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TUAW first look: JEOPARDY! for iOS

I'm not one to give up on hope. I've been trying out various incarnations of branded Jeopardy games since dinosaurs roamed the earth (I believe that T. Rex used an early version of Microsoft Windows before going extinct). The latest version to grace us is a US $1.99 mobile app, now available from App Store for iPhone and other iOS devices.

Duly licensed from Sony, this JEOPARDY! game (with mandatory caps and exclamation point, of course) brings the same branded detail as many of the previous versions while completely missing the point of what makes Jeopardy fun.

It's multiple choice.

I don't know why I keep expecting something better, because natural language recognition and pattern matching is a big burden to place on any game company. Unlike its game-show sister Wheel of Fortune, which translates easily to a computer-driven game (and yes, I have my issues with the Sony/App Store version of that title as well), the fun in Jeopardy is having the tantalizing "I know that I know that I know that" feeling, while struggling to remember exactly what it is that you know that you know.

Multiple choice kind of ruins that.

Face it. You can't do multiple choice in the form of a question, Alex. I guess the game itself is okay if you force yourself to come up with an answer before being presented with the multiple choice answers, but how you do that is up to you.

Moving beyond the multiple choice quibble, how's everything else? The animation is cheesy, the interaction feels a lot like 1994, but the core challenge database is pulled from some decent trivia. So that's the saving grace.

JEOPARDY! for iOS is not a terribly fun game, but it's not going to be the worst way to spend two bucks you've ever encountered. I bought Wheel of Fortune a while back, and it got played with for a day or two and then quickly ignored. I suspect that JEOPARDY! will meet the same fate.

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