In the '70s, it was Match Game. In the '80s, Wheel of Fortune was king. Now, the biggest game show in town is Who Wants to be a Millionaire, a basic trivia game made more interesting by the lure of big money. This simplistic trivia game has influenced everything from the current pop-culture lexicon to men's fashions, and attempts to cash in on the game's success are everywhere. Millionaire clones are popping up all over the dial. Regis Philbin, the show's host, has his own line of ties. And numerous home versions of the game are available, ranging from simple board games to the PC game, which topped sales charts for weeks after its release. Now the PlayStation is getting into the act, with a port of the second edition of the PC game.
The game is excruciatingly simple: You're asked a series of multiple choice questions. As long as you keep answering correctly, your potential winnings grow. Miss one answer, and you lose. You'll be able to "keep" some of your winnings, depending on how far you get. If you're unsure of a correct answer, you're given three helpers, called lifelines. Each lifeline can be used only once per game. One lifeline polls the audience for the correct answer, and you're given percentages that show how an actual group of 100 people voted on that particular question. The 50/50 lifeline removes two of the incorrect answers, though it usually tends to remove the ones that are obviously incorrect. On the television show, the third lifeline lets you call one of your friends for the answer. Since that's sort of difficult on a PlayStation, Regis calls one of his friends, and a short, canned conversation between Regis and his friend ensues - usually resulting in a weak attempt at comedy. It's amazing that one of these conversations had to be produced for every question, but the execution is still a little stiff. And it's usually pretty easy to tell whether Regis' friend is giving you the correct answer. Throughout the game, Regis pipes up, letting you know what letter you chose, informing you of things like "you are so right," and of course, asking if your answer is a final one. Personally, I found Regis to be grating, annoying, and extremely repetitive. Plus, there's a real lack of energy in his lines. Also making the game more tedious are the extremely slow load times between questions, breaking up any sort of flow the game might achieve. This is one case where having a PlayStation 2 with the fast-load option enabled would come in handy.
The game has a multiplayer mode that emulates the fastest-finger round on the TV show. Here, you and a friend are asked to sort four items into the proper order, such as the order in which four TV shows debuted, Star Trek characters rank, or items simply are alphabetized. As soon as either of you has gotten it right (if you both get it right, the person to answer the fastest wins), it launches into the single-player game. While this properly acts like the TV show, it hardly qualifies as a two-player game.
In the end, all computerized trivia games come down to one thing: the number of questions. Who Wants to be A Millionaire doesn't have a terribly large bank of questions to choose from, and you'll probably start to recognize a few questions after only three or four sessions. If you're a fan of the show, you might get some enjoyment out of this, but trivia fans would be better served by Jellyvision's other PlayStation trivia game, You Don't Know Jack.