We’re not sure the games we enjoy playing translate well to a television experience. For instance, the recent TV version of Crossword is epically boring. Similarly, Wheel of Fortune and The Price is Right both lose considerable entertainment value when played alone. Deal or No Deal: Million Dollar Challenge, the official App Store version of the hit game show, turns out to be nowhere near as exciting on the iPhone’s screen as it is on TV.
If you’ve seen the show, forgive us this quick explanation. DoND is a mathematical probability game, gussied up with models holding briefcases and a mysterious Banker figure as the odds-maker. Those 25 briefcases hold numbers denoting a monetary sum from one penny all the way up to a million bucks. At the game’s onset, you pick a case, hoping it holds one of the higher numbers, and keep it throughout the game as a bargaining chip. Then, as you remove the remaining 24 briefcases and the various dollar amounts they represent come off the board, the Banker will offer you a sum of money to relinquish your briefcase. This is the eponymous deal.
The goal is to take briefcases of lesser quantities off the board, so your briefcase becomes more likely to hold a substantial sum. As you whittle down the odds in your favor, the Banker’s offer increases; the only actual playing one does during the course of this game comes in its latter stages, to figure out at what point taking the deal becomes fiscally prudent.
All of this is managed through DoND’s simple, clean interface, which is accompanied by some quality character rendering. You tap the screen where you need to, and the controls work fine. The models in possession of the briefcases give the monotonous open-and-check a bit of unnecessary (but much appreciated!) lasciviousness. Howie Mandel didn’t license his likeness to I-play for this game, which is great for us, because the male model serving in his stead is certainly more palatable than the show’s real host. Unfortunately, the animation is a bit jerky, and it detracts from the game’s appearance. The music is best turned off, and then you’re left with a couple of one-liners across the bottom of the screen for personality. Playing the game twice through exhausts this trove of commentary.
Don’t get us wrong: we’d love to be on TV to play DoND, that’s for sure. But absent the televised drama and the actual money changing hands, what are you left with? A pretty dull game of odds. DoND offers a few other game modes, mostly ones with the odds stacked in your favor (one has fully half the briefcases holding $1M) to break up the record, but these are merely window dressing.
Sadly, Deal Or No Deal: Million Dollar Mission is neither very interactive or very fun; it has little to no relation to its player, so neither should you have any relation to this game, unless you’re reading this wearing DoND merchandise and taking a break from re-watching old episodes. Others can and should find a better use for their $2.99.