Casual gamer, come on down! You’re the next contestant on The Price is Right. Yep, one of the most popular television game shows has gone interactive with Ludia’s first computer game offering, The Price is Right, that looks and plays like the real deal – though without Drew Carey or Bob Barker.
As you’d expect from a game like The Price is Right, you first choose a contestant and give him or her a name. You can’t create your own but can choose from one of four characters (two males, two females). After typing in your name, the camera pans across the overly excited audience and naturally, you’ve been picked to "come on down" to be a contestant.
Similar to the TV show, the goal of the game is to win as much money and prizes as you can before getting three red strikes.
Contestant’s Row is the first part of the game, where you and three other contestants must guess the price of a product without going over; whoever gets closest to the actual price gets to jump onstage and partake in three other games. For example, if you guess $500 for a patio heater from Desa – and yes, these are all real-world products in this game – and the actual price is $525, you’ll likely win.
If you win Contestant’s Row you get to play one of 16 different pricing games, ripped right out of the television show, such as Cliff Hangers, Punch-A-Bunch, Hole In One, Range Game, Master Key, Push Over, Freeze Frame, and so on. Most of these challenge you to guess the real price of a real product – like Scott’s bathroom tissue paper or a Ghirardelli chocolates collection – with some slight variation. In Plinko, for example, you must guess if the left or right number in a two-digit price for a product is (e.g. $35) correct; then you get to drop coins down a Plinko board and hope it falls into the $10,000 slot instead of the $0 slot.
After you win a pricing game you can then test your luck by spinning The Big Wheel, with the aim to get as close to $1 dollar as you can without going over. If you land on, say, 85 cents, you might opt not to spin again, but you can spin twice. If you win against other contestants you finally play the Showcase Showdown. You know the drill: Rich Fields, the announcer, tells you about all these elaborate prizes like trips and cars, and are complimented by short video clips of real The Price is Right girls showing them to you. You must guess the value of the entire prize pack without going over. Be closer to the real price compared to your opponent and it’s yours.
Despite some awkward animation, Ludia did a great job with giving players a game that looks, feels and sounds like the TV show of the same name. The theme music, announcer voice and sound effects are all authentic, as are the real products you’re playing with, which is a bit odd since I wasn’t sure if these companies paid to be in the game.
Gamers can play against computer-controlled contestants or engage in a "hot seat" multiplayer game ("Party Mode") on the same PC with up to 3 friends. Players can also unlock achievements and awards for playing well, viewable from a trophy room off the main menu. For those really competitive you can click on the "Rank Me In" button to compare the value of your winnings with other players around the globe, or even create groups of family and friends to compete against other groups on the Net. Great idea!
There isn’t much to complain about with The Price Is Right. Very minor issues include the inability to skip virtual contestants’ wheel spins (but you can choose to skip the other contestant’s Showcase Showdown products). Plus, at 108 megabytes, this game will be a much larger download than most casual gamers are used to. Finally, the game can take a few moments to load.
That said, Montreal-based Ludia should be very proud of its first game. It’s fun, fresh and delivers an authentic television game show experience on your PC. It’s easy to pick up but very hard to put down. Now if you’ll excuse me, there’s a Ford Freestar SE van and deluxe wine bar with my name on it!