capsule review

Wheel of Fortune

Years before Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? invaded the living rooms of America, the spin of the Wheel of Fortune had TV viewers shouting out answers. MacSoft's Wheel of Fortune brings the classic game show to your desktop, complete with Vanna White as the smiling hostess.

There are three different play modes: Normal, Solo, and Tournament. If you're playing alone, Solo's the way to go. Solo mode bypasses having to listen to your computer-generated opponents use Vanna's name at every possible opportunity: "I'd like to buy a vowel, Vanna." "Vanna, I will spin the wheel." If you're playing with friends, or with colleagues on a business trip, the Normal mode certainly delivers entertainment. The game allows up to 3 simultaneous players, and it's a great way to pass the time.

The way the game is set up on the screen is very simple and straightforward -- no reading of a manual required, no key commands to memorize. A handy booklet is included for those who aren't familiar with the game. The game keeps track of your scores, which means that your eligibility to play in tournaments is dependent on your performance in regular rounds. If your score is exceptional, your name will appear on the High Score list. It's not easy to reach a high score though -- it takes considerable dedication. The puzzles are challenging, and there is a time limit to making a move -- indecision will cost you your turn.

Overall, watching the puzzles on your computer screen is not unlike watching the game on your television screen. Vanna White, listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as The World's Most Frequent Clapper, is a jovial and encouraging hostess, clapping as contestants do well, moving the game along when a play is lost. Her encouragement can become tiresome, however. Additionally, there is a bright Safari/Caribbean backdrop, giving the game a Vegas-like appearance, and Vanna's head often appears in a circle at the top of the screen as she hosts the game. A studio audience oohs and ahs whenever the wheel nears the Bankrupt, Prize, Lose A Turn, and high value markers.

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