At some point in the mid-1990s, after both of my brothers had gone off to college, leaving me alone at home with my parents, I was rooting around in their old storage boxes, looking for stuff. No, I wasn’t looking for old porno mags or valuable baseball cards; I was looking for the Nintendo Entertainment System. Sure, I had my Super Nintendo or Nintendo 64 or whatever system was out at the time, but I was looking for something a little more classic. I sure found it all right, and a bunch of games for it, too. Jeopardy! is one of those games .
I’m sure that Jeopardy! isn’t the first name that comes to your mind when you think of the NES classics. Visions of Super Mario Bros. 3, The Legend of Zelda, and Metroid probably crop up in your brain sooner than does this mere trivia game. But make no mistake about it; Jeopardy! is a great title—its only fault is that some of the questions now are so dated that they’re almost unanswerable. I’m thinking specifically about those dealing with television shows from the ’80s that probably weren’t even famous when the game came out, let alone fifteen years later. It’d be like if you played a Jeopardy! game from the ’90s and it featured a question about the TV show Opposite Sex. What, you’ve never heard of Opposite Sex? Exactly my point. [Editor’s note: That’s because Opposite Sex didn’t come out until 2000…]
This game deserves some credit for its innovative control scheme—it’s one of the only NES games I can name off the top of my head that is three-player, and it’s the only NES three-player game I can think of period that doesn’t require some sort of multitap.
I’m sure all of you know how Jeopardy! works. The game asks you a question, and you and your friends (or you and the computer players, you friendless loser) have ten seconds to answer it. If you answer it correctly, you get whatever amount of money the question was worth. And, obviously, the person with the most total money at the end of the game wins.
Which brings me to the three-player part. If you have two friends playing the game with you, one person uses one controller to buzz in and answer the questions, and the other two use another controller, each using separate buttons to buzz in. This is a problem with the standard NES controller (as it it’s too small for two people to be sharing), but I’d bet that it works wondrously with the NES Advantage. That manipulation of the controller to make the game three-player is rather novel, and I feel obligated to give credit to Rare for implementing it.
As far as audio is concerned, this game has some downfalls, but that’s just because of the nature of the beast. There’s not much music at all except for the well-known “do do do do dodo do do” etc. Jeopardy! theme; and while that theme is translated well into NES-compatible notes, there isn’t much else to speak of. There’s the sound of a person buzzing in, which I suppose is a nice buzz sound, but that’s about it. Of course, you’ve got to understand that in rating this game’s sound, I’m comparing it to the audio of other trivia games for NES; so, in those terms, the sound isn’t half bad.
The graphics are nothing to write home about (though, that makes me wonder how amazing the visuals of a game would have to be before I fired off an e-mail to Mom and Dad about them), except that the characters are pretty cool-looking. There’s about six or seven different characters to choose from…though if you count the fact that you can chose these characters in several different shades of color, there’s around thirty different characters. I’d be screaming bloody murder (again…just like the “writing home” thing, I can’t see myself actually ever screaming, “bloody murder!!!!!!!” over the downfalls a video game, but whatever) if someone tried that on a current-gen title, but for the NES it’s pretty spiffy.
Of course, though, if you don’t like trivia games, you’re certainly not going to like Jeopardy!. I happen to enjoy trivia games quite a bit (especially ’cause they’re the one type of game that I can actually beat people at), and this game is a great trivia game, by golly! I’ve been playing it with my friends ever since I found it in that box all those years ago, even after coming into ownership of newer versions of the title. So, if you like answering seemingly random questions, and proving (or disproving) your intellectual superiority over those you game with, head over to GameStop and pick up Jeopardy! for the NES. Heck, even if you don’t, you should give Jeopardy! a whirl. It’s more than a fun little time waster; it’s a darn good game.