C O N C E N T R A T I O N
This is one of those games that seems truly silly when you really think about how it must have come across in the pitch meetings. “You know that game you played in preschool where you had pictures of horsies and duckies face down on the floor and you had to remember which was which? Let’s make a TV show out of it!” “Hey, I have an idea, let’s add a wrinkle where the cards are hiding pieces of a really confusing picture puzzle that doesn’t even make that much sense when the whole thing is revealed!” Guess what? It works! Before “The Price is Right” took the honor in 1987, this was the longest-running game show in daytime television history, with a 14 ½ year run on NBC, followed quickly by a 6-year run in daily first-run syndication. It would also go on to join that elite club of game shows that kept churning out new home editions after cancellation. And those home games, top-to-bottom, had to be some of the best ever produced. Granted, the game is hard to screw up, but still…
You have a strong, plastic two-piece console that sandwiches together to hold in place the world-famous Rolomatic Puzzle Changer, which has a total of 60 puzzles which are rolled into place easily without actually having to see the puzzle (enabling participation by the designated “emcee” in the games). The prize cards are shuffled and each is placed with a number on the board (again, simple for the emcee to do without giving away anything that would spoil the game).
Once everything is set up, the players take turns selecting two numbers at a time, trying to remember where the prizes are hidden and uncovering spaces like “Wild Card” and “Forfeit One Gift” along the way. Every match earns you a prize and the right to guess the rebus puzzle hidden behind the board. Do so and you win the game and prizes. According to the box game rules, you play three games and declare the player with the most money (in terms of merchandise value) the winner.
Oddly (or maybe not oddly, I guess) as the years went by, the new editions of the game essentially just gave you new puzzles and prize cards; additions that the actual series made as time went by never came into use. The NBC series had bonuses like the Cash Wheel (seen in 1960) and the Envelope and Its Unknown Contents (seen in 1962) which are nowhere to be seen, while the syndicated version introduced a two-part bonus round, neither part being seen in any edition. The home games continued to stick with the simple version that was used for most of the network run, and that’s fair; I guess they figured you don’t mess with success.
(60 puzzles are printed on each edition’s Rolomatic Puzzle Changer. If you’re playing best-of-three as the box rules suggest, then 20 complete games seems a tad low.)