I didn't expect much from the 1 vs. 100 live beta test. I expected to go in, have a reasonably fun time, answer a few questions and be done with it. Based on the canceled NBC game show (starring Full House father Bob Saget), 1 vs. 100 features one contestant going up against a mob of 100 trivia monsters. Will the One be able to knock everybody out and earn the top prize? No, probably not, but I wasn't going to hold that against it. I was just there to see what it was like and prove my dominance at all things trivia.
But a funny thing happened as I played through 1 vs. 100, I found myself constantly being reminded of the TV show. I know, I know, that doesn't sound too crazy or out of the norm. But it wasn't the normal things that felt similar. I expected the game's general layout and gameplay to be the same as the TV show, that's a given. But it was all of the little things that surprised me about 1 vs. 100. To help explain the disturbing similarities between the game and the show, I have decided to go through my day with Microsoft's newest must-play arcade game to prove once and for all that yes, it's exactly like 1 vs. 100!
Very Little Chance of Actually Making Money
When I first heard that I could take part in the 1 vs. 100 beta, I was excited to see if I would be able to take part in the mob or, more importantly, be that "One" that battles those 100 losers to the end. Unfortunately I quickly realized that more than
So when the mob splits 2100 points, does that mean I'm left with 21 points?
100,000 other people had the exact same thought. I logged into 1 vs. 100 and was happy to play along, but with so many people playing it felt like my chances of doing anything really important were hopeless at best. What's more, when you actually do get to be part of the "real" show, you have to put up with some really terrible prizes. The most I saw anybody win was 1,600 Microsoft Points, or $20 to you and me. $20? That's it? I guess it's better than going home with the home game.
It's always hard getting on your favorite game show, just ask those crazy people that wait in line for days just to get ridiculed on American Idol. It's even harder to get on a trivia game show. When it comes to Jeopardy you are forced to take tests and prove your mettle. Who Wants to Be a Millionaire requires you to call a special hotline and answer a bunch of fast-finger questions. 1 vs. 100 may actually be the hardest trivia game show to get on ... but that's only because the show was canceled back in 2008. Even when NBC was producing new episodes, you still had to put up with a limited run and celebrities getting in your way. Each of the hour-long episodes only had a few regular people, and since NBC only produced a handful of episodes, you didn't stand a very good chance making it into prime time and taking home the million dollar prize. Bummer.
Those Easy Questions
I hate to sound like an egomaniac, but I'm good at entertainment trivia. Not only do I watch a lot of game shows, but I play along at home and keep tally of who I do. I'm a nerd for sifting through lame entertainment news stories and constantly keep track of what's going on in the video game, movie, music and
Jeopardy? No, 1 vs. 100 is more like Celebrity Jeopardy!
television industries. Going into 1 vs. 100 I figured that my superior knowledge of entertainment would help me. Unfortunately I quickly realized that the questions are so easy that a lobotomized chimp with the TV turned off could answer this stuff. At one point the game actually asked me what the 24th letter of the alphabet was, with the options of (I kid you not) A, X, or B. Another question had me guessing what first-person shooter Zack Efron was a fan of. Maybe that would be hard if they gave us three first-person shooters to choose from, but the choices had only one FPS game, the hugely popular Call of Duty 4. I'm not asking for Jeopardy-level questions, but at least make them harder than Street Smarts.
While the TV show's questions may not be as difficult as those found in the game, they are still significantly easier that what was found on other game shows. Your average Jeopardy contestant could go entire episodes without missing a question, in fact some famous contestants did make the leap. But it's not just Jeopardy, compared to 1 vs. 100, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire felt like a Mensa exam. Much like the Xbox Live Arcade version, this TV show offered plenty of chances to make fun of the person that didn't know that Uncle Ben was a type of rice and Aunt Jemima was best known for her syrup. Stupid, stupid fools.
Getting To Know You
You know that part of the game show where the host takes a break from asking the questions
If it wasn't for the fact that he's been dead for 150 years, Larry King would be the perfect game show host!
and gets to know his victim ... er, contestant? It's the boring part of the show, where we learn that James is a school teacher and has a beautiful wife in the audience. Well, all that has been retained in this Xbox Live Arcade game. While they aren't talking to every contestant they get on the show, the host (Chris Cashman) does talk to past players over the telephone. Sadly these audio interviews are just as lame as they are on the television. Actually, I take that back. These audio interviews are way worse than what I see on Jeopardy, mostly because the contestants rarely have anything prepared and we have to hear them show off their superhuman knowledge of Family Guy.
You know how you can tell the difference between a good television game show host and a bad one? Just watch their interviewing styles. If you're Alex Trebek or Regis Philbin, then you know how to get the most entertainment out of these short exchanges. However, if you're Bob Saget, then you act like you don't give a damn what the other person says and are just in it for a paycheck. That makes two of us. At least 1 vs. 100 wasn't hosted by Richard Dawson, it would take forever to watch that horndog kiss every woman in the mob.
The Host is Completely Useless
I know the fun of this Xbox Live Arcade game is that it's live and done with a host watching everything play out, but the truth is that there's really no reason for the host to even be a part of this show. I
Like Bob, this host is only in it for the money!
suppose it adds some importance to the proceedings when we can listen to the host chatter on about how everybody is doing and how stupid somebody's avatar is. But it's not important. Worse yet, half the time the host wasn't even saying anything. His virtual mouth was moving and the computer-controlled hostess would talk like Chris had just finished up saying something interesting, but half the time he wasn't anywhere to be seen. He doesn't even read the questions or answers, like the real Bob Saget did. If he can't read the questions, then what good is he?
While it's true that Bob Saget did considerably more than Chris Cashman, that doesn't mean that he was a vital part of the proceedings. I have a hunch that 1 vs. 100 could have gone on without him; much like NBC's other crappy game show, Deal or No Deal. Bob Saget can be extremely funny, but much like America's Funniest Home Videos and Full House, Bob's often raunchy humor is tamed to the point of being painfully drab. 1 vs. 100 isn't Jeopardy or Family Feud, it can go on without a real human standing there talking you through it. It's more like Press Your Luck, the show could go on forever with those losers just jamming their hands on the button.
It's Always More Fun When It's Over
Look, I had a lot of fun playing 1 vs. 100 for a full two hours. I liked watching the game play out and even enjoyed looking at everybody's ugly avatar. But it was when
Uh dude, I don't think you're ready for the digital TV switch over!
the game was over that I ended up having the most amount of fun. The "Extended Play" portions of the Xbox Live Arcade game is fantastic, allowing you to play against other people in a trivia game that has nothing to do with mobs, ones or any of the other 1 vs. 100 trappings. This mode was all about asking a lot of questions, and that was perfectly fine by me. I can only hope that Microsoft will offer more games like this, simple trivia games that aren't about contestant interviews and trying to earn Microsoft Points.
I have the exact same problem with 1 vs. 100 that I do with Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader? and Millionaire. So much of that show is about building drama; making the contestant sweat it out while Regis throws it to a frustrating commercial break. 1 vs. 100 is like that, which is why it's just more fun to turn the TV show off and answer trivia online. Or, better yet, play Trivial Pursuit with friends. Watch that Jeopardy episode you recorded on the DVR. Really, you can do just about anything and it will be more fun than watching 1 vs. 100.
It's Still Better Than Deal or No Deal
For as much grief as I give 1 vs. 100, I would still rather answer lame trivia questions than be stuck guessing which briefcase holds a million dollars. The fact that they've turned a show about briefcases
into a video game is one of the most offensive things I have ever heard of. Maybe if the game required real skill, but all you're doing is choosing one number of another. And then when you're done with that, you pick another briefcase. And another. Until you either get so bored that you rip the game out of your system and vow to never play another game ever again or, well, I actually don't know what the alternative to that is. Things would be different if you actually won real money, but as it is all you're doing is speeding up your eventual death by boredom. But I mean that in the nicest way possible.
Even a canceled TV game show is better than Deal or No Deal. I know it's hugely popular and is keeping the lights on over at NBC, but this show about opening briefcases has to be one of the signs for the impending apocalypse. Here is a 10 minute long game show stretched unbearably into a full 60 minutes. Worst of all, we're forced to listen to host Howie Mandel yuck it up for the audience full of brain dead shells of human waste. And yet it's popular. I guess there needs to be something for the people who are too stupid to answer what the 24th letter of the alphabet is.