Pick a Letter
The Letters Bonus is your way of having the chance to sit in the hotseat and ask for a vowel or a consonant; most of us go our whole lives never doing much more than playing along at home. We were psyched up, as you can imagine, but when we played we found that the round lacked the character that the show usually brings.
You’ll be pitted against another, just as you were in Catch Phrase, but there’s no true competition here for the answers are generated at random. Also, although the bonus claims to let you create words, the system creates yours (and your opponents) for you; it’s all out of your hands.
What is more, we found that we virtually always lost; our words never consisted of more than five letters, while our opponent ended up with well over eight. It seems all a little too unfair.
Countdown After Hours
There’s a wild side to this slot machine, which may surprise those that know and watch the show, for the programme is known for being as quaint and as polite as can be. The wild symbol can be found in groups of threes, fours and fives, with the five of a kind combo being the highest paying at 5,000 credits; that’s a lot of cash for such a small pay-in.
However, although the wild can gift you a lot of money, due to its inability to affect the scatter symbols, of which there’s three, the impact it has upon the matrix is lesser than you might be used to. It’s a shame; it’s like we’ve had to choose between having bonuses or having wild wins, and the former won out. Yet those bonuses don’t herald nearly as much cash as that one symbol potentially can.
When we started playing Countdown, we got the distinct impression we’d played this game before, and then it hit us – we had! We’d played Catch Phrase and 3-2-1, which are essentially the same as this title, but with different names and themes. Sadly, when it comes to innovation and formats, Endemol doesn’t seem to even attempt to think outside the box, and so you’re left with many games that all play the same.
Take the other two bonus rounds, the Conundrum and Numbers Bonus, both of them are basically the same bonuses that we’ve played before, but with a facelift. The Numbers Bonus gifts free games and multipliers, like in Catch Phrase, and the Conundrum gets you to collect various items to gain prizes, like in 3-2-1. Once you know that secret, any magic instilled from these games gets washed away, and cold hard reality hits you.
This is one of those times where we can’t decide whether we love or loathe this real cash game – there’s so much that doesn’t work here, and yet the theme sucks us in because of its familiarity. It’s good for an easy punt, and it’s a simple way of playing alongside the show, but we wouldn’t say it’s a slot machine you’ll come back to for seconds. It lacks a certain something that the television show definitely has.