Minute to Win It

5.0 Overall Score

Written by on January 18, 2011 in

Amidst the plethora of mediocre and absurd game shows only one has stood out to me.  Minute to Win It is a game show as simplistic as its name but that, for me, is the nature of its appeal.  This game show’s Vegas-slick host, Guy Fieri, leads the contestants through a series of challenging tasks that use everyday items in very unusual ways.  Before each task a “blueprint” is presented with a somewhat robotic English-accented female voice outlining the rules for the challenge and how it must be successfully accomplished.  Each task needs to be completed in under a minute (hence the name).  The contestant starts with only three ‘lives’.  If they fail to complete the task then one life is gone.  The contestant will be eliminated if they lose all of their ‘lives’.  Each successfully completed task allows the contestant to decide whether they want to continue to the next challenge and the potential to win even more money or walk away with the cash they have already earned.  If the contestant is able to complete 10 tasks they will win 1 million dollars.  There are flaws with the game show, however.  The main one seems to be its decision to choose only attractive, fit, young contestants.  If you are tired of this than Zoo Games has given everyone the opportunity to play the game in the comfort of their own home.  Is it worth a purchase?  I will lay out the game’s blueprint and let you be the judge.

I have to admit that I had high hopes for this game.  It seemed like a natural fit for the Wii.  The Wii’s motion controller would allow fairly intuitive gameplay and produce a game filled with family fun.  The reality may be slightly disheartening to some.  First off I want to state that this game show, while fun and exciting to watch, the show has yet to produce a single millionaire to my knowledge.  These challenges are not for the faint of heart.  The video game is a true testament to the challenges a contestant must face, although the challenges may come in a different form in the video game.  I will go into details later.  The video game has a lot of things from the show.  It has the ‘Blueprint’ intro to each challenge, it has Guy Fieri as host, Guy giving his catch phrase before each challenge of “You’ve got a minute to win it, good luck”, snippets of the show’s theme song, and the same opportunity to win a million dollars using dime store products.  It even adds a couple of booth babes to stand behind Guy for some unknown reason.  It also puts Guy on a diet to slim him down a bit.  Things that I wish they had spent a bit more time to perfect are the graphics.  I am not asking for next gen realism, I am someone who accepts the lower quality Wii graphics as a fair trade for the fun and unique games they produce.  But these graphics could have been done using Microsoft Paint.  Even this is not a game killer in my mind.  The Wii is a console made for fun times and that is what I will base my final opinion on.

At the beginning of the game you select which mode you want to play.  There are three modes:  episodes, time trials, and training.  Once you select your game mode you will then select the avatar you wish to play as.  You will select your avatar from a few options.  I will warn you though that none of the options are very attractive and they left me wishing I could have just used my Mii to compete in the game.  After winning money from the game show you will be able to buy different clothing and hats.  This may hold some appeal for younger players but I was not excited with the other clothing options.

Here is a tip if you are hoping to engage a younger child or inexperienced player of this game I would highly recommend starting with the training mode.  This mode starts out allowing you to train for the first ten challenges.  You must win the first episode and the million dollars to unlock more and the so on.  In the end there are a total of 36 unique challenges to choose from.  I understand the fun some have in unlocking things but I would have preferred the ability to train for any of the challenges from the beginning.  I can’t stress enough how helpful the training portion of the game is.  I was hopelessly lost with the minimalist blueprint information and the brief description of the required controls for each challenge.  Expecting to figure everything out in under a minute is difficult if not near impossible at times.  There are vague reminders of the controls during the challenge but you might be far too busy to notice.  In training mode you can set the amount of time you want to complete the challenge from one minute up to 9 minutes.  This allows more time for a younger or inexperienced player to figure out the challenges.  This was extremely helpful for me. I only wish that this mode would have also given the player more detailed information on exactly how to play each challenge.  One help screen detailing the controls and the rules for the challenge would have been extremely beneficial for the games.  There were several challenges that took much trial and error to discover the rules and controls for the challenge.  For example, there is one challenge that requires the player to balance three golf balls, one on top of the other.  You rotate the nunchuck and the Wii-mote to center the two balls on top of the first ball.  Each ball shows an orange dot acting as a bubble level to help you center each ball.  I assumed once I hit the perfect centered balance I would have to just hold that balance for the required 3 seconds.  It wasn’t until much practicing that I realized I could just hit that perfect balance then click on the ‘A’ button to release the stack and see if it would stay standing for 3 seconds.  Once I figured this out I was a pro at the challenge.  All I needed was time and practice.  The setting for the training mode is a downtown condo which I think is a nice touch.  It gives you a feeling of training at home before heading to the big show.  Once you and your friends feel good about your skills it is time to move onto ‘Episode’ mode.  This is the big time.

In ‘Episode’ mode you are now playing the real game show in the flashy studio in front of a blurred out studio audience.  Here you will be given three lives to make it through 10 levels to win a million dollars.  The first episode will choose its challenges from the 10 challenges available in training mode.  There are several chances along the way to pause and you can skip the blueprint explanation and the silly looking displays of your avatar if you win or lose a challenge.  The thing I wished I could skip over is the extremely repetitive reactions of our beloved game show host.  “Look at all the money you’ve won” if things go well or “What a bummer” if things don’t.   The speeches are longer but I tended to tune out the rest.  There is also a mandatory intro speech by Guy at the beginning of each episode that is only helpful the first time you [play the game.  But enough talking about… well… dialog.  Let’s get to the game.  The challenges are difficult.  Some of the controls are just not as intuitive as I would have liked.  One prime example of this is the “Super Coin”.  For anyone familiar with the show this is the challenge that typically allows an audience member to win a million dollars by playing one challenge.  The challenge is to bounce a quarter off a table in such a way to get enough distance and accuracy to hit tiny open end of a large water bottle set across the room.  In the video game I would have imagined swinging the Wii-mote down while holding the ‘B’ trigger button until you release the ‘B’ button and release the coin.  Once released the Wii-mote could take the power of the swing and the orientation of the Wii-mote to calculate where the quarter will go.  This, however, is not how the game is played.  Instead you are presented with a horizontal slider bar and a vertical slider bar.  You must click the ‘A’ button when the horizontal slider bar hits the center.  Then you need to press the ‘A’ button again when the vertical slider bar hits the center.  Then you can swing the remote to toss the coin.  If you are able to hit the sweet spot on both slider bars, the coin will go into the water jug.  I am proud to state that I was actually able to win this challenge.  Sadly I have yet to receive the million bucks.  This is again why the practice mode is so important.

Lastly there is the ‘Time Trial’ mode.  This is where folks can show off their skills in a challenge that they are particularly good at.  Here you can choose from 3 difficulty levels:  ease, normal, and hard.  Once I felt cocky enough to show off I tried the Golf ball balancing challenge.  Here I could attempt to balance 3 golf balls three times in 60 seconds on easy, balance them six times in 2 minutes for normal, or ten times in three minutes for hard.  The time trial also takes place in that downtown condo.  These three modes allow a player to enjoy the game in several different ways.  One last aspect of the game is the multiplayer.

This game encourages multiplayer allowing up to four players to play the game together.  To put the social aspects of the game to the test I recruited the aid of one of my nephews and my niece, ages 14 and 11.  I have to admit that I was worried that they would find the difficulty a bit much and get frustrated.  Yes it is hard and yes we did not win the million while playing but my nephew admitted to me that the extra difficulty just made it more addictive and made him more determined to beat the challenges.  My niece summed her experience with the game up in three words, “HARD, but awesome”.  Something that I think would have helped make the game more accessible to a greater range of players would be to allow game customization.  For example, allow each player the opportunity to adjust the time allowed in episode mode.  Yes that would make the game’s title incorrect but would allow gamers of different abilities to play together.

Overall the game remains true to the heart of the TV show.  The basic rules, the voices, the music, and the stage are all fairly good representations.  Yes the game falters in graphic quality and dialog.  And there is definitely a learning curve if you want to master the challenges.  But, honestly I do not expect the journey to win a million dollars to be a cake walk.  The difficulty makes each win even sweeter.  In the end I found myself agreeing with my nephew.  Despite its faults I have to admit I enjoyed the game.  I would love to see the framework they have set up refined to a point where I could play the game using the Kinect on my Xbox.  Talk about the perfect marriage of platform and gameplay.  Are you listening out there game gods?

A copy of Minute to Win It was provided to The Married Gamers for review and evaluation.

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Author: Melisa Snyder View all posts by

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