I’ve been struggling to find motivation to play new games lately. I’ve gotten a bunch of games thanks to them being on deep discount, but then I don’t play them and just default to playing Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War instead. However, I did finish Battleborn before its shutdown for a recent blog post, and I did finish Wolfenstein: Youngblood with friend of the site Bobinator from Hardcore Gaming 101 less than a few weeks ago. But trying something new is a bit harder for me lately, more so than normal. This is due to motivation and several outside factors.
Yet during this time, I somehow got roped into playing a free-to-play mobile game for the first time in probably years. Only because it had a game show themed event to it. And anything that combines game shows with video games just piques my interest instantly, so I couldn’t resist trying it.
Starting in February, the free-to-play mobile game Bingo Story got probably one of the most unexpected crossovers yet: A two month long event featuring the popular game show The Price Is Right – one of my favorites, whether we’re talking about the current version, or classic 1980s episodes thanks to The Price Is Right: The Barker Era on Pluto TV – with one of the more unusual crossovers I’ve seen yet. And I played Cookie Jam, a Candy Crush clone that had cross-promotion with Wheel of Fortune late last year for a blog post that didn’t go anywhere.
I don’t think I really need to explain bingo, but it is a fairly simple game: Balls numbered 1-75 will be called one at a time and your job will be to mark the balls called on your card and eventually get a bingo – often times just five across in any direction horizontally, vertically or diagonally; getting the corners of a card, or covering the entire board – a blackout. First to do so wins and gets a prize. At least this is how it is in the United States, it may vary in other countries.
It’s mostly associated as something usually elderly people play, but it is a game that’s somewhat entertaining for all ages if you wanted to play something simple for a little bit. It was definitely something my mother’s family were into, as I was roped into bingo halls many a time while vacationing in Seattle.
While I can’t say I’m a bingo fan, I am fascinated by things related to bingo, including game shows like Lingo, and video games that use bingo elements such as Slingo. So wanting to capitalize on the bizarre nature of this event, naturally I had to try this.
I was wondering how the heck Bingo Story was going to incorporate one of the longest-running daytime game shows into a bingo mold, and the answer seems to be “put in the most basic of effort while also doing some relative deep cuts.” Let’s Come On Down and see what’s the next item up for bids, shall we?
This article was originally up on Patreon one week early. If you wish to see this article before everyone else, you can pledge to my Patreon here. How much does it cost to see it early? One Dollar, Bob.
Bingo Story plays differently compared to conventional bingo: You’re playing by yourself, and you’re given 30 balls to daub on your marker to make as many bingos as you can. After marking a few numbers on the card, you can activate a powerup that vary from auto-daubing random numbers on your card, to doubling your overall score, to other event-related items. Once all 30 balls have been called, you have the opportunity to stop and take your final score, or spend bingo tokens to call 5 more balls, repeating until you run out of tokens or blackout both cards.
Once done, your score is added to a leaderboard where you can get rewards at the end of the event – usually lasting no more than a few days – where you’ll get rewards like more powerups, various amounts of currency, stuff like that. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Ironically, despite being called Bingo Story, there is no story mode to this game whatsoever, the “Story” refers to the game’s motif of using storybook characters to prop up the game’s style. Admittedly I was disappointed finding this out at first, but I learned to get used to the fairy tale motif the game normally has.
I was honestly expecting something more like modern free-to-play games such as Candy Crush where you’re going level-to-level and trying to make progress by solving challenges and puzzles. But in this case it’s just bingo, except by yourself. In a sense, it reminds me a lot like Zynga Slingo, a game I played and wrote about way back in 2012, where the crux of that game was an average bingo and slots experience that you play with friends and random folk.
So how does The Price Is Right fall into this? Well, the event involves completing prize rooms in the Showcase by opening loot boxes. Loot boxes are given upon completing certain challenges and events, and give you items that can be crafted as prizes that could be seen on the show.
In addition to the normal bingo levels, there’s a bingo-themed Price Is Right stage where pricing tags are littered onto the bingo boards at random. If a number is chosen that has one of these price tags, it’ll fill up a bar where you can unlock a bonus game to play after the bingo shenanigans.
As of this writing, only one of the show’s pricing games is available to play at a time. The first game featured was based on the famous Cliff Hangers. Whereas on the actual show the goal is to avoid the mountain climber from falling off the mountain, in Bingo Story it’s more a bonus thing as you accumulate spins for Yodely Guy to climb up the mountain and get rewards: More lootboxes, powerups, credits, you know the gist.
They eventually released similar minigames based on other pricing games. Starting with Punch-a-Bunch, then Let ‘em Roll, and finally the most famous pricing game: Plinko. These were shuffled in every week or so, and all of them rely on the same gimmick of getting chips to redeem for rewards on the board.
Naturally since this is a free-to-play title, Bingo Story hits all the trappings of those kind of games: Lots of nagging for you to pay money to get an advantage in the game, with a slow sense of progression if you don’t. Lots of loot boxes and premium currency, alongside premium items you can pay real money to get. Yet Bingo Story also does something from modern games that I never thought a free-to-play mobile bingo game would ever try: The infamous “Battle Pass” system from games like Fortnite.
Using another Price Is Right game as reference, the Golden Road is the equivalent to a battle pass, with free tiers and paid tiers if you pay $20 in real money. You gain levels by acquiring coins either through the minigames or completing prizes in the Showcase rooms. Each level unlocks the aforementioned goodies. You can even use your bingo tokens normally used to buy into games to skip tiers if you want.
Honestly, I find a lot of these practices rather predatory, as it’s easy to get caught into the trap of spending money to make progress. Seeing that even a freakin’ bingo game is doing battle passes just makes me feel super uncomfortable about the current state of “freemium” gaming.
The main goal of the whole Price Is Right event is to complete every set of the Showcase with items one can get from opening loot boxes. Get enough items to build a prize and you’re rewarded with tokens and coins that help towards walking down the Golden Road. That’s about it. It uses some of the elements from the TV show, complete with using the show’s theme song and some of the show’s incidental music in various areas, and you’re often accosted by a digital representation of host Drew Carey at every opportunity.
There really isn’t much else for me to say about Bingo Story. It’s an interesting little event that probably got some fans of The Price Is Right interested in playing some free-to-play bingo game, and I’ll play this for a while until I get bored and move onto something else.
I wasn’t going into playing this with any high hopes, and I can give Clipwire Games credit for giving the show sort of a “cute” makeover to match the rest of the game’s fairly derivative style, but that’s about it. It’s rather unremarkable otherwise. Much like actual bingo can be sometimes.
I will give Bingo Story credit for one thing: It’s not just a mobile game, it’s also on Facebook. This made writing about the game a lot easier as I could play it from my computer than on my several-year-old phone, which took me multiple tries for the game to acknowledge me pressing the X button after repeatedly nagging me to spend money. Though it seemed to only work on Google Chrome, trying to play this on Firefox would just have it hang on the loading screen.
If this has piqued your interest in playing some digital bingo, then it’s worth a shot, but if this didn’t have the Price Is Right promotion I wouldn’t have bothered. Here’s hoping the game sticks around and doesn’t peter out like the last time I advertised a Price Is Right-themed game.
Now that I’ve written about a combined mobile game and a game show, it reminds me of a time where a fairly popular mobile game somehow became a prime time game show where people were playing it for big cash prizes. Perhaps that’s something I should probably write about real soon…