This! Is! JEOPARDY! On handhelds!

One idea I had during my game show research was to cover most of the notable adaptations of game show games, such as Jeopardy! There’s one problem, though:


There are a lot of Jeopardy! games. I mean a lot of them. MobyGames doesn’t even list all of them. Plus for a game as simple as Jeopardy!, there isn’t much to say about each one. So I decided to go smaller. Much smaller.

I kinda loved that starburst GameTek logo more than the later one...

I kinda loved that starburst GameTek logo more than the later one…

Today, I’m gonna talk about Jeopardy! on the Game Boy. Jeopardy! was one of the few game show games that made it to Nintendo’s greenscale handheld in 1991, alongside Wheel of Fortune. Naturally GameTek published this outing, and it boasted “Over 1,500 new questions!” on the box. Though technically they’re answers, but I’m not gonna get too nitpicky here.

Jeopardy (U) [BF]_11

I remember getting both Jeopardy! and Wheel in a combo pack at Target for about $10 each. This was the mid-90s, and Target was chock full of excess copies, so selling one to a young budding game show/video game nut like me was a treat. It also helped during vacation trips, such as the one time I went to a resort cabin with my family and was happily having fun with this, and probably Pokemon Red. There wasn’t much to do in the times before everybody had the internet in their pockets. 😛

But enough reminiscing. Let’s play Jeopardy! on the Game Boy.

Jeopardy (U) [BF]_12

We’re off to a rough start where it shows these three options: Play against the computer, go head to head, or use a link cable to go head to head. The problem with the last one is that it’s ultimately pointless. Jeopardy! is not an intense head-to-head game like Tetris or Dr. Mario, and you already have a two players on one system option already in place. It just seems like a feature they slapped onto the box just to say they had it.

Notice that so far I’ve mentioned only two players. Well, here’s why.

Jeopardy (U) [BF]_13

As opposed to allowing three players, like every other Jeopardy! game in existence, this game is two players only. This is baffling, considering it probably wouldn’t be hard to support three players on the handheld. Oh well, let’s move on.

Sadly no Alex Trebek in this version. Nintendo Power once described the host as “Guy Smiley” from Sesame Street, but I’d say he more resembles Mr. Game Show‘s dorkier brother. Also, our intrepid not-Trebek is not at a podium, magically reading all the clues from a single question card, and occasionally teleporting to the board when a Daily Double is chosen. This guy certainly has some voodoo magic.

Jeopardy (U) [BF]_14

Now let’s get into the game itself. It handles pretty closely to the TV show, having all the clues, Daily Doubles, stuff like that. Though I can tell the clues aren’t nearly as refined or polished as the TV show’s. Guess they didn’t want to crib from old episodes for material.

Since I’m a loner, I decided to go solo with an AI opponent. We’re at this one clue, when suddenly he buzzes in with a few seconds remaining.

Jeopardy (U) [BF]_17 Jeopardy (U) [BF]_18

Oh right. Instead of programming a potential wrong answer, the game opts for a generic gibberish term. Now that I saw the clue and he guessed wrong, maybe I can buzz in-

Jeopardy (U) [BF]_19

What? Oh, that’s incredibly lame. The in-game timer resumes from where it left off. Since the AI buzzed in just before time ran out, it basically blocked me out of buzzing in and guessing. This also seems like an easy way to piss off your opponent by buzzing in and guessing wrong just to screw them out of money. Though it’s not the best strategy if you wanna stay in the black for Final Jeopardy.

These avatars are goofy even by 1991 standards.

These avatars are goofy even by 1991 standards.

There isn’t a whole lot to say about this one. It’s Jeopardy!, but with a few differences that don’t make it nearly as cool as the other versions. But did you know there was more than one Jeopardy! game on the Game Boy? There wasn’t just one Jeopardy! game, there were FOUR versions of Jeopardy! on the Game Boy. Four.

Love how the later ones have a glitched logo and the subtitle in Arial, like they put so little effort into it.

Apparently Jeopardy! must have been cheap as hell to make for GameTek, so they pumped out a few more of them during the Game Boy’s long lifespan. In addition to a Sports-themed Edition, there was a Platinum Edition with new questions, and a new Teen Tournament version with easier questions for the younger crowd.

There are differences between this and the original, though. Sports Edition added a delay when showing the clue to avoid quick autobuzzers, as well as resetting the timer to 5 seconds on a wrong answer to avoid cheating players out of buzzing in. The later Platinum Edition and Teen Tournament versions removed link play, and added Super Game Boy support! Wowsers!

It's not even *good* Super Game Boy support, as they just changed the colors and tweaked the sound slightly! Not even a fancy border!

It’s not even *good* Super Game Boy support, as they just changed the colors and tweaked the sound slightly! There’s not even a fancy border like other SGB games!

I’m not exactly sure who made these versions. The credits have changed very little from version to version, but I doubt the two designers credited were brought back every few years to add new clues. I guess we’ll never know who wrote the material, but they do make it important on the back of Sports Edition that Merv Griffin Enterprises didn’t write the clues for this version. I guess that was to avoid any legal trouble, but it’s weird to see on the back of the box.


Now the Game Boy wasn’t the only portable to get the fast-paced quizzer. The Game Gear also received Jeopardy! as well as a Sports Edition. Let’s see if there’s any major differences between them.

Need an 8-bit Alex Trebek in your life? Here you go.

Need an 8-bit Alex Trebek in your life? Here you go.

Wow. They actually sprung the money to actually get Alex frickin’ Trebek’s likeness in the Game Gear version. Wonder why they didn’t get him sooner.

Though in-game he looks more like his present-day counterpart than his 1993 self...

Though in-game he looks more like his present-day counterpart than his 1993 self…

Anyway, the Game Gear game is similar to the other versions, but with some fancy enhancements. The game looks nicer, resembling the TV show more. The developers of this version decided that the SN76489 chip was so much better than the dinky sound chip the Game Boy used, because there’s DIGITIZED SPEECH! Hear Trebek say things occasionally while playing, as well as hear some of the sound effects from the show. It’s like the real thing!

Jeopardy! (UE) [!]003

However, it’s still two players, which is a shame. It also looks a bit… choppy animation-wise. I assume the designers were trying to work around the LCD screen that the Game Gear used, but it just looks weird outside of that. It’s better than the Game Boy version by a long shot, but that’s not saying a whole lot.

That's one creepy-ass smile, Trebek.

That’s one creepy-ass smile, Trebek.

It would take many many years and several portable systems before Jeopardy! would grace the handheld scene once more, when THQ released it alongside Wheel of Fortune in 2010. Maybe I’ll get around to those one day, but we can’t forget the GameTek era of Jeopardy! handheld games, where not-Trebek gave the answers, and you had to come up with the questions. Or if all else failed, yell “ZWXYZ” in a panic.

I'm using this as a gimmick answer from now on.

I’m using this as a response from now on.


B.J. Brown

B.J. Brown is the creator and sole writer on You Found a Secret Area. Casually writing since 2010, Fascinated by dumb things like game shows, music, and of course, video games. Also on Twitter. You can support their work on Ko-Fi or Patreon.

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4 Responses

  1. Andrew Z. says:

    I’m guessing the reason why the Game Boy and Game Gear versions of Jeopardy only had two contestants, and also why there’s only support for two players via link cable, is a combination of these factors:
    1.) The screens are far too small to fit all three contestants unlike the home console versions of the games, and the developers were either incapable of or couldn’t be asked to find some way around this obstacle.
    2.) The GB and GG link cable tech being based, in part, off of the serial communication standard, and is such unable to communicate between any number of units that aren’t in base-2 (which is why most multiplayer GB/GG games were 2-player only, and why any GB games that used the 4-player adapter where 4 players only).
    3.) The Zilog Z80 microprocessor that powered both the original Game Boy and Game Gear might not have been capable to handle two sets of AI in the same vein as the home console varieties of Jeopardy in single player, and having a third CPU player playing concurrently during link cable play.

  1. March 26, 2017

    […] around making loads of these games as probably their #1 source of income. I already covered the Game Boy and Game Gear versions of Jeopardy! in the past, and thought, might as well come back to the well once […]

  2. March 31, 2019

    […] of Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune, I’ve actually written about some Jeopardy! games, such as the Game Boy/Game Gear installments, as well as Talking Super Jeopardy! on the NES. Surprisingly, when it comes to Wheel, so far […]

  3. October 25, 2019

    […] It’s surprisingly a good rendition of the theme, as far as NES adaptations go. This time it just uses the more iconic portion of theme rather than the build-up portion of the original like in previous installments, though it ends differently than the show’s does. It does feature a rendition of the think music, as well as a bunch of incidental cues that play during right and wrong answers. Oddly, those tracks also appear in the Game Boy and Game Gear versions of Jeopardy!, which I’ve actually talked about in the past as well. […]

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