Hyped as "Nintendo's first video board game," I was skeptical of Anticipation
going in. I've been burned by 8-bit ports of Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune,
but I stuck with it knowing that this was a Rare-developed game build from the
ground up for the Nintendo Entertainment System. It turns out that you can
have quite a bit of fun with Anticipation, but I'm not sure it's going to
replace your real world board games.
Anticipation feels like a cross between Trivial Pursuit, Wheel of Fortune and
Pictionary. The game takes place on one of several different tables, each
resembling something you might see in a traditional Parker Brother's board
game. The board is made up of several different colored tiles - yellow,
green, blue and pink - each with their own category of puzzle to solve. The
object of the game is to collect each of the colors, the first to do that wins
the game and moves on to the next board.
Instead of answering questions (a la Jeopardy!), you it's your job to guess
what a simple picture is before anybody else. At first the picture will be
nothing more than a series of dots. Can you guess it without any help? If so
you'll earn the maximum roll of the die (six spaces on the board). Before
long a pencil will begin to connect the dots, giving you a clearer look at
what the picture is. The more puzzle is shown, the less spaces you'll be able
to move. The first person to ring in is given control of the board and the
potential to earn all four of the color tiles.
Thankfully the game gives you a few hints. For example, you will be able to
see how many letters the computer is looking for. You will also see the
category, which can be anything from a letter to an object to an article of
clothing. So, if you know that the computer is drawing an article of clothing
and you only have four letters, chances are it will be something simple like a
"boot" or a "shoe." Ring in when you know, but don't spell it wrong more than
once or you're out.
For the most part this concept works brilliantly. It's quick and easy to
figure out letters and numbers, objects can be tricky and the clothing
category is more fun than you might think. But occasionally the game wants
questionably specific responses. I was stumped while watching the computer
draw what looked like a Christmas tree. I could see that it was two 4-letter
words, but I could have sworn it was a Christmas tree. I tried "Pine Tree,"
but the computer didn't accept that. And then it hit me, the computer didn't
want Christmas tree; it wanted "Xmas Tree." Little things like that make the
game feel unfair at times.
In the past I have been critical of inputting text using a D-pad, but the
game's simple design works for this game. All of the letters are in a line
and the arrow moves incredibly fast, making the whole process painless. The
graphics are understandably simple; they give off the vibe of a run of the
mill board game. The music is non-existent and there's no real flashy sound
effects. In all, the presentation is exactly what you would expect from an 8
-bit board game.
Anticipation succeeds for all of the reasons that most of the other game show
-style games fail. This feels like a game that was meant to be played with a
control and friends over. There are no gimmicks here, this is just a straight
board game intended for gamers of all ages. It stumbles a bit when it comes
specific puzzles, but even now this is a lot of fun with four-players. Forget
the annual Mario Party sequel, Anticipation is the Nintendo board game you
should be playing.