The Game: You mean you’re the one person in the country who doesn’t know all the rules and the lifelines? Well, ooooooookay. The computer (sitting in for Regis Philbin) asks you a series of questions with four possible answers. Only one of these is the correct answer. If you’re not sure, you can ask an equally-computerized audience or phone a quasi-friend (actually, the phone-a-friend option in ABC.com’s online version of the game draws from a bank of answers given by people who have actually been contestants on the show), or you can eliminate two of the wrong answers. If you guess the wrong answer, you wind up going home a little less rich than you might be if you simply walk away. (ABC.com, 1999 – this game has since been removed from the site)
Memories: Admittedly, I’m waiting for Sony to get it in gear and release the Playstation version of Millionaire in late June, but for now, there’s the rather good online version of the game on ABC’s web site. At the behest of the benign overlords as Disney, ABC.com repeatedly – and I do mean repeatedly – reminds you that you’re not playing for any kind of money or prizes.
The online game features music and some rather chunky attempts at ersatz full-motion-video of the set. Even with other things such as my e-mail client running, the music was surprisingly free of glitching, even if my connection was a lowly 40Kbps (which seems to be about as fast as you can go here). This version of Millionaire also introduces a timer element to the game – you don’t get to reason things out aloud, or trade cheesy jokes with Regis. You have 30 seconds to get the right answer, period.
For an online game, Millionaire runs extraordinarily smoothly. If I have a single big gripe with the online version, it is that the games are preset, offering you questions that have already been used on the show in nearly every episode between now and last fall. The questions have to be presets, I understand that. But couldn’t we randomize things a bit? As it is, once you’ve played all the games on file, you’re out of luck until the next site update comes along.
I know some readers will think I’ve really violated my charter by delving into (A) a Millionaire game and (B) an online-only game. If anything, it simply whets my appetite for the Playstation version. But I do occasionally like to watch the TV show if it happens to be on, so this is kinda fun. It helps me to realize how hopeless I’d be on the actual show!