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Jeopardy!

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Alternate Titles:
Riskant!
Sharedata Inc
1987
Genre:
Puzzle
Theme:
Quiz / Multiplayer / Based on Other Media
Language:
English, Deutsch
Licence:
Commercial
System:
PC (DOS)
Views:
11863

Rating [?]

Mr Creosote:
4/6
Overall:
4/6
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Mr Creosote (2008-11-15) [hide]

Avatar Although some people (and especially the producers) may claim differently, Jeopardy! is actually one of the most straightforward quiz shows on TV. Nevermind that question-answer stuff - it's still basically the same. Especially because most of the 'answers' aren't really what you'd give as an answer if you were asked the respective 'question' ('What is red?' - 'The colour of the stitchings of a major league Baseball game'... right, that's how I'd define it, too). Basically, the three candidates are presented with a sort of 'definition', and they have to say what it is about.

The game pretty much makes away with the ridiculous 'as a question' by giving most of the sentence in advance. The players just have to fill in the actual term. But that's not the only good choice the game makes to transfer it to the computer screen. The largest problem with these games is that the answers have to be given in free form, i.e. the player has to type something in. A classic point of failure - multiple choice translates more easily. What, if the player obviously knows the answer, but uses a synonym, a different spelling or something like that? No problem in a real quiz show where the answer is given orally and to human beings who can interpret. A huge problem if the answer is given to a machine which can't think.

This problem will never be solved completely, but in Jeopardy!, it's not really all that bad. Even if the game actually expects the answer 'F.D.R.', it will also accept 'Roosevelt', and when it's looking for 'Cerberus', entering 'Kerberos' will get you the points as well. Obviously, a lot of work has been put into building up not just the question database, but also into providing lots and lots of alternative answers. Talking about questions (sorry: answers, of course), they're quite varied and don't repeat themselves quickly, which is always good to see. Mostly, they're to the point and don't allow for that much interpretation or completely different answers.

The game is, of course, played best with two other human players, but the computer opponents do provide surprisingly adaequate competition as well. This is where the two language versions (the German version is called 'Riskant' - the TV show only ran under the original title from the mid-90s here) differ quite a bit, actually. In the German version, I pretty much always win by a sizable margin, in the English version, I have a very tough time. There are two reasons for this.

First, a technical one: In the English version, the computer players often 'buzz in' so quickly that there isn't even time to read the 'answer' properly! Sorry, but one second isn't enough - so even if you know the 'question', you won't have a chance to give it, because a computer opponent has already done so. This has nothing to do with fast computers, by the way, and the game apparantely uses the computers clock instead of CPU cycles for any time-critical routines (smart move). In the German version, this never happens - you always have the time to read and understand everything before the computer acts.

The second reason is a matter of cultural background, of course. The questions in both versions are completely different ones (thankfully). And while I may be quite proficient at German / European literature, music and whatever else the German version of the game throws at me, I have a hard to answering questions about specific landmarks found in San Francisco or about people associated with Baseball. It'll obviously be the other way round for other people, but it's always something to keep in mind (not just for this particular game, but it's basically a valid question for any quiz type game).

Graphics and sound are, unfortunately, quite tacky. This is a CGA game, so be prepared for ugly colours. In fact, the game looks pretty much like a typical result of a total beginner playing around with the drawing functions of Quick Basic 4 (believe me, I'm experienced when it comes to this). Sound is restricted to a few blips and blops from the PC speaker which can't even be disabled (aaargh!).

Then again, this is not what this game is about. It's a quiz game testing your trivia knowledge, and in this (admittedly) small genre, it's one of the best, and one of the very few which make even sense to play on your own.

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Comments (3) [hide] [Post comment]

Mr Creosote (2008-11-23):

Originally posted by Spiced at 06:22 on November 23rd, 2008:
Here is how I see the rationale behind the categories. They depend on your knowledge. If you know a lot about San Francisco and little about Victorian authors, it behooves you to make progress against your opponents there. Perhaps they also know about San Francisco, in which case you may or may not be forced to turn the game in to a key pressing competition. Of course, you still have to look at the Victorian questions, but at least do it on your terms.
Hmm.... I don't really follow the reasoning there. As I said, you're going to play all the questions anyway, so your area of expertise (and the opposite category) are going to turn up anyway. The end result of points / money is the same. Maybe I'm going at this too analytically, though - there may be a psychological aspect ("I'll never be able to catch up with this guy, he's too far ahead") for less mathematically-minded persons ;)

Quote:
Then there is the money. Let's say you got the daily double. If you got it for a question ordinarily for $100, you may feel like betting differently than if the question were for a more difficult spot.
Ah, yes, you mean those special fields? Those slipped my mind completely (they're not in the game, I think), but I seem to remember one (called 'risk'-something) where the player who picked the field would be the only one who can answer and he has to choose the sum of money to bet. Ok, as I said, I forgot about those, but that would still be solvable easily if the questions were played 'in order' without any choice: just let an 'event buzzer' kick in randomly to trigger such events and also let it pick the candidate.

Quote:
Alex Trebek is actually known to resent players picking spots out of order ($400 after $200, et cetera). I don't know if that is a rule on Jeopardy! currently. I sort of agree with him, so there is an unending source of irritation from the computer players for me.
I don't care much for the actual order of questions per se for the same reason I consider jumping around pointless - it makes no difference in the end. However, in the game, I find it very annoying, because of the interface. As you know, picking the next question is done by pushing a number key which doesn't directly correspond to the sum of money displayed on the board. As long as I'm picking the questions, I'm always going from top-left to bottom-right, so I can pretty much also press the buttons in 'correct' order (1, 2, 3, 4...). The computer players destroy this scheme by creating gaps, so when I'm picking next time, I get confused why my key press didn't result in any question being displayed... two seconds of irritation, then the realization that that question isn't there anymore and I have to pick the next one. Annoying.

Spiced (2008-11-23):

Originally posted by Mr Creosote at 17:59 on November 16th, 2008:
A thought which I couldn't fit into the review:

What's the deal with selecting the category and 'value' of the question from that wall? They're all played anyway, so the order doesn't matter at all. Pointless, pointless, pointless!

Ah, what a great choice. This is one of the few games I keep around eternally (had it a good 15 years).

Here is how I see the rationale behind the categories. They depend on your knowledge. If you know a lot about San Francisco and little about Victorian authors, it behooves you to make progress against your opponents there. Perhaps they also know about San Francisco, in which case you may or may not be forced to turn the game in to a key pressing competition. Of course, you still have to look at the Victorian questions, but at least do it on your terms.

Then there is the money. Let's say you got the daily double. If you got it for a question ordinarily for $100, you may feel like betting differently than if the question were for a more difficult spot.

Alex Trebek is actually known to resent players picking spots out of order ($400 after $200, et cetera). I don't know if that is a rule on Jeopardy! currently. I sort of agree with him, so there is an unending source of irritation from the computer players for me.

Mr Creosote (2008-11-16):

A thought which I couldn't fit into the review:

What's the deal with selecting the category and 'value' of the question from that wall? They're all played anyway, so the order doesn't matter at all. Pointless, pointless, pointless!

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