I fashion myself as a game show fanatic. I enjoy watching footage of gameshows past and present, and from here and abroad. So just imagine my giddy delight when a game show news blog announced the arrival of wedigtv.com, and its collection of broadband game show re-creations from England. The crew at WeDigTV spent hours contacting the original shows' hosts for recording sessions and digging up archive footage to bring you games that almost exactly reflect what appears on TV.
Countdown is based on one of the longest running game shows in the world. Currently hosted by Des O'Connor and assisted by Carol Vorderman, this show features two contestants battling it out in a game of letters, numbers, and "the crucial Countdown Conundrum." Each round is played against a giant 30-second clock, while the famous Countdown music plays. (Think "Jeopardy!" theme music.) In this version though, the clock is 45 seconds long, but that's not noticeable enough to deter from gameplay.
This broadband version lets you play two letters rounds, two numbers rounds, and the final conundrum round. In the letters rounds, you select nine letters, choosing between consonants and vowels. After the letters are presented, the timer starts. Type in or click on the letters to make as many words as you can find. Keep in mind that the goal is not to make more words, but to make the longest word that you can. After time is up, select one word you'd like to submit, and see how many points you'll earn, plus a suggestion for a longer word that could be made. More points are given for a longer word, and that elusive 9-letter word is worth double points. And don't forget British spelling... it's "colour," not "color!"
In the numbers rounds, you select six numbers from a board of 24 tiles. (The top four tiles in the diagram are the "big numbers," 25, 50, 75, and 100. The remaining three rows are two each of the numbers 1-10.) Your goal is to come as close to a randomly-selected number as possible, using the four basic operations (add, subtract, multiply, and divide). When inputting your solution, click the circle to cycle through the possible operations, then choose the two numbers to fill in the blanks. Remember that you do NOT need to use all of the numbers to reach the target. Once, I hit the target number 108 simply by adding 100 and 8.
The final round of play is the conundrum, which is a jumbled-up nine-letter word. Buzz in when you think you know what the unscrambled word is, and quickly input the solution. This round sounds simple, but plays a significant role in a close match-up.
On all of WeDigTV's games, the contestants are represented by pink or blue outlined figures. (You always play as pink.) The footage has been excellently re-edited to fit these colorful people in the game, but at points, the camera is left on them for too long, creating little awkward pauses.
To add to the awkwardness, the game also pauses for commercial breaks... and yes, there are real commercials. (Hey, ya gotta pay the bills somehow.) As of yet, there are only a few companies sponsoring ad time, but the commercials all include an interactive bit to them to keep you interested. Take note though, on rare occasions, the game has been known to "hang" coming into or going out of these commercial breaks, so you may need to restart your game.
Five other interactive game shows are available on WeDigTV, including British versions of "The Price is Right," "Family Feud," and others. If you register with the website, you can have your scores entered into a high scores list, and be eligible for some prizes. (Note: I have not checked on the availability of prizes, so the offers may not be available to American players.)
Important note: These games heavily rely on video footage to present the action. Therefore, a broadband connection is recommended (if not required) to play all of these games.
Of course, to end this review, I think it's only appropriate to say (sing it along with me), "Da-da, da-da, da-da-da-da! (BOOOM!)"
Update: It appears that the above link for the Countdown link still works, but going to wedigtv's new homepage leads you to a new beta version of the site, combining all of the games in a more TV-like atmosphere, with each game on its own channel. There are still some glitches to work out (such as the game hanging in the middle of play), but these kinks should be worked out eventually. Also, be sure and check out the two newest game shows, "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" and "Deal or No Deal!"