REVIEW: Jackbox Party Pack 2

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Jackbox Party Pack 2 is the sequel to 2014’s Jackbox Party Pack 1, which contained Drawful, Fibbage, Word Spud, Lie Swatter and You Don’t Know Jack….

In the 2015 release, you have 5 games, including a return to Fibbage, and no You Don’t Know Jack, whaaaa?

If you want a TL;DR Review – all the people who received advanced copies (From Last Tuesday to Monday) are the ONLY people who will get mileage from this, otherwise, it’s only worth it if you have a HUGE video game stream turn out. (or a large group of friends)

And now let’s go through all the nooks and crannies of the games.

Fibbage 2 is a simple game, similar to baulderdash, or any real quiz show. You get a funny statement about a true fact. “Be sure to visit so-and-so place for the _____ museum” and on your cell phones (or laptops) you can write down a blank that is very misleading (or close-to) the correct answer. Once everybody answered, or time runs out, you must pick “the truth” (the correct answer) for points. If you’re wrong, the points go to another player. But this time around, Fibbage 2 offers “The De-Fib-ulator” which makes any one question a 50/50 gamble.

I think the de-fib-ulator is a nice idea, but unfortunately when playing with it, doesn’t give it that much risk, and when I used it, was spent on the correct answer and a comically wrong in-joke answer. It’s a step back, but they do offer an “audience vote” for a thumbs cup (for the funny answer).

I enjoy the idea of the funny answers, but the problem with Fibbage is that there are two ways to play it.

You are serious about your Fibs (The name of a dog should be “Rover” or “Spike”)
or You aren’t serious and just want to have fun dumb answers (The dog is named “John Cena”)

So while last year’s is fun, you might have some fun with this installment too, more questions is always better, and there isn’t so much repeated statements compared to last year’s, especially on Final Fibbage. But would love to see it turn into more “episodic” play in future installments like YDKJ, which is also hosted by Cookie. (It’s a “Good”)

Ear Wax is Jackbox’s take on Card’s Against Humanity or SFX Quiplash, a statement is given in Quiplash form, then on the mobile phones (which is the controller for all these games) they pick from an assortment of different SFX that only they can choose, it’s all randomized (so like CAH, the “deck” is shuffled to the players, in the form of SFX). One player is the judge and picks from 3 prompts, the others must make a great sound package of two tracks…. then they play them in order.

While it’s a funny idea, the pacing of the game is verrrrrrry slow. The SFX do not immediately go one-after-the-other there is a 1 second pause with minor record scratch kind of ruins the punchline for many jokes. And while it’s a great use of multi-media to make a card-like party game, it is also one of the few games that just gets boring after a couple play-throughs, It only goes up to 8 players, but does come with “AUDIENCE VOTE” as well. (It’s a “Meh”)

Bomb Corp. is the game I played the most, because it comes in 1 player mode (and goes up to 4), it’s a mix of “Keep Talking and No One will Explode” and “McPixel” where you have to cut wires based on logic puzzles (if X is blue, cut the Nth wire). And some of the variety changes in the game as you progress. It’s quirky, and stands out as the only game featured that’s for low number of players AND without an audience feature. If you’re not good at logic puzzles, it’s really not a game for you, and after a while (when you defuse all the bombs) all that’s left is The Grind, which I feel is the best part of the ENTIRE Jackbox Party Pack this year. (It’s a “Good”)

Bidiots is a game people say is like the South Korean reality show “The Genius” (because it’s logic, mixed with sabotage) Each player is given two prompts to draw, and then given $3,000 to buy art in “auction” format. Each phone is also given personalized information about the art being auctioned off and who possibly made it. (“Rainbow is worth $2,300”) but unlike last year’s “Drawful”, it isn’t as comical, you’re kind of just sitting there hoping to buy the most expensive art pieces and make sure others pay more than it’s worth.

The problem with Bidiots is the random luck element of the pricing. In each purchase, the artist gets 50% of the price (so if the auction ends at $1000, someone gets $500) and that means that artists ultimately could lose simply because they didn’t get a fair share of the art, (two players art could be worth $3,000 and end up getting 2000-3000 bids, ending with a player getting an xtra 2k 3k over others who wound up with $800-$1200 pieces).

It’s not that confusing – buy low, hope it’s worth high, read the texts for info. But I would have enjoyed a Drawful 2 along with Bidiots, the idea of naming the pieces was one of the best parts of Jackbox 1, but this time around, that comedy is scattered. (It’s a “Bad”)

Quiplash XL came out in March, and I was so excited to play it… until I realized I am not a big-time stream person. Quiplash’s main draw is two players answer prompts (like CAH) with something funny, and then you vote. The problem is, I am not a big-time famous youtuber nor a famous Twitch streamer, so in any given day, I might only have 6 or 7 people playing. That doesn’t make for fun quiplashing. Especially if the audience vote matters a lot in the points-earning process. If you have 3 friends, do NOT even bother playing Quiplash, this is supposed to be a game for LARGE parties, and that’s not including the 8 player ones the original Jackbox was meant for. This is a game for “Twitch Streamers” and the DLC (which came out last month BTW for $1) is included in this package.

I felt that while Quiplash is a very comical game, it’s a game that when it reaches “The Last Lash” (a low-scoring final) you only want to play it a few more times. CAH worked because of people who aren’t crafty or hilarious, however, Quiplash is superior in that it requires that creativity. I can’t fault the game for being almost unplayable with low audiences, but more or less, it’s for twitch users and youtubers with huge audiences to vote and stream. (It’s a “Meh”)

FINAL SUMMARY

Jackbox Party Pack 2 offers 5 interesting games for the low price of $25 (that’s like $5 per game) and includes the return to the fan favorite, Fibbage. However, many of the games offerings requires almost a large audience base, which doesn’t make it a “party” it makes it a “twitch game”. While that means Jackbox has cornered the market with that genre, it means that video game “party games” are pushed away with this release.

You will have fun with this game, you will smile and laugh and have a good time, and that’s what Jackbox is all about, but most of the time, you’ll feel lonely and depressed, because the only way to really play it is on someone else’s twitch.

So my conclusion is buy it if you want to play Fibbage with friends at a party some time, but if you are curious about playing it, just hope to god someone on Twitch is playing it and you can join-in. Otherwise, just buy it and stream it and hope you have the audience to get players.

Not a single game in here is awful, or terrible, they are all fun and unique in their own way. But you do feel like that guy who had a “hang-out” party with a few friends having drinks, and the next door neighbors have invited the entire town and they showed up.

Maybe next year, we will see more Fibbage and some more creative ideas, but gearing it to the Twitch market, and in a way, focusing on “games like Cards Against Humanity” did more of a disservice to the party pack, than last year’s variety of games like Word Spud.

There is a way to disable “audience mode” and there is a “family filter” you could have if you want to play with your younger brother, which is fantastic. If there was a percentage rating for this game, I would give it a clear 7.5. but we don’t give number reviews, it’s simply out of is it good or bad or whatever, and this time around, some are good some are whatever.

BUT BE SURE TOSUBSCRIBE AND FOLLOW AND RATE AND COMMENT AND I DO VIDEOS EVERY MONDAY FRIDAY WEDNESDAY, EVERY OTHER THURSDAY, AND SUNDAYS WHEN I AM NOT HUNGOVER FROM A SATURDAY STREAM WHERE I DRINK WITH MY FRIENDS YOUTUBER AND YOUTUBER2

MEH RATING

REVIEW: Chain Reaction

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When I was told GSN was bringing back “Chain Reaction”. I was admittedly confused. GSN does not have that good of a track record when it comes to revivals, sometimes they are great revivals but not good enough to return (like The Pyramid) other times it’s a disaster (Lingo) and other times, they just revive shows and you just go “Okay, sure” like Minute to Win It.

Chain Reaction would NOT be on my list of shows I’d ever want to see revived… I’d much rather have Card Sharks or Tattletales or if I had to pick a word game, “Blackout”… what about “Whew!”? Can “Whew!” come back?

Most of this was caused of the original GSN run of Chain Reaction. Between it’s annoying intro, it’s bland hosting, and it’s end-game format from “GO!”, there were problems…

But after seeing GSN’s remake of Chain Reaction… while there are a few problems, most of my worries were gone after the first 5 minutes.

Chain Reaction works like this, there is two “main words” and 5 words that connect to them.

FRISBEE
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{}
{}
{}
{}
SALAD

When you start the game, you decide where you want a letter revealed to help you out. Under Frisbee or Above Salad…

You say Frisbee…

FRISBEE
{G}
{}
{}
{}
{}
SALAD

and now you can make a guess… Frisbee Golf would be a good one. Because that’s a Frisbee G.

FRISBEE
{GOLF}
{}
{}
{}
{}
SALAD

You win $100 in Round 1 for that correct guess, $200 in Round 2, $300 in Round 3… as you keep going. But if you guess wrong, the play goes to the other team to guess the clue.

FRISBEE
GOLF
CLUB
SODA
JERK
CHICKEN
SALAD

And that’s a single chain for a single round. In Round 4, there is a “gambling round” where you pay anywhere from $100 to $500 to reveal a letter and make your guess. If you’re right, you win the money you bet, if you’re wrong, you lose the money you gambled…. it’s a make or break round… but like most people, it’s a real broken round.

Whoever has the most money after 4 rounds will go onto the final round to win another $5,000.

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All they need to do is simply guess 7 words that have the first three letters revealed that pair up with a single word to win. (These contestants were looking for DELICIOUS). If they could do that, they can win $5,000 more.

I can safely say, I enjoy this version of “Chain Reaction” more, “Psycho Mike” Mike Catherwood is someone you just love on this show. He is lovable on Loveline, and he’s lovable on this show. He is excited to host the show, willing to have jokes with the two pairs of contestants, and actually wants to see people win.

He is in a way, one of the better game show hosts to show up in quite some time. I’d say he’s more of a Radio DJ than a comedian, but he knows how to play to the audience and juggle the show. The set, as you have seen, isn’t a “dark shiny floor game” like most game shows before it. You see purples and pinks. It feels like you’re seeing a bunch of oversized tablets from the apple store, or something they probably grabbed from the Idiottest Set.

The banter is actually what makes the show sell, to me, even more than the game itself. Because if you just took the word game at face value – it’s really boring, and the format would not be worth reviving from the 1980s. However, if you add a personable host, and you tweak it just a little that the game itself is “half the show”, then you have an entertaining block.

Mike loves talking to the teams, he loves wondering about who they are, how they became friends or wives… the game really comes second… but not so much that the game isn’t going at all times.

The bad part of the show is simply the “fourth round” (the gamble round), because if you want to talk financials – $1,500 would be given out between the teams ($100 x 5, $200 x 5, $300 x 5) and $1,500 could only buy you roughly 3 letters each on the chain before crapping out. (that’s for both teams). So if you get stuck on a word, or if there is a plural in the chain (SADDLE BAG/BAGS) you could cost some big money, even if you knew it. I’d much rather have had a twist where the center word would be revealed with maybe $100, then $200, then $300 and so on for each word found. But that might be breaking the game if you’re handing out $2,100 like there is no tomorrow.

You get a nice mix of comedy, and word game, that feels less claustrophic (although the set does need a little more curvature, it looks like a shoebox diorama was just enlarged) and more engaging to the audience. They do try and pull some family feud risque words on the board from time to time, but it’s not that bad of a show.

I mean, if you played an absolute perfect game, you could win $9,000. But really it’s a smaller $5,000 prize, because it’s more obtainable to win. And then maybe that extra $1,100 from the front game (it’s always $1,100. I have no idea why… sometimes $1,400).

I’d say if you pair this game up with IdiotTest for an hour block, you have a nice mix of team games and comedy, that are both great thinking puzzles. 🙂

GOOD RATING

 

REVIEW: Hive Minds

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When it comes to game shows on BBC2, they usually remind me of shows that PBS would air in an attempt to be “sophisticated” and “smart”. Only Connect is a really smart show, that involves two teams of three people as they solve connecting clues that get harder as it progresses.

So it’s no surprise when you see that they have created a show in similar “tournament team” format, but instead of connecting clues, it’s also “find the answer” similar to the old game show “Now You See It”

Instead of my normal review structure of “explaining the rules” I am going to simply say it changes each round, and each round gets more complicated. All of it feels like a casual game you would play on flash in 2005, or maybe on your smartphone in 2009.

There is a clue, and a word. You need to find the word, the longer it takes, the less points you earn, but the more “boxes” go missing to make it easier to find it.

Some rounds have multiple answers, some rounds have one answer, some rounds have multiple answers and multiple questions.

Points fluctuate and somebody wins, rinse, repeat.

Unlike “Only Connect”, which is a good show because it’s intelligence relies on bizarre chains, and the “Connect Wall” is actually somewhat of a cool set feature. (Game Shows are OBSESSED with Contestants vs Walls)

This show doesn’t have a wall, it has mostly contestants staring at screens, but unlike “Idiot Test” on GSN and unlike something like “Beat The Brain”, this show has them murmuring and maybe they can find it.

There is play along in trying to answer and find the answers in “the hive”, but at the same time… it’s a quiz that really should have just been a two teams trying to win a small cash prize element. This is a show that shouldn’t have been a “tournament”.

Fiona Bruce serves as the presenter, but there isn’t much she can do in this. She can come up with creative comments for the teams. But unlike “Only Connect” which can give Victoria Coren Mitchell some wiggle room for entertaining jokes… Fiona could only do so much.

It’s a good idea, but a boring format, it’s not the worst show on television, but with a mis-step in figuring out the rules, and the format, it’s a show that might just put me to sleep.

BAD RATING

REVIEW: Geeks Who Drink

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Geeks Who Drink is a “game show” that’s more of a loose panel game, hosted by Zachary Levi in which two teams of three (two regular people, one “celebrity”… if you recognize them) compete against each other to see who can have “the biggest bar tab” and win the cash and a few “geeky prizes” (a lightsaber, an xbox one, and fandango gift certificates)

In the first episode I saw, they had a few games, and here we go – each person gets asked a statement and must pick either/or for $10. They ask all 6 people, so a possible $30 each, then they do it again.

Then the next round is an “on the buzzer” round for $20, with three questions on a different topic.

Then they take a break to “drink” (the set is very cheap, but they spared no expense on the booze)

When we return, we are introduced to the teams and play a “video” for $20 and a question for it. Then we have a round where they must sort 7 items by 7 things and whoever is the fastest wins another $50.

Then they drink some more for the commercial break.

Then they have a math question for a possible $100. Then they have a “challenge” between the celebrities where the winner decides the final category in the final round.

In the final round, the players go back and forth trying to list something from the category, if they can’t figure it out, they are eliminated, but the rest get to play on. Whoever is the last team standing wins $100 for every person left (a possible $300)

So if you were doing your math correctly – means that the final round is really all that could matter.

Did I mention the booze? They do drink a whole lot on the show, there are servers handing audience members cocktails and large pints like that’s the budget… but you know, NERDS!

Zachary Levi as far as hosting is concerned, is pretty… um… I wouldn’t say “terrible”, I’d say “pandering”. It’s a geek show, he’s a geek, being a geek is cool. You are cool, you are a geek, you would like this because you’re a geek and this is a geeky show.

We have been five years without Attack of the Show, something tells me the “Nerd Bus” is probably fading, but you can’t fault Syfy for having a steady format that’s essentially “Nerdy Hollywood Game Night”.

The questions are that of the “nerdy” variety – it’s comic books, sci-fi movies, cartoons, video games, and unlike “King of the Nerds” does not try and make the contestants into characters, they are all around nice enough people… even Zackary Levi…. at least when he’s not throwing the question cards everywhere and acting like “your annoying drunk friend”.

The format is sort of there, even if it’s broken at times (I would have made the math question possibly $50 instead of $100) and the prizes in store are really nice. The trivia is there, and it’s faithful to the pub quiz it’s based on.

So if you want a nice 22 minute game show where it’s pandering to “the geek demo” (non-existant, but that’s neither here nor there) and love to see the sound-proof walls on a soundstage, next to all four cameras they have on set, and all 24 people in the audience, then this is the game show for you.

It’s not as bad as other “nerdy game shows” (pop quiz hot shot), but it’s not as good based on the production values and the way they situate their acts. There is something there, but most of the time, it screams cheap if the winners get $240 and a prop lightsaber. (Roughly $2000 in prizes) but hey, maybe it’ll get better if there is a Season 2?

GOOD RATING

REVIEW : BOOM!

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Boom is, for lack of a better word, a blast. Teams of 3 friends/family whatever try and win up to $500,000 by cutting wires with a ticking clock, a la every action movie ever.

Each round, one person will take on “the bombs of boom”, with a category, each bomb is a question, each wire is an answer, cutting the right wires will diffuse the bomb, but be careful, if they run out of time, or cut the wrong wire (wrong answer), the bomb goes off, and blasts the contestant (and the host, and audience) with an OOEY GOOEY MESS.

That Ooey Gooey Mess is your general foodstuffs, generally based around the team in play, for example, a family of pizza makers got blasted with Pizza sauce, Alfredo Sauce and Pesto in the debut episode, while a team of Uppers from Michigan got blasted with Mustard and Maple Syrup.

Round 1 has 4 answers, 3 right, 1 wrong, and 30 seconds for $5,000
Round 2 has 4 answers, 3 right, 1 wrong, and 30 seconds for $10,000
Round 3 has 4 answers, 3 right, 1 wrong and 30 seconds for $15,000

Oh, I should bring up the fact that if you get blasted, you are out of the game, so the remaining players would have to play on without you, but if you diffuse the bomb the money is “banked” (no money tree here)

Round 4 has 5 answers, 4 right, 1 wrong and 40 seconds for $20,000
Round 5 has 6 answers, 5 right, 1 wrong and 50 seconds for $25,000
Round 6 has 7 answers, 6 right, 1 wrong and 60 seconds for $50,000

Oh, and I also forgot – if you “blew up” all three of your contestants, you leave the game empty handed and the game is over, wherever you ended up. If you survived six questions (or if anybody did) they have the chance to diffuse one final bomb – THE MEGA MONEY BOMB, for 4 times the amount, but if they are wrong, they lose half their bank.

The mega money bomb lets all 3 contestants play, but with 10 answers – 7 are right and 3 are wrong, one wrong cut and it’s game over.

Now, let me tell you the positives – what makes the game great is how it’s not, absolutely not, “dramatic”, it’s stressful (ticking bomb), but there isn’t a “black shiny floor”, the set itself is absolutely beautiful. It’s colorful and cartoony, the bombs themselves don’t scream “terrorism” they scream “Wile E. Coyote”. And there isn’t a single ounce of “tug at the heartstrings”.

The contestants will share their backstory, but it isn’t the modern-day “playing because sad sad”, no, this is one happy game. The contestants are happy, the host, Tom Papa is happy and the audience is happy. If there is one word to describe this game, it’s “Happy”.

The trivia questions are tricky to figure out, but anybody can easily tell you that if you “negate the answer” (Ex. “Which 3 of these 4 movies came out in the 1980s” becomes “Which one of these movies didn’t come out in the 1980s?”) you can think it much clearer, however, you still have to cut one wire at a time (not because of “rules”, the wire cutters just aren’t big enough)

When a contestant “blew it” and the stage and audience and Tom get splashed with anything from Mashed Potatoes to Tomato Soup, the contestants aren’t really upset at losing the money, they are having a laugh as well. Even if a team wound up losing the game, there is an ounce of smiles on their faces – which is the trickiest part about this show.

This is a show that wants us to laugh AT the contestants when they fail. They want the misfortune of watching a contestant pretty much staining their shirt because they got covered in Chocolate Sauce to be the farthest thing from the mind, the loss of $20,000 on the bomb, while bad, isn’t that bad of an occasion, because hey, we’re having a good time. The contestant laughs at the situation as well.

When a contestant is about to cut a wire – it’s best to look at Tom Papa’s face, that guy is ready to split at any second, and that makes for some good comedy.

I also am glad that aside from promos spoiling the “blasts” (so if you think critically, you’ll know when players will bust) the team decided NOT to do the typical FOX game show route of spoiling the game and ending. (like Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader)

However, there are faults that come with the show. The first part is some of the questions being selected. “According to ____” are always good questions for these kinds of shows, they aren’t as straightforward as facts, it’s an opinion piece. However, they do provide questionable content and all the producers and writers can say is “well it’s according to so-and-so, not me personally”. I do enjoy some of the smarter questions that were featured in the App such as “NATO Alphabet” or in previews like “Apps that use a letter as their logo”. It’s tricky, but fun.

Another fault is something that I can’t really complain that much about – it’s not “bookended”. The show has, at most 7 questions, but contestants can stop at 6. In the span of an hour show you can answer 6 questions and have the 7th be the “risk or go on” moment. But with the “if three are blown out, you’re done”, while that’s a smart rule, and makes perfect sense in this game (a player is ‘blown out of the game’ – you’ll have two left, then if they screw up, one is left, and that’s it) you do risk the possibility of contestants losing at question 6, and then having the possibility of a “we’ll see you next time for bomb 4!” for the next contestants.

It’s come to my attention that these are no longer “hooks” to get me to keep watching. A champion “defending” their championship, yes. But to see if a person can “beat the house”? Not so much. Deal or No Deal was best in the UK for this fact – they had one game and even if they quit early, kept playing to ramp tension (and surprise the contestant with a bankers gamble) . On “Boom”, an explosion sends players out of the game – I was wondering if it would be better to just have the same team of three play the game for the entirety of the show? Add more mess to the mess and have them go through all 6 question bombs?

You have a wonderful host with Tom Papa, you have one of the greatest looking sets in modern game shows, and you have a “ticking clock” format that keeps people watching, rather it’s to see people win or see them covered in Thousand Island Dressing.

Here’s “How I would do it”

The same “team of 3” players but instead of 6 bombs – there are 10 bombs (that will span the entirety of the hour).

Much like the “shuffle format” of millionaire – there are different values to play for –
$5,000 (x4)
$10,000 (x3)
$25,000 (x2)
$50,000 (x1)

The values are assigned to different bombs, but as the game progresses – the game gets more difficult,

the first four questions have 4 for the value times 1 (30 seconds)
the next three have 6 for the value times 2 (45 seconds)
the next two have 8 for the value times 3 (60 seconds)
and the final one has 10 for the value times 4. (90 seconds)

Any money won after ten questions is theirs to keep, and while the top prize on luck is $430,000. ($20,000 + $60,000 + $150,000 + $200,000) it does offer more “risk” in the form of the final round being all-or-nothing.

Audiences aren’t going to probably ever get a “maximum win” because that part is based on luck, however, they are probably willing to sit through a game where the contestants keep ending up scoreless and covered in ketchup, if it means the possibility of at least a $20,000 win in the final question (or best case – $200,000).

BOOM! is however, a format that probably does know when to “call it quits” and feels that answering 6 questions is enough to have at least a win (4 out of 6 correct) and it does know how to cut to commercial at the best possible times. It is engaging with the audience – but it does have that “Who’s Still Standing” vibe about it, that can’t let go.

Plus I’m pretty sure the studio smelled really gross after tapings, Chocolate Pudding, Relish and Strawberry Smoothies should never go together – not even on game shows.

But is it an enjoyable game show? Absolutely!

GOOD RATING

I just hope Tom Papa got Scotch-Guard all over his clothes when he agreed to sign up to be the host.

REVIEW : Battlebots

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The last time “Battlebots” was on the air was in 2002 on, of all networks, Comedy Central. Battlebots was a huge television phenomenon that inspired engineering students to build their own bots to fight and inspired two video games (that weren’t that good).

But to most fans of the sport – it’s more popular as “Robot Wars” with the same concept, just a different type of box. And also, Robot Wars has gladiator-style house robots…. but the void has been gone for a decade in America, and ABC decided to pick it up.

Battlebots, however, isn’t the “comedy series” that was on Comedy Central. It’s style, much like American Ninja Warrior is that of a sports competition. The show has multiple multiple hosts, much like a sports presentation.

Molly McGrath is allegedly the “host” as she explains the bracket and introduces the commentators. Chris Rose from “The Best Damn Sports Show” (and now MLB Network) joins MMA Fighter and commentator Kenny Florian on the side-lines giving the blow-by-blow and offering analytics over robots.

Is a “wedge robot” better than a “spinner robot” is a “vertical saw” better than a “clamping robot”? And other questions that I’m sure they don’t really have the answers to, but are willing to give their best guesses and legit excitement when it comes to “a robot saws into another robot and shrapnel flies over the arena”.

Allison Haislip and Bobak Ferdowsi are the “sideline reporters” that show up in “the pit” to talk to the designers and drivers of the robots about their weapons, in addition to the usual “HOW DOES IT FEEL” questions. However, Bobak hasn’t really been showing up much on television, even though he’s engineering skills are really interesting to hear.

The show works like this – there are two robots (no “weight classes” anymore) and Faruq Tauheed, MMA Announcer lets the audience know ITTTTTTT”SS ROBOT FIGHTING TIME. He goes through the old-school battlebots “pun to the name of the bot” and then when only returns to announce the winner, either by knockout (the robot can’t move) or by decision from three judges including, a Special Effects Artist, a NASA Engineer, and Jessica Chobot (either because “NERDIST” or because “Rhymes with Robot”)

The Battlebots fight inside a giant cube, surrounding the cube is glass, but also “flippers” and screws (to cause damage), the corners have “hammers” (because damage) and there are sawblades and pistons that shoot contestants in the air.

HOWEVER…

Thus far, in the “qualifying rounds”, the only arena weapons we have seen were the screws, the flippers and the hammer. The saw blades, which are Battlebots trademarks (at least by this point) have yet to be used, and neither have most of the arena hazards. I am unsure if it’s because they want to “save it for later” or because the technology broke midway through the production, maybe they want “pure competition” (or something that doesn’t show bias, because FCC regulations, and now Battlebots is a “competition show”)

Another thing you’ll find out is that contestants and teams now have backstories, they want to do it for the kids and be inspired, they want to do this because they overcame adversity, and other game show buzzwords that make you want to vomit. It’s the worst part of game shows, and Battlebots doesn’t need “the sob story” – it simply needs to just be a weekly series of robots beating each other up.

In the span of an hour, you get roughly 5 or 6 matches, but also get “results” from other matches (either because their backstory wasn’t sad enough, or because they lost, so that means the editing team doesn’t have to create the package)

The presentation is great, you have what is essentially “Robotic MMA” with the commentary team, and the announcers. But if you’ve ever seen matches – you know they barely touch on their backstories. While it does give a positive approach to getting people interested in STEM, it does a horrible job in capturing all the designers and their robots. A robot smashed into firey pieces in a qualifying round, but was only seen for maybe 12 seconds, while roughly 6 minutes was spent on a match that lasted the game 12 seconds. (complete with backstories)

I think fans of battlebots want to see the robots fight and maybe a bit of info about the robot. What makes this robot special? Why did you call the robot that? I enjoy the “who would win” segment, it feels like a pre-show to the fight, and while the matches are exciting (slow-mo fire blasts) it gets rough around the edges. It’s one of those shows, that I’ll keep watching to see who wins, and hope it gets another season, but it’s not “American Ninja Warrior”, it’s “Robots smashing into each other”.

HERES HOW I WOULD DO IT…

Much like “Robot Wars”, you start off with qualifying mini-tournaments. 4 “robots”, 1 v 1, and the winning robot advances to “The Tournament of 16”

This way, you get to show-off different robots, and include things like “malfunctions” or quick fights like a “single blow and it’s done”.

When you get the 16, you keep going with the tournament to 8 to 4 to 2 to 1.

Same number of episodes, but you get to showcase more robots, unless the problem is “not that many people want to get into Robot Fighting”.

If that’s the case – the way to fix it is simply present the fights more than the contestants. I understand people spent over 15 years working on their robots, but showing the same “playing with RC cars” isn’t really going to help – this is 2015 Battlebots. And this battlebots demand to see more creativity with not just the robots, but in the presentation (and the arena).

GOOD RATING

REVIEW : Celebrity Family Feud

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Family Feud is one of the longest running game shows on television. Based on the original rules of “Match Game” where contestants had to match something to a celebrity for points (before the DUMB DORA), families would have to figure out what a survey of 100 people said to bizarre answers ranging from “something with a core” to something regarding family and community (A place you wouldn’t want to see your husband naked.)

In the early days, Richard Dawson was the host, and was one of the most charming game show hosts you could ever think of, when people think “Family Feud”, they think Richard Dawson (With respect to Ray Combs, Louie Anderson, Richard Karn and John O’Hurley), but in 2010s, Steve Harvey took over the hosting duties of the show, and the questions became more titillating, Steve Harvey made the show his own.

Steve Harvey, known for having most of his comedy material on dating, family, relationships and sex, gets to perform his material on the show, in the form of responding to contestants’ survey answers. Part of the show has become “Steve Harvey reacts to things” in addition to “Contestants say boobs, butt, penis and masturbation in front of their grandma”. However, I am one to argue the show has been the same as it always was, just with a more colorful set.

And this holds true with “Celebrity Family Feud”, a long-standing celebrity edition of shows, that is much better than whoever decided “Total Nonstop Action Wrestling” was worthy of an entire week of shows as well. Teams of a similar group, rather it’s a television show, a famous music group, or simply just solo celebrities bringing their families come onto the show and play Family Feud in the same style to play for a cash prize, in this version, it’s $25,000.

For most people in the UK, they’ve already been treated to this, in the form of “All Star Family Fortunes”, which is their version of Family Feud, and “All-Star” because celebrities or something. So now here are the rules of Family Feud in case you never seen the show (but why would you? I played like every family feud game possible!)

There is a survey with 100 people. In the toss-up you get to buzz-in and try and find the top answer (if not, your opponent at the table can give an answer to try and take it) Whoever had the highest answer would decide to play the survey or pass it to their opponents.

We then go to the family podiums and one-by-one they guess what’s on the survey posted. If it’s on their. It’s revealed and the points are “banked”. If it’s wrong, they get a strike. Three strikes they are “out”. The opposing team then has a chance to ‘steal’ the banked points if they can find one answer that the family did not reveal (but if they cleared the board, this isn’t played, obviously)

Whoever is the first team to reach 300 points or more wins the game and goes into FAST MONEY. (Round 1 & 2 are “Single” Round 3 is a “Double” Round 4 is a “Triple” and Round 5 is a “Sudden Death” worth triple but only the most popular answer counts)

In “Fast Money”, two family members get to respond to five survey results with their top answers. If their total is more than 200, they win the cash prize, otherwise it’s $5 a point, which hasn’t changed even since the 1970s for some reason, I dunno.

In Al Roker’s Family Feud, there was a tournament, where there were four “families”, with the first team to reach 300 (or after 4 rounds) goes onto a final round, where only one team gets to play for $50,000. It’s as much of a trainwreck as humanly possibly possible when it comes to Family Feud. Between the NBCUniversal promotions and an episode where the cast of The Office and the cast of My Name is Earl had to play, not as the actors, but as themselves, things just got screwy.

Luckily, when Steve Harvey took over as host, the ratings soared. Millions of people watch, making it one of the most watched programs (not just game shows) in Daytime. It’s on reruns on not just GSN, but TV Land and elsewhere. So, while this awful excuse of a “Celebrity Family Feud” happened a few years back for NBC, the alphabet channel, ABC decided to give it another try – but only with Steve Harvey as host.

And this version of Celebrity Family Feud, while it still has traces of “ABC promotions” (Bachelor vs Dancing with the Stars, Anthony Anderson of “Blackish” as a contestant), it does however a good job of keeping the game moving, it’s as hilarious to watch in primetime, as it is in Daytime, although for primetime, they do serve up more of the “PENIS STEVE” type survey results.

However, there is no tournament. It’s basically watching two back-to-back episodes of Family Feud. Two celebrity teams fight and the winner plays “Fast Money” for $25,000 for charity (I assume $10 a point if they fail?) and then two new teams play the next game for the other $25,000. The same $50,000 payout, but spread out. The contestants aren’t in character, they are themselves, and they lead to very hilarious answers. Imagine asking NFL Players “name something that inflates and deflates”?

Celebrity Family Feud is a bonafide hit for ABC and a wonderful summer-time series. Steve Harvey is a charming host, that has made the show his own, and is on equal grounds to Richard Dawson for his hosting ability on the show. It has it’s comedy, it has it’s play along and it knows when to get serious and when to be all laughs, and luckily that’s 95% of the time.

Steve Harvey is a good host, because his comedy suits the show. He’s a great host because he knows the timing of when to milk the moments and when to get back into ‘host mode’.

You have a winner, with Celebrity Family Feud.

GREAT RATING

 

REVIEW : Jurassic World

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If I had to give a complete summary of Jurassic World, it would be complicated and really not do the movie justice. It’s Jurassic Park, but with a fresher coat of paint, and more money to spend on science and technology.

This is what it was about – imagine walking around a giant theme park and going on a ‘friendly ride’ when suddenly shit gets real and dinosaurs start eating people. That’s Jurassic World.

The movie takes off where Jurassic Park ended, 20 years later Ingen is bought by another company who takes the “park” into a resort/theme park complete with a Hilton Hotel™, a Ben & Jerry’s™, and a Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville™.

In the park itself, there is gyroscopes where Jimmy Fallon tells you about the safety of the orbs, the same way he talks to you at the Universal Studios studio tour (hey, who knew this was a universal picture?)

And yes, they had the classic Jurassic Park theme. So what happens is that Chris Pratt goes “hey dinosaurs are animals treat them respect” and the big company is like “lol no, we gonna make $$$” and spoilers – lawsuits will happen with huge settlements.

It has CGI Dinosaurs eating people, it has spooky jump scares, and it has Mr. DNA, there is nothing to hate about this movie, aside from maybe the kids in the movie. It’s supposed to give the message about family, and treatment of animals, but ultimately, it came to WATCH DINOSAURS TEAR SHIT UP, and, well, that is cool.

It’s not the best movie of the summer, but it is a laugh out loud adventure. I enjoyed myself, I’d suggest a matinee for this.

GOOD RATING

REVIEW : Benchmark

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Benchmark is a game show where 1 contestant and 10 soon-to-be contestants play for up to £25,000.

The first part of the game involves the two best scoring players from the last episode, whoever is closest to a survey result gets to be that day’s contestant, the other goes with the other 9 and form the benchmark.

In each round, a survey is posted (or numerical fact) and the 10 players give their estimate, their average becomes “The Benchmark” (The NAME!) and it’s up for our contestant to determine if their average is HIGHER or LOWER than the actual amount, so in other words, Power of 10 meets Card Sharks/Play Your Cards Right!

Each correct answer moves the scale up, because only the three values in the scale will be what’s played for in the final round. And yes, the scales move and fluctuate and will stop when it’s correct. If it’s incorrect, nothing happens aside from the top prize being out of play.

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When there are three players furthest from the average, will not be counted (Only 7 count) and they are lit up, because whenever Paddy McGuinness hosts a show, “No Likey, No Lighty”. And when the results are given, all the answers are shown, because whoever was the closest gets 1 point, and whoever were the two top “Benchmarkers” will be in the running to be the contestant next episode. But whoever is the lowest scorer in the game, will be eliminated from the show.

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In the last three questions (There are 7 in Round 1) only the three that are closest to the answer will be counted for the average, so it’s a flip opposite of the first four. In addition, a contestant has a “BONUS” where if they are confident, they can play for TWO spaces (which is why if you saw the money ladder scale, you saw 8 rungs to 25, when its 7 questions, but one can be the bonus)

The funniest part is a contestant “locks in” their higher or lower response by picking the side (that little dividing line, by skirting left or right). It’s a literal “PICK A SIDE”. Paddy however has an ongoing catchphrase of “WELL THATS NOT WHAT TO GO FOR” when he discusses to the “Lit-Up” players the reason behind their wrong answer.

Bonus

In the final, the contestant is the one making the percentage, but for every point they are off by, they lose one point, if they lose 33 points, they go down to the next amount, so they have 99 points to play with, and there are three questions to get through. In addition, they can call on one person per question for assistance.

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I think the show is great. Sure the top prize is do-able, but only if you get all the questions right and barely miss in the final, however, there really isn’t much of a chance to “lose everything”. In addition, contestants return for multiple times, so much like Deal or No Deal, can become characters for the viewers to watch every day.

Paddy is a great host in this because he’s part funny, and actually gets opinionated at times, but when he plays default host (ask question, reveal result) it’s a bit tiresome, but when it comes to interacting with the contestants, he shines very well. He is trying to help the contestants win, but when he does the generic hosting duty, it’s weird.

The format does work, because you’re seeing a “man vs house” game, but in addition, you’re seeing another game “man vs man” when it comes to the leaderboard, there is an incentive to do well (play tomorrow) and a motivation (being last and you’re eliminated)

I love numeric-guestimate game shows, and guess the survey shows show up here in America from time to time, so it’s good seeing another take on it. It’s enjoyable, even with it’s Cliffhangers style end game.

If I had to change the format, I’d probably not ask all three questions in the final at once, to build tension, but I could see why asking all three up front could do well. Because the third question could be a cop-out if you have 50+ points left. So bravo for that.

The first 4 questions have no bonus in play, and keep 7 throw away 3
The last 3 questions have a bonus to play and keep 3 and throw away 7

And the last 3 of the end game are entirely player based, along with the toss-up there are 11 questions, and while it sometimes drags like Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader, there is room for comedy, which is wonderful for this show.

It’s a show that serves it’s purpose, even if it’s on cruise control from time to time.

GOOD RATING

 

REVIEW: Bullseye

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Bullseye is from the creators of Fear Factor, Wipeout and 101 Ways to Leave a Game Show and it shows… for all the wrong reasons.

Bullseye takes a bunch of the final stunts from Fear Factor (the “land the ball to the center target”) and tries to have a sadistic host like 101 Ways to Leave a Game Show (complete with helicopter) and attempt to make it as lighthearted as Wipeout, but this recipe doesn’t clash. It’s an interesting “skill” based game show… but that’s about it, right down to the $50,000 top prize.

Each episode has three stunts – One “by land” one “by sea” and the last “by air”

In the first episode, contestants were dangling from a helicopter and had to drop a “bomb” onto a target, whoever were the four closest (two man and two women) went to the next round… as much “adrenaline” as you’ll expect from these stunts, it’s really boring to see the first round played eight times in a row… and only four people remain at the end. It goes 8 to 4

In the second round, done in the water, (filmed at Universal Studios), they are held upside down and dunked in the water 7 times, and attempt to grab the most targets (“bullseyes”) whoever are the three with the most go through to the final round. It goes 4 to 3 (wait, not 2?)

In the final round, whoever is the person who hits the bullseye in the fastest time wins, they drive in off-road vehicles along a dirt track, whoever can knock all five targets the fastest wins (3 of them are rotating back and forth, requiring movement)

The production is very cheap, but attempted to look like it’s high-end, but no really, it’s just that one stunt from Fear Factor again and again and again. The hosting is alright, I kind of wish the main host demonstrated the stunts (because he’s a big adrenaline junkie) and Godfrey had more quips, he’s better at this than “I Bet You Will”

How I would do it? Simply have less contestants. 6 contestants, with the 2 lowest (regardless of gender) eliminated each round, one final “stunt” is played for a HUGE cash prize (like maybe $250,000) and in one attempt get a bullseye (the further away, the less money earned) (maybe $100,000 then $50,000 then $25,000 then $10,000) if they miss the target, they earn nothing, so there are “stakes” in a 4th stunt.

BAD RATING