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CONSOLE: NES DEVELOPER: Rare PUBLISHER: GameTek
RELEASE DATE (NA): March 1990 GENRE: Puzzle
// review by Jeff

Familiar Edition.

Okay, okay, okay... let me get this straight. Picture it: September 1988. Rare develops a game based on the ever-popular American television game show Wheel of Fortune, and GameTek, an up-and-coming fresh-faced publisher, sent it out to all the lovely game stores in America. Okay, that's fine, that's dandy. Then, a year later, in October 1989, GameTek dropped another bombshell on us in the form of Wheel of Fortune: Junior Edition, aimed at the younger crowd, using the same code, graphics, music, everything. That seems a little indolent, a little slothful if you will, but if kids were finding the original game too difficult, I suppose we should help them out a little. But then... only FIVE months later, in March 1990, GameTek did it a THIRD time with Wheel of Fortune: Family Edition. Same damn game yet again! How could they possibly have graced us with such splendor in the same month as Fisher-Price: Perfect Fit and Fisher-Price: I Can Remember? It was a great month to be an NES owner, wouldn't you say?

Think about this carefully for a moment. Wheel of Fortune: FAMILY Edition. Who exactly was playing the original Wheel of Fortune game? Hobos, winos, and lonely bartenders? This version is specifically for people who have procreated and the results of that procreation. If you're single, this cartridge will immediately reject your candidacy as a contestant, shun you out of the recording studio, and then proceed to melt into molten lava in your very hands. Seriously, who is this for?


Annoyed Family Member: "Why did you waste your money on this?"

To make matters even worse, it's the same bloody game interface. They've now had a year and a half, and the game doesn't look any prettier. Rare couldn't have even been bothered to add a few frills and twinkles to the HUD? No? But they DID change Vanna's dress again, this time to a lush and illustrious silver sheen. Too bad they didn't bother to try and make her look remotely human. Oh, but they DID bother to change the floor's colouring to magenta and the outside of the spinning wheel to a majestic drowning-in-Lake-Michigan blue. I must say, long winter nights were spent on these massive palette swaps. I hope GameTek raked in enough money to cover the exorbitant costs.

Wheel of Fortune: Family Edition boasts "over a thousand challenging puzzles" and new categories of puzzles as well. The same Hangman-style gameplay in the same drab studio where you guess the same letters remains the focus. If you've totally overplayed the first two games and need another fix, this game will whet your whistle until that whistle is adequately satiated. The only other major difference is that there's actually a brand new soundtrack here! Well, okay, it's partially a new soundtrack. They replaced about half of the music, though most of the little jingles, such as choosing a letter successfully, are still the same.

Do you need a third version of Wheel of Fortune on your NES? Are we this desperate? Can you not just whip out a piece of paper and play Hangman with your family for ten minutes before it gets old? In today's market, the extra puzzles would be called "DLC" and you'd be charged a small pittance, but back then, it was called "a new game", and you'd have to pay the regular price! Wheel of Fortune: Family Edition is just a cash grab, and I'd suggest staying away unless you can't get enough of Vanna White's sweet, blank, haunting, pixelated face.


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