I am a big fan of the Jeopardy TV show. I fancy myself good at trivia, since I have proven over and over again that I don't know anything important. Thus when Alex Trebek recommended the Jeopardy DVD home game, I made sure that Santa knew that's just what I wanted.
Santa came through and left the game under the tree; I was so excited! This game comes with a box that is inserted between your own DVD player and the TV using RCA composite video inputs. This is the start of an issue since my DVD player has an HDMI hookup to my TV but it still has the old-fashioned hookups. It also comes with wireless buzzers, ahem, signaling devices, that had me chomping at the bit to get this thing going. The setup of the game requires you to program the controllers with the remote of your DVD player and then you use the signaling devices that came with the game to do the rest. The Jeopardy box comes with a wire to an IR emitter that must be positioned correctly near the IR receiver on your DVD player to work. Oh, and by the way your DVD player better support closed captions for the game to work. This is where the troubles began.
Tryout 1: I have an OPPO DV-981HD upconverting DVD player to get me 1080p input to my HD TV. Luckily it still has regular video input so I put the DVD machine between it and the TV and got to programming. Unfortunately I have just found out after many months that this DVD player doesn't have closed captioning. Just press "title" or "subtitle" you say? That didn't work either. Some searching revealed that many of the new digital DVD players don't have closed caption. I love my OPPO player, it works great for me and has a great picture on the TV. No great loss for me, but a big problem for the game. On to DVD player two.
Tryout 2: Glancing around at the TV console and components I noticed my neglected Xbox. That thing plays DVD's doesn't it? So I installed the Jeopardy box between the Xbox and the TV and got started. I should mention that I have many extra cables (even for the non-standard Xbox), so this wasn't a problem for me except for the endless threading of the cables in and out of the entertainment center. This time I made it a quarter of the way through the programming. The game refused to recognize the up arrow on the Xbox DVD controller. Skipping that step left me with a game that still wouldn't work. On to DVD player number three.
Tryout 3: Upstairs in the exercise room we have a Proscan DVD player that is so old that it wouldn't play the Desperate Housewives DVD's or my copy of Being John Malkovich. I had already given it up for lost so I knew that I needed a new DVD player for this room. We will return here in a minute.
Tryout 4: Did you know you can get an Insignia DVD player for $30? Now I do. I grabbed two of these (one for Jeopardy, one for exercising) and raced home to try it out. I opned only one and tried it with the Jeopardy system. No closed caption so no programming! I returned one since it wasn't playing well with the jeopardy game, but now we can watch DVD's while we are exercising. I was ready to give up on the Jeopardy game, but...
Tryout 3 redux: In my desperation I tried the Jeopardy DVD in the ancient Proscan DVD player. It worked! I unplugged that player and got it downstairs. Once again I installed the Jeopardy box between this DVD player and the TV. Then a miracle occurred, I made it through the programming of the remote. Left arrow, Up arrow, Right arrow, Enter, and we were good to go. Let's play a game. Well then it froze up on the way to the menus. I took out the DVD and carefully cleaned it with only strokes across the disc, not in circles around. I blew some compressed air into the player to get some of the dust of years out of it. We fired up the game again and got a game started! I was losing and I blamed it on the speed of buzzing in on the controllers but we checked and they worked, I was just slow.
Impressions of the game: The game is slow and the answers (questions) were only multiple choice. The game doesn't show all of the dollar values under the categories so you don't know whether you are finished a category or not. Don't believe the demonstration video on Amazon, game play is slow and tortuous except for the frantic pressing to buzz in. We made it through a round of Jeopardy and then the game froze up again on the first question of Double Jeopardy. We then packed that game up and returned it to Amazon. There is a help site by MGA, the maker of the game, that doesn't offer much more advice than how to position the IR emitter of the jeopardy box onto your DVD player properly. That wasn't our problem.
This game had so much promise. As we printed out the return slip "Santa" finally read the comments on the Amazon site. They are uniformly negative and seem to have been written in a drunken rage after hours of failure to set up the device. Most folks were unable to program the box and the rest found that the game froze up all the time. Even the youtube comments under one person's video of playing the game express the same frustrations. The game costs $60 to $75, and we know that DVD players can be as low as $30 why didn't the just make a game with DVD player built in that might actually have worked or been preprogrammed. (I am not the only who thought this.) Oh Alex, you have let me down on this one. I guess I will just have to take the test and get on the show if I want to play.
A new hope: If you would like some Jeopardy questions and trivia to keep you entertained in the absence of a good home Jeopardy game there is the Jeopardy archive maintained by fans of the show. You can also go to the official Jeopardy website. There is a new online search scheduled for late January. Are you in?