Wheel of Fortune (video game)

Wheel of Fortune (video game)

Like "Jeopardy!", "Wheel of Fortune" has had many video games released over the years. Every modern version of Wheel features the likeness of co-host Vanna White (and later, the voice of announcer Charlie O'Donnell), but not of host Pat Sajak, with no explanation given to why. These include a computer game for older Macintosh computers, a version for the Commodore 64, a game for the Nintendo Entertainment System that was released prior to the overhaul of the bonus round during the "Big Month of Cash," both a Super NES and Sega Mega Drive rendition, a Nintendo 64 version, several PC versions, and even an arcade version. A free version of the game is available on [http://www.station.com Station.com] .

"All versions are released by Gametek unless noted below."

NES version

The NES version was designed by Rare, and three editions were made: The original in 1988, a Junior Edition in 1989, and a Family Edition in 1990. Oddly, the Family Edition does not feature the famous "Wheel of Fortune" theme. This does not support the NES Four Score accessory; the third player must use the first player's controller.

This version featured three rounds, a wheel that never changed values (The Top Dollar value in every round was $1,000), and the third round was always the Speed Round with the final spin. If the player advances to the bonus round, they must choose a prize to play for and solve the final puzzle by choosing five consonants and one vowel (this was before R, S, T, L, N and E were given in the offset).

The only differences with the Junior Edition is puzzles more identifiable to children and prizes to match (instead of playing for cars, players play for trips or similar). The Family Edition follows this same route.

Another version, titled "Wheel of Fortune featuring Vanna White", was a new version designed by IJE, who also developed "Talking Super Jeopardy!" at the same time.

Genesis/SNES versions

The Super NES and Sega Genesis versions were released in 1991, and feature similar graphics and puzzles, and is based more on the rules of the 1989 version, with a choice of prizes.

Another edition, titled the Deluxe Edition, was released only to the Super NES in 1993. This version like the one explained above, followed rules of the 1989 version but had 1992 set changes such as the colored "W" wheel backdrops, as also seen in the Sega CD version of the game, as well as more detailed graphics, somewhat simplified controls, and the speed-up round. Oddly, the full spinning wheel present in the original Super NES version was replaced with a much simpler animation.

ega CD version

Sony Imagesoft released a version for the Sega Mega-CD in 1994, concurrently with the PC version (see below). Featured full-motion video and Red Book CD audio of the 1989 theme and various cues from that era, but like the Deluxe Edition on the SNES, the game used the 1992 (Season 10)-96 (Season 14) set with the "W" wheel glass-tower starburst backdrops behind each contestant.

Nintendo 64 version

Gametek released a version for the Nintendo 64 in 1997, and featured rules similar to the 1995-96 season such as the Bankrupt/$10000/Bankrupt wedge and Jackpot round. This would also be the last Wheel game published by Gametek, as they filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy that year.

PlayStation versions

Atari (then known as Hasbro Interactive) acquired the Wheel and Jeopardy! licenses and started releasing versions for the PlayStation. Two versions were released. The second edition features a behind-the-scenes look at the show and a sample question exam.

PlayStation 2 version

The most recent console edition of Wheel was in 2003, released a little after the PC version (see below).

Handheld variants

Versions of "Wheel" were made for the Game Boy and Game Gear. The rules of the Game Boy and Game Gear versions were based on the early 1990s rules of the American syndicated version of Wheel of Fortune.

Two editions were published for Tiger Electronics's game.com.

PC versions

Like Jeopardy!, there were many versions made for the PC. Five editions were made by Sharedata (later Gametek), including a Junior Edition and a Golden Edition. Versions of these were also released for the Apple II and Commodore 64. Gametek continued publishing PC versions released around the same time as their console counterparts.

Sony Imagesoft released a PC version of Wheel around the same time as the Sega CD version.

Once Gametek folded, Hasbro Interactive (later Infogrames, and now Atari Interactive) released three versions of Wheel in 1998, 2000 and 2002 or 2003, developed by Artech Entertainment, Ltd..

Commodore 64 Versions

One of the very first electronic versions of Wheel of Fortune was made for the Commodore 64 by Sharedata in 1986. Sharedata was not the only company to manufacture Wheel of Fortune games for the C64 for long. In 1993, three companies, Chromance, Vermes, and Marex, created their own Wheel of Fortune game to play on the C64. Even though it played like the American version, it was actually an English translation of the Polish version of Wheel of Fortune (Koło Fortuny).

Arcade version

Gametek also produced an arcade version of Wheel in 1989 (one of their few forays into arcade games). Playable by one to three players, the gameplay was much like the show with a few exceptions; no Bonus Round (as gameplay was continuous), selectable difficulty of puzzles (normal or expert), a single Wheel arrangement for all rounds (with a top dollar value of $900) and no prizes or bonuses. Players were given a set number of "misses" (wrong guesses or hits on BANKRUPT or LOSE A TURN; adjustable by the arcade owner between 1 and 5) before gameplay ended, and the player was prompted to buy-in and continue. Hitting certain score amounts could replenish these misses (similar to earning extra "lives" in other games). Player controls were limited to an encoder wheel (which was used to spin the Wheel or select letters & game options) and one button for each player, to confirm said selections. This was a video redemption game -- while no real money was actually won (it was simply a means of keeping score), reaching certain score amounts would cause tickets to be dispensed. Graphics were on par with the arcade games of the day (just a hair over the home game systems of the time), and the game even featured a "Vanna" look-alike to "turn letters" on the board and urge on players with a simulated voice (NOT Vanna White's).

This game used a software-based test menu (as opposed to DIP switches) to set the game options -- they were saved to EEPROM.

Cancelled versions

In 1983, Gametek (then known as Great Games Company) planned to release a version of "Wheel of Fortune", along with conversions of several other popular game shows, for the Atari 2600. [http://www.rolentapress.com/memorabillia/great-game.jpg] However, these plans were canceled when the Video Game Crash of 1983 almost killed the video game industry. Since many felt that the Atari 2600 was not powerful enough to faithfully reproduce these games, it is believed that if these games had been developed and released, they would have been released as a hybrid video/board game (such as the "Quest for Rings" on the Odyssey2). [http://www.atariage.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=49081&mode=linear]

Play-along versions

In 1988, Mattel released an electronic handheld Wheel of Fortune game that allowed players to point the device at the television and play along, as the puzzle would appear on a small LCD screen. The unit also included video tapes with puzzles on them and allowed players to program their own puzzles. In 2004, Tiger Electronics made a Wheel of Fortune game which worked in a similar fashion. Tiger Electronics press release

lot machines

Given creator Merv Griffin's fondness for gambling (including being a successful casino owner), it would seem natural that Wheel would be featured as the basis for a slot machine. International Gaming Technology licensed the rights to make Wheel-based games in 1996. The first machines (and still the most popular) featured standard IGT traditional three-reel slot machines, each with a reproduction of the show's famous wheel above the reels. When a "SPIN" symbol lines up on any reel, the player presses a button to start the wheel spinning, and a player could win as many as 1000 credits (with no "Bankrupt" wedges). Lining up three "Wheel of Fortune" symbols wins the progressive jackpot, which is usually linked with other Wheel machines throughout one or more states and reaches into the millions of dollars.

In more recent years, as video-based slot machines with many paylines have become popular, video versions of Wheel machines have appeared, all with the familiar wheel above the screen. In 2004, a version featuring Sajak, White, and O'Donnell was produced as a "Special Edition." A second version of the "Special Edition" machine was produced in 2006, which features nine video terminals situated around a giant wheel in the middle. In this game, multiple players may become eligible for a bonus spin at any given time.

Pinball machines

Stern Pinball has announced plans to produce a Wheel pinball machine in late 2007 [http://www.sternpinball.com/wheel_of_fortune.shtml] . According to the Stern Pinball page on myspace.com, [http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=152218667] the machine is being designed by Dennis Nordman and Keith Johnson.

External links

*moby game|id=-group/wheel-of-fortune-licensees|name="Wheel of Fortune" series
* [http://www.station.sony.com/casualProduct.vm?Id=041 Wheel of Fortune] on Station.com
* [http://www.station.sony.com/casualProduct.vm?Id=006 Wheel of Fortune 2] on Station.com
* [http://www.penny-slot-machines.co.uk/reviews/wheel-of-fortune-slots.html Wheel of Fortune Slot Machine] Demo (non-US visitors only)

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