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Family Fortunes 2nd Edition

For: Mobile

With Vernon Kay's sun-tanned face and Bolton drawl thankfully omitted

Product: Family Fortunes 2nd Edition | Developer: Spacehopper Studios | Publisher: Player X | Format: Mobile | Genre: Film/ TV tie- in, Quiz | Players: 1-10 | Format: J2ME | File size: 156KB | Reviewed on: K750i other handsets | Version: Europe
Family Fortunes 2nd Edition Mobile, thumbnail 1
Hosted by Bob Monkhouse, when Family Fortunes first hit British TV screens nearly 30 years ago in 1979, the world was very different. Margaret Thatcher had just become Britain's first woman Prime Minister and the city of Liverpool celebrated its Kop heroes once again as they became top-flight champions for the 11th time, while Man United's wait for a title stretched to 22 years.

And in the blossoming consumer electronics world, Sony joined Philips in the race to continue the development of the as-yet unlaunched digital music medium: the Compact Disc. It would be some three years before the medium rolled out to the mainstream.

Times have certainly changed.

Yet despite this, Family Fortunes is still something of a national institution and continues to entertain viewers in its own unique way. Even with TV and radio DJ personality, Vernon Kay, now at the helm.

Clearly, Player X reckons that this long-held affection for the show, and its simple concept will make Family Fortunes 2nd Edition a sure fire hit on mobile. But rather than this mobile version swelling the gameplay bank account to bursting point, it's ended up being something of a bounced cheque.

Just like the TV show, the idea behind Family Fortunes is to guess the top three answers given by the public to a series of questions while playing as one of two competing families (you can input your own family name but you are always up against the Johnsons). The more popular your answers, the more points you get, and the first team to 300 moves on to the Big Money round.

You're presented with a question and then a list of the ten responses gained from the survey which you can scroll quickly down, while the clock ticks down, creating that extra bit of tension. If you pick the wrong answer three times, the opposition takes control and steal whatever points you have.

As you'd expect for this format, a multiplayer element is included. You can select standard two-player mode, Team Play (where it's fingers on the buzzers) and Party Play (between two to ten players can take part through pass-the-handset play).

Although it's an improvement on previous Player X Family Fortunes titles, here, the biggest flaw is how stern a test it is to be able to pick the top three answers.

Sure, you'll be okay most of the time picking the top answer, but picking the second and third from the nine available options is tough because on a lot of the questions many of the answers seem as plausible, or indeed as random as the rest.

You have to get into the mind of Joe Public, and frankly, it's not a nice place to be. Even then, it feels like it's all down to luck. Frustrating is not the word (though it might be the top answer if you asked 100 players of this game).

Graphically, the game uses a small but pleasing palette of pastels, while the menus are clearly designed. Having said that, it's by no means groundbreaking and you would expect possibly a bit more to enliven what is fundamentally a text-based quiz game.

The sound department, meanwhile, features a few beeps and a quickly irritating rendition of the familiar Family Fortunes theme tune that will soon have you punching your silent option.

But if you were to put your phone in silent mode then you'd miss the 'uh-uhhh' sound when your chosen answer isn't in the top three. It's a good effort, sure, but would it really have been too much trouble to have gone for a digitized version of the iconic sound taken directly from the show?

In the end, though, there's a bigger issue than the disappointing production values. And that is that Family Fortunes 2nd Edition suffers from the same problem as its predecessors: the virtual public's answers to the questions are just too random.
Family Fortunes 2nd Edition
Reviewer photo
Chris Maddox | 1 October 2007
A headache of a game. Slightly better in multiplayer but a lack of polish and outrageous difficulty will leave you frustrated
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