In a way, the first “home game” I ever had was a model of the Wheel of Fortune my grandfather made for me when I was four. It was a simple toy made from some cardboard and bolts he had lying around. “Wheel of Fortune” was the first game show I really loved and couldn’t miss. It appealed to a four-year-old. A bright, colorful object surrounded by lights spins aimlessly, and then the camera switches to a big glittering green board, not only surrounded but also filled with lights. So imagine my delight walking through K-Mart one day and stumbling upon this: 

So I commenced to what a four-year-old does best, begging shamelessly while sweating and almost-but-not-quite crying like a televangelist during sweeps. To no avail, because, according to my mother, “It’s too expensive.” As any four-year-old knows, this is code for, “I would, but the thing is you’re adopted and I don’t really love you.” Maybe not, but Santa does. Santa did come through, sort of. He gave me the regular Wheel home game with the same dollar amounts through every round on a spinner and not an actual Wheel. I was happy with it; it was a silver medal. Still, I never forgot that glorious Deluxe edition.

But then Ebay came along and the game that was meant to be mine became mine…both editions, in fact. And I opened the box and saw what was before me.

Scale-model plastic replica of the wheel with dollar figures in the right places, plus additional wedges for updating the wheel’s cash values as the game progresses. Puzzle board with 33 spaces for big money possibilities, plus a special cardboard frame to surround the wheel for atmosphere, and a green plastic sleeve containing 160 puzzles, enough to cover forty complete games, plus free spin tokens, a used letter board, a black crayon for marking the used letter board, and play money of various denominations adorned with the show’s famous logo. It was like God Himself had designed the home version. And He saw the scale-model wheel, and the light beams shooting out of the cardboard frame, and He saw that it was good, and suitable for distribution at toy and department stores everywhere, and He was pleased.
 

As you can tell, I REALLY like this game. How could any Wheel fan not like it? It’s as faithful to the show as can possibly be done in box game format. The only changes in the box game: No bonus round, and a wrong guess eliminates a player for the rest of the round (which might be an interesting rule for the actual show). There’s also no shopping, but that part of the format was on life support by the time this game was released anyway, and besides, it’s based on the nighttime show, so no problem.

 

Speaking of which, take a look at this. Just as new game shows are hyped using photos from the pilot, toys are often hyped using the prototypes, and check out the specimen box game pictured on the back…They apparently originally designed this game with the daytime version in mind.

 

Here’s another nifty thing about the game. The instructions tell you where to put those extra six wedges as the game progresses, but notice that insertion holes aren’t around only those spaces. You can do it however you want! Maybe you’d like to leave that Free Spin available for the whole game…fine! Have the $500 space and the $900 space together instead of replacing one with the other…fine! Place the $1000, $2500, and $5000 wedges side-by-side to create a “murderer’s row” section of the wheel…fine! WHAT A WONDERFUL GAME!

EQUIPMENT: star
starstarstarstar
ACCURACY:starstarstarstarstar

TRANSLATION:starstarstarstarstar
FUN FACTOR:starstarstarstarstar

REPLAY VALUE:starstarstarstarstar

DURABILITY: starstarstarstarstar

OVERALL RATING: starstarstarstarstar

I’ve heard a few folks gripe that their wheels were a little flimsy, mine doesn’t have that problem, so it keeps a high rating. Friction is a problem for the wheel as the years go by, but per a post on the Game Show Forum message board, baby oil remedies that problem nicely. As soon as I found that out, I actually went down to Wal-Mart, bought an 80 cent bottle of baby oil, and swabbed the rims of my wheel, even though the thing’s never actually been played.

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