Game show video games are still one of many genres I’m fascinated by. While Jackbox Games are still plugging away with twice-yearly Jackbox Party Packs, the competition has mostly dried up. Hell, we haven’t had a proper Wheel of Fortune or Jeopardy! game since the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 era. (No, those crappy freemium mobile apps don’t count.)
So I tend to go back to the glory days, when GameTek was still 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 again.
Surprisingly, for the NES, there were four versions of Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune on the system. It honestly would’ve done fine with just two, but it must’ve been a huge cash cow for them to keep making. Either that or being given away as consolation prizes on the show gave them a good reason to do the equivalent of a “roster update” for those games.
This time, I’m covering a fairly obscure one from the Jeopardy! collection: Super Jeopardy!. Released around 1991, this was based off of the fairly short-lived version that actually aired on primetime TV.
I’m going to assume my audience knows Jeopardy! the game show (here’s the Wikipedia page if you don’t), so I’ll talk about what Super Jeopardy! was.
Super Jeopardy! was a 13-week special Tournament of Champions featuring the best players of the current version of the show at the time (plus one champion from the Art Fleming era because the first Tournament of Champions winner passed away) playing for a whopping $250,000. Instead of playing for cash, they were playing for points in the main games.
Oh, and the quarterfinals featured an unprecedented 4 contestants playing. Wowzers!
In reality, this was only made as a complementary show for Merv Griffin’s other show, Monopoly, based on the board game. Both shows didn’t last long, because they aired on a Saturday evening on ABC. Saturday is basically the kiss of death for anything on American television, so it along with Monopoly were in-and-done after 13 weeks. Though I bet had Monopoly lasted another season, maybe we would’ve gotten a season of Super Wheel of Fortune or something else instead.
Gametek made two Super Jeopardy! video games. One of which is on the PC, and I almost considered that version, but this video proved me otherwise:
WARNING: THE VIDEO BELOW FEATURES EXTREMELY LOUD, NOISY PC SOUNDS. MAKE SURE YOU TURN YOUR VOLUME DOWN (OR MUTE THE VIDEO) BEFORE PLAYING. I WILL NOT BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR BLOWN SPEAKERS OR DAMAGED EARDRUMS.
So instead, I’ll play the “Talking” NES release. This, along with a Wheel of Fortune game featuring 8-bit Vanna White, were the first Gametek game show games on the NES not developed by Rare, so it’ll be an interesting experience compared to those.
First off, no Alex Trebek. We wouldn’t see him until the SNES and Genesis era, so we’re stuck with a host that looks like a slimy used car salesman than a game show host.
The contestant portraits aren’t any better, showing a bunch of cartoony goobers as our players. Granted, it’s better than the mutant David Letterman of the original NES Jeopardy!, or even mirror universe Jeopardy! Junior kid from the 25th Anniversary Edition, but they’re still bad even by NES standards.
There isn’t much else to say about the game. Choose a clue, buzz in, type the answer in, get it right or wrong. The game isn’t much different from the previous Jeopardy! Games so far besides the graphics and “modern” clues.
The cover boasts that it’s “Talking,” and what that means is every once in a while you’ll hear digital speech of the host saying “correct,” “incorrect,” or “for-six-hundred-points-the-answer-is.” It’s an interesting novelty, but this was released years after NES games were already doing it – coincidentally Rare’s video game version of Pin-Bot did it three years prior – and years after it was even remotely interesting, such as Sinistar.
The only other cool novelty is that it was one of the few games that supported four players with the NES Four Score or NES Satellite. Unfortunately for this game, it’s pretty pointless. Rare’s Jeopardy! games just made it so players 1 and 3 share controllers, and I don’t see how the wizards at Gametek couldn’t do the same thing here. Honestly I would rather play Nightmare on Elm Street than Super Jeopardy! with four controllers. Hell, even Smash TV would be more fun with four controllers than this.
After Final Jeopardy, the winnings are tabulated based on where you scored at the end of the game. If you won, you got a three digit code you could use to move on to the 3-person semifinals, and eventually to the finals. Didn’t win? Too bad, play again. Even the code here doesn’t work unless you actually won the game.
This is an annoying way to block access to just going straight to the finals. It would be like a Madden game blocking you out of playing the Super Bowl unless you qualified through an entire NFL season first. This makes sense in something like an arcade game, but not a quiz game like Super freakin’ Jeopardy.
Thankfully GameFAQs came to my rescue and gave me a code that skips straight to the finals match. While playing as the titular ~Gamer~, I fought my way through, beat my opponents swiftly in a lock game, and won the tournament. My reward should be a congratulations screen and $250,000 in fake cash, right?
It’s the same as winning any other game.
Talk about an utter kick to the balls. Not even a celebratory message or “Congratulations” by not-Trebek, just the same static screen as any other game. I’m glad I cheated to get to the end because had I fought all my way to get this disappointing win screen, I would’ve been pissed.
All things considered, this was likely made as a quick cash-in for GameTek to make some last-second cash on the property before the Genesis and SNES versions a year later. But this Jeopardy! was far from Super, that’s for sure.