October 23, 2008

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The Price is Right (DS/Wii/PC)
UBI Soft, Sept. 9, E

By Glenn "Barker's Beauties" Given production@hippopress.com
The makers of Far Cry, Assassin’s Creed and, uh, Petz Hamsterz 2 (?) invite you to COME ON DOWN and play this pile of crap.

I remember a time not so long ago when taking a day off work or school due to illness  was not something extraordinary. On those days, my get-well ritual included an hour in front of Bob Barker and his objects of sexual harassment crossing my fingers that every pricing game was going to be PLINKO! And that everybody had a chance to win… A NEW CAR!!!!!!!!! My wife shares this same fascination with capitalism-deifying game shows and so in her latest bout of plague she picked up The Price is Right in a strange bout of cross-marital hobby-embracing.

I’m sorry to say that this lives up neither to the strobing lightbulb schlocky joy of the syndicated show nor to my wife’s noble intentions. Players pick one of eight (four on the DS) different contestants and immediately start bidding on low-budget furniture. But hey, it doesn’t matter what you bid ’cause you’re going to make it out of Contestant’s Row and get to play a Pricing game for A BRAND NEW (ahem, 2006) CAR!!!! Of course, much like its TV brother most all of the mini-games involve simply guessing the item price, a task that becomes blisteringly easy after the limited array of possible products has been exhausted in a few run-throughs.

And no matter how you spin the wheel during Showcase Showdown you’re still going to the Showcase and you’ll still be declared some sort of winner as, in the end, apparently there are no losers in capitalism (at least that’s what the Federal Reserve and Treasury are preaching these days). In a weird hark backward to the original run of The Price is Right the game simply adds up the value of prizes you’ve won into a score at the game’s end. Rinse, repeat. Problems? Oh nelly, first off, every game is boring and while Barker (and now Carey) do an admirable job chit-chatting us flu victims through the boredom on the telly, herein it is displayed in all its stale glory. The animation is sub-par and the only time you see Barker is in unlockable blooper reels that have the gall to include commercials. Additionally the multi-player is a frustrating mess as prize amounts for success at mini-games can frequently overshoot those of showcases, making a showcase loser who won a pricing game win in defiance of game show logic. You know what, you can COME ON DOWN to your couch and watch The Price is Right for free rather than sink $20-$40 on a crap home version. D — Glenn Given