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Wheel of Fortune (Switch) artwork

Wheel of Fortune (Switch) review


"A detailed review of Wheel of Fortune (2017) / Ubisoft Chengdu - Frima Studios"


Originally conceived as “Shopper’s Bazaar,” Wheel of Fortune is the most popular game show on Earth. Countless attempts have been made to replicate its success; both from imitators, and from licensors recreating the fun in home versions. Ubisoft’s Wheel of Fortune (2017) cannot be judged for its faithfulness to the show, or its entertainment factor. This is because it often fails to meet the basic expectation that it be a functional, playable video game.

A delicious twist on Hangman, “Wheel” is pretty straightforward. Players guess missing letters from a puzzle until it reveals a popular phrase. Money is won by spinning the wheel, which determines the prize value of correctly guessed letters. Some tiles of the wheel pose danger, such as the Bankrupt tile. The winner of the round is the player that correctly guesses the hidden phrase.

The simplicity of Wheel of Fortune has made it a staple of gaming consoles for decades, dating back to the Atari 2600. But that is not to say these titles have steadily improved over time. This version of Wheel contains numerous bugs and underlying failures that get in the way of gameplay. It often struggles to recognize simple commands, such as choosing letters or spinning the wheel. Audio and video clips fire off independently of one another. The whole experience can feel incoherent and nightmarish.

When the game is functioning correctly, it is a standard translation of the show. It allows you to play in small groups at home, or you can connect to play against friends online. In my numerous attempts, it was very difficult -- sometimes impossible to connect with friends. Ubisoft’s Wheel of Fortune is best enjoyed in Local Play. It is recommended that all three Player roles are occupied by real humans, as the AI is merciless.

It also contains a new feature: dozens of unlockables to dress up the show’s set, or customize contestants and hosts. (It should be noted that longtime Wheel hosts Pat Sajak and Vanna White do not lend their likenesses to this game.) These give the bland proceedings a touch of personality, and are a welcome feature. Motion controls, when working, inject much-needed energy into the static, turn-based word game.

What is most remarkable is that even with its frustrating elements, Wheel of Fortune can still be fun to play. It is a well-trodden format that is deceptively simple, and can require strategy. It’s also able to be enjoyed by younger and older players alike. However, I cannot recommend this title in good conscience. There are too many other interpretations of this classic game on the market, each with the promise of being better than Ubisoft’s Wheel of Fortune (2017).

2/5

JoshTrujillo's avatar
Community review by JoshTrujillo (February 21, 2021)

Josh Trujillo is a writer, editor, and narrative designer based in Los Angeles. He has worked with clients including Marvel, HBO, Google, Telltale Games, Zynga, and DC Comics, among others.

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honestgamer posted February 21, 2021:

I was thinking about playing this game today, as my wife was binging "Wheel of Fortune" episodes on Netflix and I have the two-pack from Ubisoft that includes their versions of both Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! for Switch. I've played versions of Wheel of Fortune going back to the NES (Rare developed early versions of both TV shows for GameTek), so I was hopeful I would have a pretty decent time. This review does a good job of warning me not to expect that, though I wouldn't have minded a little more depth in description. For instance, how is the AI merciless? Does it solve puzzles too quickly, or avoid the Bankrupt space too easily? I didn't really see any grammatical issues throughout the text, with the exception of the last line. It seems to me the period should be outside the closing parentheses symbol, but that's a very small thing and the review was cleanly written without lingering so long as to bore potential readers. Thanks for sharing your impressions!

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