Back in the day when Vanna White had a book deal, I whiled away many an aimless summer hour watching Wheel of Fortune, so I still have a soft spot for this glitzy variation on Hangman. Unfortunately, Sony's new PC version of Wheel of Fortune — the latest in a series that originated back in the Commodore 64 era — lacks some of the key elements that made the series the most popular game show on television.
The biggest problem with Wheel of Fortune 2 is that it doesn't take advantage of what modern computers can do. Maybe the manufacturer wanted to make sure people with older PCs could play the game, but every time I play it I can't help wondering what they could have included.
You can create a "player" and adjust his or her hairstyles, clothing and body shape, but some players would probably enjoy being able to upload their own photos and create computerized versions of themselves. There's no announcer, and when computer-controlled contestants pick a letter, the game does not "say" what they chose. Surely a voice synthesizer wouldn't have been too much to add, right? How about an option to stop the wheel from spinning, like the way you can instantly stop a slot machine?
The biggest omissions of all, however, are the two people synonymous with Wheel of Fortune – host Pat Sajak and "letter turner" Vanna White. Older versions of this game did indeed feature a computerized Vanna, but she's nowhere to be found on this one. Wheel of Fortune without Pat or Vanna feels a little like one of these Dukes of Hazzard episodes featuring Coy and Vance.
In its defence, Wheel of Fortune 2 does include some genuinely challenging puzzles. ("Rutland Vermont" was one answer.) And Wheel of Fortune junkies will probably enjoy some elements from the TV show, such as a "road trip" option, in which contestants compete in three, five or seven different cities. The game is extremely easy to play, and it's entertaining enough, especially with more than one person. But these days, I expect more – even from a computerized version of a game show.
Editor’s note: this is a casual game that lives squarely in the casual space and is designed to run on machines with older hardware and up, not just the latest and greatest PCs.
Wheel of Fortune 2 is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB.