A quarter of a million pounds. 22 identical sealed boxes. No questions except one…How many minutes before I get bored?
If you’ve never seen Deal or No Deal before, it’s difficult to understand the fascination behind it. The contestants randomly select boxes, do they? Lasts for an hour, does it? Presented by Noel Edmonds, you say?
What can possibly be so great about that!?
These are the very questions I used to ask when I didn’t understand the show at all; back when I thought you could only appear on it if you had at least 21 friends to stand behind those other boxes! It was whilst I was being slaughtered by a few genetically engineered Japanese gamers in worldwide Mario Kart that I finally switched on and watched for the first time. And, within seconds, I’d joined the majority of Britain in praising TV’s first Noel as a legend, and becoming hooked by this simplest of games.
game lacks the most crucial element to the show’s success: the tension
After the conquering the globe, the series has now invaded the gaming world, most recently appearing on the Nintendo DS. However, as it fails to recreate the same compelling atmosphere that made the show such a success, randomly selecting boxes soon becomes as repetitive as it sounds!
Beginning with the good, the game’s most commendable feature is its loyalty to the show. As well as keeping the original format, it also utilises the exact same soundtrack; from the catchy theme tune down to the subtle ‘swoosh’ as those blues and reds slide away. Good use is also made of the DS’ dual screen feature, allowing you to touch open those boxes whilst the top screen keeps track of your progress and the all-important power five.
In addition, this game did something no Itbox or Internet version has done before; not only do you get to see the box, but also the face behind it! Finally, rather than simply picking by number, you can be as judgmental as you like with a whole cast of cartoon characters at the end of your stylus; both young and old, little and large, attractive and?other. As an extra touch, each character even adds their own unique sign of celebration or dismay as they make or break your game.
Unfortunately, whilst it is certainly entertaining for the first couple of tries, you’ll soon realise that the game lacks the most crucial element to the show’s success: the tension. That vital question, ‘Deal or no deal?‘ is meant to test the very nerve of the contestants as they decide whether to put their trust in fate and gamble thousands of pounds for the chance to win a life-changing amount of money. However, when you’re playing at home, where the only thing on the line is perhaps your wet laundry, you’ll find yourself tapping ‘No Deal’ without a second thought.
To prevent the game from becoming tedious, the developer’s introduced three additional elements to the gameplay. Unfortunately, two of these actually have the opposite effect! Firstly, there is the Three Box Trick that randomly pops up during every game. This is your run-of-the-mill ‘find the hidden item’ mini-game, where you may gain a bonus if you can find Noel’s mug in one of three shuffling boxes. Though when the boxes move so stupidly slowly, completing this game is even easier than teaching a cat to lick its own ass! Alternatively, you have the opportunity to play the game from the banker’s perspective, deciding how much you want to offer at the each interval. But when the computer player is easily coaxed into dealing within the first or second round, you have nothing more to do but watch the rest of the game, occasionally offering money for no reason, or perhaps offering £80,085 each time just to spell ‘Boobs’ in the banker’s calculator. If anything, it’ll give you a cheap giggle!
Theoretical, both of these elements were good ideas. In practice, banker mode is something you may only try a couple of times, and the Three Box Trick is something you’ll wish you never had to try again!
Fortunately, Forfeit mode was a more slightly more successful addition; an unlockable variation on the game where, rather than money, each box is filled with either a reward or a forfeit. Admittedly most of the pre-written rewards may not apply to adult players, such as, ‘you may stay up late tonight,’ or, ‘your family must organise your next birthday party.’ However, with enough points, you’ll be able to write your own forfeits, guaranteeing a good night if you invite some friends to try! Most importantly, the unlockable twist on this feature gives you a reason to maximise your winnings every time you play, perhaps prompting you to think a little more carefully whenever Noel pops that question. Though remember, you can always pick up and try again if a game doesn’t go your way, meaning there is still no real risk if you do lose to the banker!
Overall, fans of the show will certainly enjoy this game for a good couple of hours, and the ‘anything goes’ Forfeit mode will add some extra laughs. However, despite its best efforts, this is yet another version of Deal or No Deal that fails to capture that same addictive atmosphere of the show, and is likely to lose its audience after only a few games.
The Bad: With no real sense of risk, the game can become quite tedious, meaning you’re unlikely to be rushing back for more.