Game: Family Feud
Platform: Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES)
Date Of Release:Fall 1993
Ahh, Family Feud. Home to the lecherous Richard Dawson, the asinine Richard Karn, and the comically benign Louie Anderson. None of its hosts have ever seemed particularly fit for the role of game show host, with the exception of Ray Combs, blessed with twinkling eyes and dashing good looks (unfortunately, he was paralyzed in a car accident in 1995 and took his life 4 years later.)
This game features Mr. Combs as the host, and as your typical game-show video game goes, it's standard fare. The game itself pretty much follows the original rules of the game show, succinctly described in Chris-O's writeup.
Typing in the answers WAS difficult: holding down Y to make the cursor move faster led to a frenzy of left and right to get to the letter P .. then it's off to A! The game, in a bout of cruelty, also only gave you 60 "game" seconds to do it. The clock itself moved much faster; I'd say you had 35, tops.
What this meant was that whenever I played with my mom, I would have to type her answers in for her. Needless to say, this was something of a killjoy. I guess the only response to that is, "What did you expect?"
The Never-Ending Giggle
So what makes this game so special? The secret lies in its fuzzy logic.
Apparently, the game designers had decided to be a little more lenient to appease those with spelling issues: the game would now accept "FEBUARY," "NAIL POLLISH," and, yes, "POTATOE." This was all fine and dandy, especially if you didn't get that last letter or two in before the buzzer ("AARON BU"!)
But what made this game so intoxicating for my friends and I was the occasional grasp at the surreal. Some notorious examples include:
- Category: "Name something you'll find in a pet store." I had already typed in "dog food" (#2) and "doghouse" (#4). I had also gotten "fishbowl" (#5), "catnip" (#6), and, oddly, "cage" (#1). I had also just gotten my third strike, and my friend Girish went in for the kill. Of course, he had drawn as much a blank as I had, and so he typed in the word "dog" while trying to think of an answer. Unfortunately, time ran out on him. I smirked, until ... *DING* #3 turned over. The answer was "leash." Apparently dog was enough of a context clue.
- Category: "Name a household appliance." My friend beat me to the buzzer in the head-to-head, and guessed "toaster". *DING* #1 turned over. "Oven." We both looked at each other, he chose to play, typed in "toaster" again, and got #4 ("toaster"). Brutal.
- Category: "Name a famous desert." Again, my friend wins the head-to-head and promptly types in "apple pie," much to my delight. The #1 answer turns out to be "apple pie," much to my chagrin. So much for quality control.
- Category: "Name something you take camping." 9 answers! I'm playing by myself against the computer, and I get the first 7, but then I'm stuck. I get 2 strikes, including "matches," which I thought was a great answer. Eventually, I strike out, and the computer steals the category with ... "match". Apparently the handy-dandy survey people make do with the singular kind on their trips.
- Category: "Name something women carry in their purse." The most blatant cheating I've ever seen. My friend and I are playing as a team against the computer. We get 3 strikes, but there's only one answer left on the board. Whenever the computer chooses to lose, it types in "???" as its answer. Watching it type that in brings about a vague inner pleasure that the computer actually plays fair now and then. We watch as the computer begins to type ... "???"! We high-five and then *DING* the final answer turns over, revealing "chewing gum." The computer had TRIED to lose, and still won.
Still, the story of the never-ending giggle is one that should only be told sparingly, for it can kill weaker men.
The category? "Name something you buy in gallons." 6 answers on the board. I buzz in just ahead of my friend. "Ice Cream." #4. He guesses "milk" and gets #1. He chooses to pass.
At this point, I'm kind of worried. I can't think of anything else that comes in gallons. And there are 2 answers left.
I'm desperately thinking of any and all liquids.
"Orange Juice." ERRR!
So now it's me and #2. Behind milk, ahead of oil. Doing quick math, I figure 16 people out of 100 said this. It must be pretty popular if 1 in 6 people know about it. Molasses? Soda? Wine?
Suddenly it occurs to me that gasoline and oil are technically different answers.
Perplexed, I watch as Girish goes for the steal with the next choice, "Soda."
Now both of us are curious. What the hell else comes in gallons?
1 out of 6 people, when asked what they buy in gallons, said mayonnaise. Where the hell was this survey taken, in Amsterdam? Girish and I got the giggles. Real hard. We laughed for half an hour at the thought of someone saying to themselves, "Wouldn't it be great to sell Miracle Whip by the gallon? These huge quart jars just don't do it for me anymore!" (generic-man informs me a gallon of mayo would have 25,600 calories.) I didn't believe them. It seemed like the game was perpetrating a vicious lie. We took a trip to the store the next day, and sure enough: mayo by the gallon. To this day, the infamous Mayonnaise incident still causes us to break up in laughter. YMMV.
So what can you expect from the game? Well, certainly there is a lot to offer in categories: I don't recall one repeating in the recent past. Playing against the computer loses its flair quickly: you always have the advantage of speed on your side. However, throwing in active opponents makes the game endlessly fun: scrambling to get those last letters right, wild guesses on 3rd strikes, and, of course, wacky unpredictability in the game's Levenshtein module. Highly recommended for drunken parties with a megaphone for shouting out the clues.
Repeat Value 8/10
Family Fun 9/10