat Sajak’s Trivia Gems is a computer game show that stars you as a contestant looking to take home some cold cash. Unlike Wheel of Fortune, this game is all about correctly answering multiple choice trivia questions in a handful of categories. The screen resembles a 3-D pyramid, built with cubes of a different color. You first choose a game token (such a cat, dog, candy or ring) and start at the bottom of the pyramid. After correctly answering questions, you work your way up to the top spot (dubbed the Power Gem). Each colored cube on the pyramid represents a different category. For example, blue is TV Sitcoms, pink is Religion, red is Pop Culture, and so on. This way, the player can analyze the pyramid and work out the best path to the top given their individual strengths. But if you don’t correctly answer questions you may be forced to hop on a cube you don’t particularly want.
Now, the game works like this: after landing on a cube, players are presented with three individual questions. For instance, for the Ad Slogans Old & New category, you may be asked to choose the product that fits the ad slogan. Is “Crave the Wave” for Chicken of the Sea, Ocean Spray or Toni Home Permanent? (Answer is Ocean Spray). Another is “Raising the Bar”: is this for T-Mobile, Verizon or Cingular? (Answer: Cingular). Some questions may be of the True or False variety. You only have 60 seconds to select answers with your mouse for all three questions.
But herein lies the twist: for each of the three questions, you must wager how much you want to bet that you know the correct answer. A slider bar on the side of the screen lets you choose from being unsure (“No Idea”) to possibly (“Maybe Yes, Maybe No”) to for sure (“It’s a Lock”), and a few others in between. Each wager choice has a dollar amount associated with it; the more confident you are, the more money you’ll wager. But if you don’t get the answer right, the amount gets deducted from your overall total.
As you can guess by this game description, the multiple choice answers resemble Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, while the wagering component feels like Final Jeopardy! But the many questions – more than 7,500 in fact – pyramid hopping and comments from Pat as the host gives this game a fresh feel.
While you’re climbing to the top of the pyramid, you’ll have the chance to win extra cash by playing bonus mini-games, such as Pat’s Brain Buster and Pat’s Gem of a Question, each with a slightly different spin on asking trivia questions (we don’t want to give it all away, you know). Once you reach the Power Gem, players will not only see their high score (dollar total) but also stats such as longest streak (mine was 7 correct answers in a row), percentage of right answers (e.g. 65 percent) and IQ Rank (overall rating).
Along with the main single-player mode, called Trivia Gems, the game offers two other main modes: Trivia 10 (a quick game of 10 randomly assigned trivia questions on one screen) and Trivia Players, for up to three friends to compete against one another on the same computer.
The main beefs with the game lie in its production values. The visuals aren’t anything to write home about (yes, I know it’s a trivia game), but I would prefer higher-resolution graphics and sharper colors (also, something about seeing Pat’s face at every turn also turned me off). Secondly, the music is absolutely horrible. Fortunately you can turn it off.
Overall, Pat Sajak’s Trivia Gems is a slightly-above-average game that will likely be successful because, well, it’s Pat. While the game obviously borrowed elements from other trivia shows, it still proves to be a fun diversion for trivia buffs.