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I’ve enjoyed the Price is Right, exposed to it infrequently, and found the show fascinating in small doses. I’m not really sure why; the games have entirely too much luck for my tastes, and everything is horribly overpriced. Yet the sheer variety of games on the show, coupled with my desire to accurately price (or overprice) the prizes keeps my interest in the show fairly high. I’ve never found myself thinking, “You know, we need a board game for the Price is Right”, but when I found out that such a game did indeed exist, I wasn’t adverse to trying it out.
The Price is Right board game (Endless Games, 2003 - no designer credited) is a reprint of a Milton Bradley game from 1986. The first board game got fairly negative reviews, especially comments on how it was out of date, so the new version attempted to fix those flaws. The game simulates 45 games from the show, as opposed to twelve in the first version, and prices have been updated also. If one is a fan of the Price is Right, this game would make a good nostalgic gift for that person; and if prepared correctly, it could function as a good activity at a function. If you don’t like the Price is Right, the sheer “bulkiness” of the board game isn’t going to change your mind.
Upon opening the box, one finds a massive amount of components, including a rules booklet, a prize booklet, several decks of different cards - including a standard playing deck, dice, six dry-erase bid boards, several cardboard cutouts for different games, some fake money, some scorecards, and a couple of spinners. Most of the bits aren’t needed with each player being given a scorecard and four of the players being given bid boards along with dry erase markers.
One player is the MC; they don’t play, but rather run the whole game and take both booklets. The game is made up of several “Contestant’s Row” minigames, depending on the amount of players. In each of these, the MC reads a prize from the prize book, with players writing on the bid boards their guess to how much the item costs. The player who comes closest to the actual price without going over wins the prize (writes the value on their scoreboard) and plays a minigame.
A pricing game spinner is spun to determine what minigame is played. The MC finds where in the booklet the game is found and secretly sets it up, allowing the contestant to play the game, possibly winning more money. There are entirely too many minigames to describe, but most of them try to accurately simulate the different games on the show. After a certain amount of pricing games (depending on players), a showcase showdown is played, where players spin a spinner, trying to come closest to $1.00 without going over. The winner along with the winner of another showcase showdown winner after another set of pricing games goes to the Showcases round, which is similar to the show, but without getting to actually see the stuff. The winner of the game is the person who has accumulated the most money, which is most probably the person who won the Showcases round.
Some comments on the game...
1.) Components: There are a TON of bits in the game, and it took me a while to sort them all out. A Plinko deck of cards, a Pass the Buck deck, a generic deck, a special card deck, and literally piles of other components. I’m certainly glad they included all of this stuff, but it’s a royal pain to sort through when playing a game. All the components try to emulate the spirit of the game, although they certainly are a lot less visually stunning.
2.) Prices: The prices in the prize booklet are currently accurate or at least fairly accurate. They should hold true for a couple of years, but then the game will get a little outdated. The prize booklet has little boxes where one can check off prizes when they are used, but I doubt anyone would play the game that much. My biggest problem with the prize booklet was that there were no pictures - only a name and possibly a short description of each item, coupled with the price. This is all well and good but not nearly as useful as actually SEEING the item. I realize that the game can’t emulate this very well without costing several thousand dollars, but it does take away a bit of the “magic.”
3.) Minigames: The minigames are fun and interesting, but they take FOREVER to set up, especially when the MC hasn’t encountered them before. When I was the MC, I would have to quickly read the rules for the game (it’s difficult to memorize the rules for forty-five games) then find the components needed, then set up the game. All of this happens while the other players are impatiently tapping their fingers on the table and getting rather bored. I moved as quickly as I could, but setting up for each game took a minimum of five minutes.
4.) Preparation: I think the solution to the problems above is preparation. Instead of having a player spin to see what minigame they’ll play, just choose them ahead of time and have them ready to go. In fact, I’d go farther and say that the true way this game should be played is in a large group with all the trappings worked out ahead of time, including pictures, full blown descriptions, etc.
5.) Game? and Fun Factor: I don’t really see this playing well as a game, unless you are with some Bob Barker fanatics who must play all things Price is Right. It could possibly make a good group activity, but even then you would need to spend a lot of work and time preparing properly. If a good, prepared MC is running the show, then all involved can expect a lot of fun. Otherwise, prepare to spend long periods of time bored.
Who would I buy this game for? I would buy it for gameshow enthusiasts, if they happened to like this particular show. I wouldn’t buy it for any gamers or as a substitute for a good party game. It’s passable as a game, and there’s certainly variety in the game. But dare I say it; there’s almost too much variety and too many components, raising the complexity of the game to a level it should not be at. Since I own the game, I’m sure I’ll set up a Price Is Right event in one of my Consumer Math classes in the future. But as a game at parties? I think I’ll pass.
“Real men play board games.”