PC (DOS) Game Review (Posted on 05-02-2015)
TV game show junkies unite: here is one of my all-time favorites that never got off the ground. I'm speaking of both the TV show itself and this game, specially made for Microsoft DOS. Majority of folks never knew the host of this excellent show was
Alex Trebek, in contrast to his hosting of Jeopardy!
which he hosts to this day. Being the very first computer I played games on, an IBM 5153 (286), this was one of the first games I played endlessly. It helped with my visual learning and visual analysis. (And games are bad for children?!)
Based straight off of the classic television game show, which I truly believe NBC or Game Show Network should revive again (I know you TV programming executives are reading this), the game plays exactly what you'd expect. Sure, it may have been one of those classic game shows that some remember, but have easily forgotten. Being that you can win prizes and a brand new car, it's the closest alternative to The Price Is Right
. For those unfamiliar with both the TV show and the game, allow me if you will:
Using your memory muscle, and your concentration, the goal is to match the numeric squares with its pair. Behind each square (I know geometrically it's a rectangle) is a prize, from a trip to Miami to a Mink Coat. You match, and that very prize chosen is the prize you win, thus listed in your inventory behind you—behind the character you play. The more prizes you win and match, the more money—points—you earn. However, for every match you make, the squares disappear and unveils the puzzle known as a rebus
. To make things easier, you'll notice a WILD
square, and what ever square you choose, that WILD card automatically matches with its natural pair. There are two WILD cards, and if you choose both WILD cards, you win a $500 bonus. Realistically, the more squares matched, the more visible the puzzle appears making it easier for you, or even your opponent, to solve it (think Wheel Of Fortune
in the unveiling of more letters to make solving the puzzle easier). Whoever solves the puzzle wins the game, and the winner advances to the Bonus Round
. If the computer wins, you don't witness the computer playing the Bonus Round.
Not that I look like this character but it's the closest (not really).
In the Bonus Round are only 15 squares and behind them are brand names of cars. The premise is the same but with a time limit of 35 seconds. Match the cars in under 35 seconds and the last car you successfully match is the car you win! Win the car or lose, you get the list of all the prizes you won totaling all the money—points—you earned and you get listed on the "Champs" list. Later, you get prompted if you want to play again, and if so, playing with the same opponent or someone different.
The game navigation is something you'd likely find in an old Linux/Unix terminal/command line computer, as it uses Y
for "yes" and N
for "no." To navigate, you simply use your arrow keys and to select a square, you use the "Enter"/"Return" key. (Doubtful the game works with a game controller as a keyboard is required to type out your answer.) To solve the puzzle, you're always asked if you can solve the puzzle; Simply type "Y" then use your the keyboard to type out your answer. Punctuations like apostrophes are required, but commas and periods don't count as long as the answer is correct. As for the Bonus Round, the highest-priced car you can win is the Seville ($24,000); The car with the lowest value is the Le Mans ($8,990). Lose the Bonus Round, and the next time you play, an additional 5 seconds is added to the clock. Playing this game during my youth, the highest I got the clock to add up was 95 seconds which I believe is the maximum.
One weird thing I found is the game gets wonky and begins to glitch when you say "yes" to playing against the same opponent the third time. The game craps out when you play against the same opponent the fifth time. A really odd phenomenon since programmers assume no one plays against the same opponent after the second time. On the other hand, if you win the game plus the Bonus Round for the third straight time, the game increases in difficulty, in terms of matching the squares and solving the puzzles, and the computer opponent gets wiser and solves puzzles quickly. The most I've gotten was only 4 wins in a row, but that's because I chose to quit while I was the undefeated champion. If any of you out there won more than 4 times in a row, I love to see your gameplay!
As for the characters, in no way was I able to find any distinction as to which characters are easy to beat based on looks, age and/or gender. (I tried testing such hypothesis by playing a hot female blonde I named "Ashley.")
Theoretically however, the senior citizen-looking folks are ones who can solve and beat you in an instant. And when you lose the game, your name gets removed from the "Champs" list. I also noticed the least used character chosen by the computer is the middle-aged woman with the eyeglasses (not the old lady with her sewing equipment....that she brought on the show). As for the character animation, it's uninspired. It's very simply, perhaps lazily, done and characters only react to a match, loss, win or over a wrong answer on the rebus puzzle. Speaking of the rebuses, I've played the game so much to the point where I was able to memorize and solve a puzzle within one match (see third image above). I took a ton of screenshots of the puzzles, so as a convenience for you, in case YOU get stumped, here they are. Hold the applause; You don't need to kiss me; I was happy to do it.
I'm not sure if this is all
of it but I'm sure there are hidden puzzles that the program rarely uses on the game. I did forget one puzzle where the answer is "Willie Nelson." The puzzles themselves aren't too difficult, but few of them do require a good thinking.
Although very stimulating and fun, the game gets monotonous after a long while. Plus, being that this is a DOS game, those "bleep bloop" sounds will ache your ears after a while. And those sounds emulating the TV show's theme song in the beginning, which is one of my favorite theme songs by the way, does get a bit annoying. Luckily, the introduction song DOESN'T loop and eventually stops after being played once. The graphics aren't much as this dates back during the era of 8-bit. I find that strange because graphically, it's harkens back during the days of Mattel's Intellivision despite this game's release in 1988. The color schemes are strange. On the show, the squares are yellow and red, but the squares on this game are red and neon green.
As for the contestant's podium, it has a very cold-color theme. As for the male contestant with the hat, his attire blends in with the prize board behind him! Speaking of contestants, say you play as a female. You do get to choose a platinum blonde lady with an hour-glass figure, like I did (having named her "Ashley"). I'm going to go on a limb and say they've added such character to break the stereotype that "blondes are dumb." Another odd thing was no credits featured anywhere in the game.
This game surely would have had a higher rating despite its flaws. However, it's a classic one I've remembered and played since I was about 4 years old, and I still think anyone playing can get a good challenge and fun from it. Give it a shot!
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© 2008-2019 written and reviewed personally by Kris Caballero.
PC (DOS) Game Ratings
PC (DOS) Credits
Based on the television program Classic Concentration produced by Mark Goodson Productions.
Copyright 1988 The Concentration Company.
All Rights Reserved.
This computer program was adapted, published and distributed by ShareData, Inc., Chandler, Arizona.
© ShareData, Inc. 1988.
All Rights Reserved.
This computer program was developed and licensed
in conjunction with Softie, Inc., Phoenix, Arizona.
Commodore 64/128, Apple II and IBM are the trademarks of Commodore International,
Apple Computer, Inc. and International Business Machines Inc., respectively.
Tandy is a registered trademark of Tandy Corporation.