Ludia makes another attempt at the game show genre, this time with The Price Is Right. Fortunately, it’s better than their first flop, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, but it doesn’t fare much better, mainly because they messed with a classic in my opinion. If you haven’t heard about The Price Is Right, here’s the synopsis:

The longest-running game show in TV history brings the excitement of 40 years of pricing fun right into your living room! Feel the thrill of being called to “Come on down” to four different decades of the show. Play over 40 pricing games from the last four decades, including rare games taken from the TV show vault and brand new games never seen in any previous versions. Sit on Contestant’s Row – where you’re always the next contestant! If you make it far enough, you can even Spin the Wheel for a chance at a payoff in the Showdown. Play on your own, or challenge a friend in local multiplayer. Authentic show music and sound effects round out a true-to-TV game show experience.

Overview

Well, we weren’t quite sure what to expect with this one, but in my opinion, The Price Is Right is a touchy area as you are messing with one of the most popular and beloved game shows as well as the most popular host. I don’t think anyone over the age of 18 does not know who Bob Barker is. In this game, you will not know who Bob Barker is because he’s not in the game, but there are at least bonus videos of him but it’s just not the same.  To sum it up, it’s basically a Wii port with some Kinect controls added on (you don’t have any options with Kinect). For whatever reason, maybe because of my love for The Price is Right, I went into major detail about this game.

The Menu

The game is controlled with the controller and even that doesn’t work all the time with some of the pricing games. I thought Kinect controls were bad in some games but this isn’t acceptable. The Kinect add-on that is included does use the hover and lock method, but you don’t get to choose any options. You are presented with 4 options in the Main Menu to start, Single Player, Multiplayer, Kinect Party and Options which only has volume and the ability to turn off the tutorials and the subtitles.

Single Player

I suppose this is more or less the campaign mode of the game. An avatar girl (I’m not sure if she’s supposed to represent one of Bob’s girls, but avatars don’t cut it for me) is going through some old VHS tapes of old episodes of The Price Is Right (TPiR from now on). You basically have to play each episode to unlock the episode and put the tape on the episode shelf to organize them. Yes you don’t have to win the showcase, however if you do win the showcase, you unlock a bonus video but most of them don’t have anything to do with the particular episode. It is one show per year and they are random so you don’t play sequential years in a row.

It includes shows from the years 1972 to 2010, however some of them are the same pricing games, which I really have no idea why they couldn’t use more different pricing games as there are like 70 or something. There are 39 episodes in total, I’m guessing the 40th one they mention in the synopsis is the Multiplayer version which is just a random one with no year, but it has all recent items so it may be for 2011. Anyhow, I’ll explain the way the game show works.

Introduction

First, you are presented with the frame border back from the older shows with the lightbulbs while the camera searches the crowd, except it’s a 4:3 aspect which is understandable and fine for the older shows, but it’s the same thing for every single year. The new border on the current show is much different. The reason I’m nitpicking this game is there are things in the game that I would have never caught, so I don’t understand why some things were included in detail, but others were not.

Anyhow, after the camera searches for your avatar and finds you, they are using George Gray as the announcer (which is this years latest) for the entire game, and tells you to “Come On Down” so at least that part is in there, but again, I’m confused. There are items in the game that have the original announcers voices, why didn’t they bother doing the same thing with the introductions and use the announcers from that year?  Instead George Gray is also your host voice – there isn’t a host in the game, again, I’m just shaking my head. They could have at least used Drew Carey if they didn’t have time to cut and edit Bob’s voice.

Once you start dancing or whatever, you will notice that the avatar crowd becomes 2D, I was pretty astonished, it just looks shabby and the camera even rotates so you can see they are flat and I thought I was playing Paper Mario for a second – no disrespect to Paper Mario, I actually like that game. I did realize after about the 500th time playing, these are upgraded Mii’s which I’m guessing is why they are 2D, but even Mii’s are 3D minus their arms and legs, possibly the Mii to Xbox avatar converter doesn’t take their 3D aspect in with them or something.

Another thing I’m going to nitpick about, for whatever reason, no one has name tags. I know it’s not really a big deal, but if you are going to make a game authentic it needs the price tag name tags. But they did make it where it says “The New Price Is Right” from 72-80 on the logo for the introduction. This is one of the bonus videos, this is the kind of game I was expecting, maybe I am expecting too much:

Contestant’s Row

So, after you make your way to Contestant’s Row, you get to bid on an item. The item is presented via a TV, although the TV I’d say is more current generation for every year. Real pictures are displayed of the item on the TV and the original announcers voice describes the item and the real music plays from that era. This is what I’m saying, why spend the effort of making some parts authentic and other parts not. It’s confusing on what the developer was thinking or if they ran out of time.

Anyhow, I’m sort of OK with this method of displaying items, because it does show the items from that particular year. You will see some old things you parents used to have in their homes, heck I even remember some of the items on the show itself saying, “Hey I remember that episode!”, so it does bring back a lot of memories. If the items were to be displayed in the avatar world, with the avatar girls, it may have been somewhat more authentic, but also maybe a little cheesy since the whole avatar scene is just too cartoony and I’m just not sure how a 1970’s Patio Set would have looked in a 3D cartoon world. There are also a ton of items in the game, so to actually convert everything to 3D graphics, I can understand why it may not have been done.

Probably the best of both worlds would have worked with just playing the actual video portion with the girls sitting on the items or displaying them like they always did, but then again, we don’t know the state of some of the old episodes so the video may not have been usable, so that’s why I’m not really tearing apart this section as it does work for what it is. They did also leave everything as is, so they are all real items with real manufacturers such as Whirlpool, Maytag, Datsun, Dodge, etc. After the item is shown and the features pointed out, you then start the bidding on it.

Bidding

This part is somewhat messed up as well. You are always the last to bid unless you play the Kinect version or multiplayer. Being last obviously gives you an advantage so I don’t mind this part, but let’s face it, this game is pure luck as who knows where they get their retail pricing from, so being last does actually help you. The problem is it’s almost too easy. Reason being is that the other contestants have no AI whatsoever. They have set prices they pick from randomly, you are even shown this in the Kinect version. Basically you run into 2 situations, the first being that one contestant will bid really high and usually over, another will bid will really low and another one will bid something close to the low bidder but higher. All you have to do is bid $1 more than the second lowest bid and it’s typically an automatic win.

The other method they try to throw you off with is everyone will bid really low, so you just bid $1 more again than the highest bidder and you’ll win. I suppose it doesn’t matter as you typically just want to play the pricing games anyway, but it is part of the show so what they did in case you do lose, you can bid on 5 different items then you actually lose the game and have to start the episode over. It’s ok for what it is, human opponents make it more interesting though. They did even put in the overbid problem where rarely all contestants will overbid. They also added being able to bid the exact price on the items and getting a cash bonus. Once you get the 3 exact bids achievement, there’s no point to try to guess the exact price anymore though.

Another thing I question is, if we have to use avatars, why not change-up their clothes? For each era, the studio is as it was in that time frame, I think the 80’s started with the flower power things on the floor and on the showcase, etc. Those are in the game, but your avatars in this era’s clothing styles just don’t fit into the nostalgic look they gave the older episodes and a lot of it is not as detailed as it should have been. You’ll notice some contestants wearing an Xbox shirt (which last I knew, didn’t exist in 1974) or the Power button symbol.

Anyhow, after you win the bid, you then go on stage and proceed to the pricing game. There is only one game you play per episode which is fine since that’s how it works anyway. What bugs me is between all of the pricing games still being played and with the retired ones, there’s like over 100. In this game, there are only 30 actual games. 10 of them you play twice just in different time periods. It’s really unfortunate as there are so many pricing games and they really should have used all of them in this style of TPiR and it’s almost needed as we all know how much content was included in Kinect Disneyland Adventures. This game is just another example of how much content is lacking. For the games that are included, I just included a list, as most fans will know most of them. All of them are played, rule-wise, just like their real counterparts as well.

The Pricing Games

  • Bonus Game
  • Money Game
  • Race Game
  • Ten Chances
  • Hurdles
  • Professor Price
  • Punch A Bunch
  • Penny Ante
  • Now and Then
  • Super Ball!!
  • Check-Out
  • Plinko
  • Golden Road
  • Walk of Fame
  • Hole In One
  • Pathfinder
  • Spelling Bee
  • Grocery Game
  • CliffHanger
  • Magic#
  • Cover Up
  • Side by Side
  • It’s In The Bag
  • 3 Strikes
  • Bonkers
  • Coming or Going
  • Pass The Buck
  • Dice Game
  • Gas Money
  • Rat Race

Even though there are not as many pricing games included that I was hoping for, they still are pretty authentic. If you lose, as I did in some of the videos, you will hear the sound effects and music is very authentic as well as the items descriptions by the announcers. For whatever reason, the girls (I’m assuming the avatar ones are supposed to be them) are only in some of the games. I did feel out-of-place using a controller though on some of the games, especially Hole in One, pressing and holding the A button just sucks compared to being able to putt with Kinect, so I don’t really understand what the need of a controller was for. It stands true though for playing the Kinect games as well, such as Super Ball is just stupid, you’ll see in the video below.

Some more nitpicking, there is a crowd while you are playing, but they don’t help you like they do in the show. It would have been really neat if you could actually hear voices yelling out to help you like in the show. There’s also games where you don’t know what the prices/outcome is, where as the actual show always showed the contestant how they could have won, typically for every game. There’s even a video unlock in the game that shows one with Drew Carey as the host, so I’m really not sure why some games are missing this.

Showcase Showdown (The Big Wheel)

Whether or not you win or lose your pricing game, you will always get a chance to spin the big wheel. You are always the last one to spin, and your opponent always has the amount you have to beat. Why we couldn’t have taken a couple of extra minutes to throw in watching the other players with a skip option is beyond me to make it last a little longer, or even let the player spin first and have the option to spin again or stay. They did put in the bonus spin though when you land on the $1.00, and they put in the tiebreaker as well. What I would have really liked to see is the real deal with a host, whether it’s Bob or someone else, preferably Bob :), but have him talk to your character like they do on the show to really immerse you into it. We could probably even respond back to him via Kinect. The whole thing could have just been more authentic in my opinion. As long as you beat your opponent, you will go to the Showcase portion, otherwise you lose and the episode is over.

The Kinect functionality of the Big Wheel is just odd. You raise one arm up for 3 seconds and then bring it down and it spins the wheel for you. I don’t think anyone has ever spun the Big Wheel with one hand. Carnival Games Monkey See Monkey Do did a much better job at the wheel game than these guys did. It also doesn’t matter how fast/hard you swipe down either, it’s always the same speed. This made me feel that Kinect was added onto it and was not originally part of the game plan.

Showcases

The Showcases are more or less authentic, minus the girls, and it does include winning both Showcases if you bid within $100-$250 of yours. You are presented with your Showcase, announcements and music, and then given the option to Bid on it, or Pass it to the other player. You will always be presented with the first showcase unless you are playing multiplayer or Kinect, then it’s a little different which I explain. After you make your bids, the retail price is shown and the winner is decided. If you win or lose, that’s the end of it. What in the heck happened with being all excited and running over to your prizes and dancing with the girls?! I was really expecting a Kinect mini-dance game after you won, but nothing. The one game we needed some creativity on, we barely get any.

That’s all the game is basically. Now my review may have taken you a good time to read it, but the review is longer than actual gameplay. One episode, if you make it all way, is typically over in about 10-15 minutes. If you lose right away, it can only last 2 minutes. More than likely, you will lose quite a few times unless you are that super lucky person that wins all the time, so after about an hour, the game gets boring, mostly due to it being repetitive. It took me about 4 hours or so to actually unlock all of the games but I was also messing around with the Kinect and Multiplayer as well. Here is a video of a full Kinect show, as you can see it’s not very long:

Better with Kinect

The whole aspect of being Better with Kinect is a bold statement with this title. Sure, some parts are better with Kinect, but others don’t use Kinect to its full potential. I just don’t understand what happened, however, because of the lack of content and support, I think not enough time was spent with Kinect, and that is simply unfortunate. I had such high hopes for this game and I think Kinect would have really topped it off.

Multiplayer

At least to not completely be bored with the game, they did include both local multiplayer and Xbox Live multiplayer. It makes it a little more interesting and it does last longer, but not much. You still can only play one episode at a time and what sucks is there’s no options for both modes. There really should have been some customization allowed in here with setting up some kind of competition or something choosing more than one pricing game. Reloading after each episode is just a pain, but for the achievement getter, they really want you to play online in order to earn them, but I just don’t see this happening.

Local multiplayer is kind of different. Both players play simultaneous throughout the entire episode, which is a 2011 episode I’m assuming since everything in it is recent. You take a turn bidding on the item in Contestant’s Row, and using a controller you can input any number. Player 1 is first, Player 2 is second. Whether you win or lose, you still move on to the play the pricing game, whereas Single Player makes you keep bidding on new items until you actually win. Once you are on the pricing game, it then turns into simultaneous play.

I played Magic# and one other game, but we both had to choose our price and then confirm it. Everything is timed by the way, so one player can’t hold up the game. The whole point of multiplayer is to win by collecting cash, not really whether you win or lose. Anyhow after the pricing game, you move into Showcase Showdown with the Wheel. You both spin at the same time and then wait. Depending on the outcome, you can spin again or stay, not sure why stay wasn’t included in single player, but anyway, after this, you then move onto the showcase unless one of you went over $1.00.

The showcase is a little different as well, there’s only one showcase and you both bid on it. Whoever has the least difference amount without going over, will win, and basically win the game as the showcase is worth the most money, so it does give a one player a chance to win the overall game. The online version is the same. That’s all there really is to it.

Kinect Party

This is the Kinect Add-on and it’s somewhat depressing. I’m not sure if you can play every game, but it does throw in random episodes for you to play. I played about 10 of them and most of them repeated, with a couple of different ones thrown in here and there and there’s really no way to confirm if every game has Kinect functionality. The only major difference is with Contestant’s Row, you can’t enter in your own pricing. 4 choices are displayed and you have to pick one of those and if playing by yourself or with another person, the CPU will choose the other options (this is where they get their pricing from), which is really lame. Why in the world we cannot use voice blows my mind. It would have been really cool to just speak the price like the real deal. As for the controls, most are very basic or even below basic, whatever that may be. Super Ball has to be one of the stupidest ones, they took the press and hold/release A method, and converted to a pushing motion which doesn’t work at all. Are we really still trying to figure out how to throw an imaginary ball underhand? Check it out below, this is a full Kinect episode, but you’ll get the idea:

Conclusion

Well, at least it’s better than their first title, but still not up to expectations in my opinion. My guess is they were overwhelmed working on 2 different game show games. If you have a love for TPiR like I do, you will probably be disappointed. It’s fun for about an hour, but then it’s one of those been there, done that titles so I would suggest a rental or waiting for the bargain bin if you must have it. The achievements will keep you busy though for a few days but they will get you frustrated due to some of them being solely based on luck, not skill or time. I suppose the good out of it is that it may make a good party game or something. It seems everyone that I had over this weekend was interested in it. My mom stopped by to visit and it held her interest (she’s 65), some twentyish year old girls were over and they were asking me questions about it wanting to play and it also held my kids interest, so that’s why I gave it a 5 (instead of even lower). It’s one of those up in the air titles that you just don’t really know for sure.

I would have loved it if more pricing games were included and they could have really taken this type of game to a new level, since you win items and not just money. Why couldn’t you use your items in mini-games, like driving the cars you win, or using the boats/jet ski’s and stuff. They could have went as far as having a sims type backend where you can put all your items in your house, and upgrade them with newer items you win on the more recent shows, something along those lines, who knows, it just could have been better.

Hopefully Ubisoft has learned a lot by trying to dominate Kinect releases this holiday season in the sense that more isn’t always better and really consider what titles they plan to release to keep them in the game. I know what we learned from this experience is that every game Ubisoft publishes isn’t a great one and it works both ways. If another game show attempt is made, please consider making it a full-fledged game like the guys who made Minute To Win It, as that game still reigns as the game show king in my book.


This review is based on a retail copy of the Xbox 360 version of The Price Is Right: Decades
Scoring policy: What do these game review scores actually mean?