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DS  header logo

Deal or No Deal

For: DS

Definitely no deal

Product: Deal or No Deal DS | Publisher: Koch Media | Format: DS | Genre: Film/ TV tie- in, Puzzle | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
Deal or No Deal DS DS, thumbnail 1
Christmas does it to us all. You set out to buy your loved ones carefully chosen presents that they'll really appreciate, then find yourself surrounded by so many novelty pairs of musical socks and 'hilarious' slogan shot glasses that they start to look like a really good idea. That's until you get them home and realise you've spent a couple of hundred quid on crap that's either going to end up on top of the wardrobe or in the local landfill.

Still, we can at least now understand why you might feel tempted to buy Deal or No Deal. Well, actually, we can't because Deal or No Deal stopped being acceptable to watch over a year ago. It had great cult following for a while, then when Noel revealed it was only a success because he'd asked the cosmic forces for help, and everyone backed slowly away, hands aloft.

All we'll say is there's acceptable tat to buy at Christmas (the interactive DVDs and comedy CDs that at least raise a smile for some ten minutes on the big day) and there's Deal or No Deal on DS, which doesn't even manage that. It did cause a few seconds of spluttering when we saw Noel's in-game likeness, which looks like it's been drawn by a ten-year-old who's had their primary coloured crayons confiscated (Noel's very grey), but that was where the hilarity ended.

Along with the game's entertainment value, it turns out.

The game's two modes initially available are Contestant, where you play the familiar Deal or No Deal game, and Banker, in which you watch the AI play and do the banker's job of making the offers. The immediate problem with Contestant is that Deal or No Deal is actually a terrible concept once you take away its real-life 'character' contestants wrangling over real money. Without that atmosphere, it's not unlike playing 'Guess which hand it's in?' with a child over and over and over again.

The other issue is that when you play this type of game against a machine, you always have this nagging feeling it might be cheating so it effectively makes absolutely no difference which box you choose. On our first game we won £250,000, then in the next game that was the first box to come up. What are the odds, eh?

Mindscape has at least tried to do something within the limitations of the game's structure and has included a mini-game in which a mug is hidden underneath one of three boxes, before these are swapped about in front of you. Guess three in a row correctly and the banker makes you a better offer (or if you're playing as the banker, the contestant will accept a lower offer).

But incredibly, this mini-game actually manages to be less fun than randomly choosing boxes numbered 1-22. And, bizarrely, in Contestant you have to play it even after you've dealt and couldn't care less what the banker offers. It's just one of the game's many shoddy flaws that transforms it from just being an ill-advised concept to an astonishingly poorly executed experience.

Some examples? Well, you could read our 'PG Tips' below to get more ideas but, for now, take production values. The game has the Deal or No Deal theme tune but it doesn't have Noel's voice. His funny grey man portrayal simply speaks in speech bubble form. The US game, published by DSI, featured their host Howie Mandel fully animated, even if quite badly. But we don't even get that. We have blocky looking, frozen contestants with two animations: a 'happy' blue box one and a 'sympathetic' red box one. And a mute Noel Edmonds with a misshapen head. It's staggering.

Or how about the content itself? Apart from one of the dullest and mostly broken single-player experiences we've ever experienced, the game's developer has attempted to offer an incentive for playing. And without resorting to a multiplayer option, it can't have been an easy task. Still, the result comes in the form of four unlockable extra modes, which are made available for each £500,000 you make through randomly tapping boxes in the style of a heavily drugged psychiatric patient.

We forced ourselves to unlock the first in the irrational hope it might turn things around. We purposefully ignored the fact that its title – Family Forfeit – didn't sound promising. And then inevitably came crashing down to reality when we realised this mode just lets you play as normal but with the virtual money in each box replaced by a mindboggling selection of forfeits. They include 'you can choose your favourite dessert' and also 'you must look after your pets'. No, really.

Ultimately, it doesn't really matter what you throw in when the core concept is so utterly, hopelessly broken – no addition would redeem such a flawed experience. Someone, early on in development, should have pointed out that the mechanics of the gameshow would never translate to video game form without some very serious thought put into adapting the essence of Deal or No Deal into a way that would make a compelling handheld affair. And then they should have been given the time and the budget to develop that idea. Because what we have instead is one of the most cynical attempts at cashing in on the Christmas commercial craze.

Spend your money on musical socks and shot glasses instead.
Deal or No Deal
Reviewer photo
Kath Brice | 5 December 2007
Deal or No Deal is proof TV shows don't always make a good video game. Or even a mediocre one. This is simply terrible – there's not a single redeeming feature in this whole sorry affair
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