Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?

“Who wants to jump off a cliff?”

Everything from the original show is here minus the real paper money – fifteen multiple-choice questions of varying difficulty, three lifelines, Regis Philbin and zero room for error. Get one answer wrong and you’re thrown off the show, and have to start anew. Along the road to the coveted one million dollar prize are two milestones that let you keep some cash should you screw up on later questions, an option to walk away and keep your previous earnings, and a scoreboard that lists your current winnings (but doesn’t keep score of past gaming sessions).

Most notable is evil wind-up toy Regis Philbin voicing the entire experience, delivering a constant stream of quips and random remarks as you progress. Also impressive is the way the game handles the Phone A Friend lifeline – instead of bothering one of your own friends, Regis calls up one of his equally disturbed pals who may or may not be of any help. The ‘Ask the Audience’ lifeline is another interesting bit, with results taken from actual online polls. Unfortunately, too much of what is asked here is outdated 90’s American pop-culture or just plain silly nonsense, with questions like: “According to Popsicle Industries, what’s the most popular brand of ice cream flavor available in the US?” raising my eyebrow highest. It’s not vanilla, by the way.

Behold the one million dollar question.

Even in an age when you couldn’t look things up on Wikipedia, the chief concern here aren’t the questions themselves, but the frequency at which they start repeating after an hour of gameplay. The prolonged ‘Phone a Friend’ dialogues for each question might have been to blame for this (there’s a limit as to how much audio you can jam into one CD, and the voices here are top quality). There’s no way to filter out the uselessly outdated pop-culture questions either, making this game less about what you know and more about what you can memorize when the questions inevitably start repeating again and again.

But the real million-dollar question here is why this tolerable but ultimately feeble piece of programming sold as well as it did. Only a few months into its original launch date and Who Wants To Be A Millionaire surpassed such heavyweights as Half-Life, Baldur’s Gate or Brood War. In the end it enjoyed a hefty one million sales, quite an impressive and also iconic figure considering the final package. There’s little doubt who the real millionaires were.

System Requirements: Pentium II 300Mhz, 64 MB RAM, 3D Video Card, Win98/2000/XP

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