Review by Psycho Penguin
"Iff your badd ate speeling, plez avoide"
We all have seen the game show Jeopardy at least one time in our lives. It's one of the best game shows to watch on television, because it puts your brains to the test, and you can play along with the people on the game show. Some fools decided to come along and port this experience onto the NES, just because everything in the history of the world had to be ported onto the NES. I'm surprised we didn't see a game based off Christopher Columbus where you go around killing ice cream store owners and claiming you discovered ice cream. Jeopardy was one of the five worst ideas that could have popssibly been ported onto the system. Not that it was such a bad idea overall, but the format of the game was just too laughable.
Making things even worse was that they decided to make a kids version of the game called Jeopardy Jr. Fortunately, this game didn't turn out half bad, but it could have been better. I did like how the game was based more for kids than the normal Jeopardy, but from time to time some of the questions just seemed too laughable. That was one of the three main flaws with Jeopardy Jr., and those are the reasons why it didn't get a higher score, because this game, like the rest of Jeopardy games, are fun, but suffer from a lot of problems.
The basic format of the game is just like regular Jeopardy. At the beginning of the game, you can choose a difficulty level, and then select a name for your character. You can play as more than one character, which boggles my mind, as I never actually tried it for obvious reasons. That's a pretty interesting idea in principal, and I'm assuming it's for a multiplayer mode or something, because it's hard to control more than one character at the same time, I assume. You can play by yourself, or get 1 or 2 computer challengers to join you, and then you begin. The setup is like Jeopardy, you get the 6 categories, dollar signs, daily doubles, it's just the same, except the questions and graphics are clearly for a minor audience. The game can prove to be a lot of fun. It's still Jeopardy, and answering questions never gets old. Plus, the format of the game is geared for the younger generation, as I already mentioned, so little kids will enjoy to play this game a lot.
The major problem with Jeopardy Jr. is the same problem that all Jeopardy games suffer from. You don't get multiple choice, which would have been an okay alternative. Instead, you have to move the controller around letters and then select letters to form words. You get 40 seconds to answer a question properly. You, for some unknown reason, don't even have to say ''What is'' or ''Who is'' like you would in normal Jeopardy, so I assume the game automatically fills in that question for you. I guess it kind of helps, because no one wants to waste 10 seconds finding the letters for ''What is'' before even beginning to type in the rest, because the 40 second time limit you get is barely enough time to fill in some answers most of the time. Typing in answers using the control pad gets annoying quickly, as you will soon see.
Plus, for a game that is devoted to ''juniors'', some of the questions are borderline retarded. Most kids are not going to know the name of the street that the British Prime Minister lives on, for instance. Heck, the game doesn't even say ''British Prime Minister'', it just says ''Prime Minister'', and I'm pretty sure Canada has a Prime Minister, too. That's one of the many instances where a poorly asked or challenging question is presented. I am aware that the questions should be somewhat challenging as they get up in dollar amounts, but the game should have been set solely on asking questions that 12-year olds would know the answer to. There's no reason for the game to have these kinds of questions. A kid is probably not going to know the answers of half these questions unless he's a child genius, and then regular Jeopardy would be better off for him.
Don't expect the computer to help him out, either. Sometimes, the computer will answer the questions correctly (with blazing fast speed), and sometimes it will respond with some of the most manical and stupid things I have ever seen. One time the computer responded to the Prime Minister question with the correct answer (Downing Street), and the next question was a simple ''What city does the Cardinals baseball team play in?'' and the same person answered with ''****!?'' I swear to you that's what they said, and I was sitting there completely dumbfounded. I thought it was a bug in the game, then the next computer opponent responded with ''GHTYGHFR''. I was totally stunned at this point and was ready to turn the game off, but fortunately I knew the answer to it (The next World Series Champs of course, St. Louis). It is a huge bug, however, and they could have just responded with wrong answers instead of looney tunes answers like that.
The controls are not that good, sadly. To answer a question, you appear to have to push left on your control pad. Why you have to do this is beyond me, as I was pushing A and B for at least two minutes while the other players kept chiming in ahead of me, and it started to piss me off more and more. Fortunately, once I actually discovered that all you have to do is push left, it became easier for me to chime in, but the process is still flaws, and the selection of buttons is poor. Plus, moving your control pad around to select letters is a tricky situation, and the exclusion of a command that allows you to manually backspace (geez, the B button is available, you know) is bad. I hate having to go all the way to the backspace key just to delete a mistake I made because using the control pad to type in letters is tricky to begin with. So, I didn't like the controls too much at all, and felt they did more to hurt the game than help it.
Plus, the game is not exactly the best looking game in the world. The developers tried their hardest to make the Jeopardy screen look as realistic as possible, and they did a good job with it, but some of the colors are a little off, and it looks a tad ugly. It's still okay, though, especially compared to the character models. These are some of the ugliest kids I have ever seen. They are poorly drawn and fit every child stereotype out there, from the red-headed kid with freckles to the girl with a purple bow in her hair. But they are drawn so hideously that I couldn't help but sigh every time I saw them. Plus, you won't ever see the host of the show for some reason (COME OUT TREBEK!), and the game uses some poor color choices a lot of the time. It's a decent looking game, but it tries too hard to be childish from time to time, and the results are a mixture of realistic-looking graphics and hideous character designs from hell.
Fortunately, you won't have to put up with much music during the game, which can be good or bad. The bad is that you won't hear the classic Jeopardy theme playing as you answer your questions at the end of the game. That upset me, because I love that song, as I am sure many other people do, and the exclusion of it is a bit of a downer. The upside to this is that the music probably would have sounded horrible anyways. Just imagine a childish song playing as you went to answer a question with your little control pad. It would not have been the best situation in the world, so I am glad to a certain extent that there was no music during game play. There are sound effects, though, and they do sound pretty good, which is more than what I expected. They never get on your nerves, besides the chiming in sound, which is a little too high-pitched for my tastes.
The game has a lot of flaws that prevent it from being too replayable, but for some reason I was strangely hooked to this game. Maybe it's because my friend was hooked to it, and I decided to check it out, and it somehow grew on me for a while too. Despite the flaws, the game still is pretty fun, and that's why it is getting a higher score than you might expect. It's not the most replayable game in the world, but for those of us that don't know everything there is to know in the world, Jeopardy Junior is a nice alternative. That's why the Junior tag is a little mislabeled in my opinion. The game is not for Juniors as much as it's for people who can't answer all the questions in Jeopardy, like me. Once you get used to the flaws in the single player game, you will be hooked, and mutliplayer is even better, because you'll be racing to see who gets what answer first.
It's a pretty challenging game, too, especially as you start to get to the later dollar values. The game plays a lot like Jeopardy, so don't expect rocket scientist questions on the 100 dollar questions, but once you get to 500 or 1,000, the questions become pretty tough. The biggest challenge is actually knowing the questions for yourself, becausr the computer is kind of dumb from time to time. It's sometimes better to play by yourself, just to warm up. The game only has so many questions, though, so repeated categories and questions will annoy you after a while. Plus, some of the questions are easy, but some are hard as hell, and that's the biggest problem with the challenge. Also, some of the questions have fake answers (Babies learn to creep before they walk? Really? Cuz I'm a creep?) and that can prove to be quite annoying. The biggest challenge is simply knowing the material, and not so much the computer opponents.
Despite all these flaws, I still enjoyed Jeopardy Jr. a lot more than you might expect. It has this strange aura around it, one that very few games can match. Sure, inputting words with the control pad can get to be a little annoying. A multiple choice option would have been preferred for sure. Plus, the computer opponents answer quite dumbly sometimes, and the questions can have wrong answers to them, so even if you're right, it'll say you're wrong. Bad spellers can look elsewhere, as you have to spell everything exactly right here. That's a big problem in the other Jeopardy games, but not so much here. Most of these words can be spelled if you're somewhat intelligent. The problem is, of course, you're bound to make a typo, or run out of time inputting the answer. Other then these flaws, which are numerous, I still loved this game. You probably won't, because the game is too flawed, but for those who are looking for a solid Jeopardy game that won't murder you with challenging as hell questions, this is a nice alternative.
Just remember that babies creep before they walk and you'll be okay.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.0 - Fair
Originally Posted: 07/06/03, Updated 07/06/03
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