Reviewed: July 28, 2007
Released: May 14, 2007
Iíve never quite understood peoplesí fascination with game shows. Whether they consist of trivia or a ďsolve the puzzleĒ game for prizes, since Iím not the one winning the Caribbean cruises or new cars, I just canít get into it. While itís sometimes fun to yell at the television when you figure out the answer to the puzzle before the poor schmuck on the screen does, that tends to get old after doing it every night of the week. Still, plenty of people disagree with me, which is why as long as we have television, weíll always have game shows.
For those of us who simply canít get enough of puzzles for prizes, the old game show Concentration has been replicated for our enjoyment as a PC game. Although you canít actually win anything for playing the PC version of Concentration (as the game feels the need to warn you at the starting menu), you do get to play as though youíre one of the contestants for the show from the privacy of your own home. Sounds like fun for some of us, sure, but I promise you, in a completely unbiased way, that itís not.
The television game show Concentration is a game that consists of matching and solving puzzles. There is a grid of numbered tiles that that can be flipped over to reveal a prize. Matching two of the same prizes up ďwinsĒ you the item revealed on the other side of the tile (which consists of anything from a trip to Universal studios to a darling set of glassware) as well as another turn against your opponent. Once the prizes have been revealed on the other side, the doors tiles fall away, and little by little, a Pictionary style puzzle is revealed beneath. Guess the puzzle beneath, and you win the round.
And thatís it. Sure, there are three levels of difficulty, none terribly difficult, as well as a two player mode, but Concentration is so simplistic, so repetitive, and so completely boring, I honestly canít see anyone wanting to play it for very long, not even fans of the show.
There are simply puzzles after puzzles that are nearly identical to the last, with little variation. There are bonus levels at the end of the last round for the winner that changes only in that the matching system is timed, and there is no puzzle to solve at the end. And thatís all there is to it.
While this method of game play pretty much stays true to the actual game from the television, it simply does not translate well to a computer game. Though there are over a hundred puzzles to solve, without variation this simply doesnít matter. Iíve whittled away my time having more fun playing computer solitaire.
When I tried the two-player mode with a friend, he agreed with me: Concentration is simply not any fun. We played one round, said, ďforget itĒ and had a swell time watching an apple brown instead.
The graphics of Concentration are pretty much like every other aspect of the game--as dull as watching paint dry. Basically, the graphics consist of what looks like a game board with numbered squares. Beneath the squares are pictures of the prizes to be matched, which are nothing more than simplistic drawings.
Once you have flipped over the tiles and matched the prizes to each other, the tiles or "doors" as they are called in the game are opened and reveal the picture puzzle to be solved. The puzzles underneath the tiles are very cartoonish and silly, and, well, that's about all there is to Concentration, visually.
I suppose it could be argued that a game like Concentration is obviously not about the look, but about the game mechanisms, but considering how lackluster the game is as a whole, maybe a few bells and whistles in the graphics department couldn't have hurt. It looks as though it could have been made anywhere from the mid-nineties up until now, which is to say that this game's graphics are underwhelming and forgettable.
Concentration has but one song to it, which plays during the menus and when you solve a puzzle. It sounds like a typical game show song, which is to say it's catchy in the most irritating way, especially since it repeats one line of notes over and over and over and over and over and over again.
During the actual gameplay however, all that is heard is canned applause when a piece of the puzzle is solved, along with a "ding, ding!" noise, and a disembodied game show host voice repeating several phrases over and over again depending on the actions you take. For instance, when you don't match the tiles up correctly, disembodied game show host voice states the obvious and says, "that's not it." When you do make a match, he states the obvious yet again and says, "Well done! Let's see what's behind these two doors." And guess what? You see what's behind those two doors! Amazing, isn't it?
Still, since the soundtrack and sound effects are so sparse in Concentration, the game would be even more boring without the announcer. The voice used does sound very close to the typical game show host voice that we hear all the time on television. Nonetheless, the songs, sounds and voice of Concentration are very repetitive and help cement this game well into the realm of being a snooze.
Let me be honest; Concentration is not fun, not for one player or two. In fact, it is only vaguely entertaining (and Iím using that term for lack of a better word) for about five minutes and then you feel like getting up and doing something more fun, like getting to those dinner dishes that need to be done before you go to bed, or perhaps mow the lawn. Unless you absolutely love (i.e. have a strange obsession with) the game show Concentration, youíll probably play this game for a full five minutes before you turn it off, put it away and completely forget that you ever purchased a PC game called Concentration. And itís for the better, trust me.
Game shows remain a mystery to me, at least the ones that donít give you fun pieces of trivia and perhaps even teach you a thing or two. Unless you are actually a contestant, or hope to be one someday, why bother? And if youíre not even going to get the satisfaction of watching human reactions to winning or losing a game, then why try to replicate it in a computer game?
The results are mind numbing. Just stick to real game shows. Even falling asleep in front of one on the television is better than falling asleep in front of one on the computer; after all, sofas make better napping places than computer chairs.