Overall Rating: 1/5 Stars
Among all the dreadful movie licenses and cartoon television show license video games that were released on the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System, tossed among them were some other licensee titles, such as for a toy or even a game show. This is the case for Family Feud, a cartridge based on the popular game show, published by GameTek in 1991 with development programming done by Beam Software, who had their fair share of both hits and misses.
To its credit, the video game iteration of Family Feud does follow the game show format fairly well. Basically, you play as a family of five against another family of five (either the computer or a second player) in a game of trivia. Each round consists of a survey topic revealed, along with 5-10 answers that are hidden that are attempted to be guessed. For example, the survey may be “Specific occasions for which family comes to visit,” with seven answers. For each survey, 100 people were polled, and the answers given correspond with the amount of people/points/dollar amounts. For instance, if you guess “Christmas” for the aforementioned survey, it is the most popular response, revealed to be worth 32. There are then six other answers, each worth descending amounts depending on their popularity.
To begin the first and second rounds (the second round being worth double points), when the topic is revealed, you try and hit the buzzer (A button) quicker than your opponent, then try a sample answer. If the answer is on the board, play continues; if not, the opposing family gets to play. Eventually the family members gets to try their guesses until either all the members have attempted or every answer on the board is revealed. The third round is a speed-guessing round, in which you try to answer five questions (each relating to a survey of polled answers) in a limited amount of time. Whichever family ends up with the most money/points wins, and you can continue to play against another family if you would like. Answers are input via moving a cursor around a letter field that includes options to remove an entered letter or enter the sequence submitted.
This game looks terrible. The artists must have never heard of the technique (or real-life example) called “shading,” because there is very little (it is actually somewhat bizarre that any exists at all; there in one portion of the game screen that uses some, and that is it) throughout the game, as the backgrounds are rendered in horrid one-color blobs of expansive terrible palette color choices The family-member characters look utterly absurdly ugly and crude, barely recognizable as human beings, and the entire experience feels like a drug-induced nightmare. The title screen is okay, but not great by any measure. The visuals of the NES Family Feud video game thoroughly suck.
The soundtrack is terrible. At first, the background track of the title screen does not sound that horrible. Slightly poorly rendered, perhaps, but not horrendous. Then the player realizes that this is the only music in the game, yet most of the game is silent, and the sound effects are not good enough to make up for it. The “buzz” for the buzzer is alright, and perhaps appropriately annoying when you guess an answer that is not among the survey results.
Family Feud on the NES cannot be that original, considering it is definitely based on popular preexisting subject matter. That being said, it could be supposed that there were not exactly hundreds of game show-based video games, so it may stand to hold an innovation or two. Then again, probably not, and the only gaming mechanic advancement this title represents may be the poorly implemented and often confusing letter entry screen, which is inferior to many password systems for even the early NES library.
Even if the presentation were better, Family Feud would still be a bland, boring, slow-moving video game. The only positive aspects at work is that it is a little more fun when playing with a friend, and every once in a while you derive a fun feeling of “Oh yeah! How could I forget?” when an insightful survey answer is revealed. But for every moment of insight, there are three moments of confusion and frustration at the bizarre answers, the glaring omissions (how is “leather” not among the top six answers for types of jacket?!), the seemingly arbitrary decisions by the game over which answers to accept and which not to (“wedding” is an acceptable synonym for “marriage,” but other time if you use two words that include the correct term, you will be deemed wrong, as opposed to using the right word alone), and other puzzling design choices, resulting in a feud-worthy one star out of five rating.
For a look at other NES titles, refer to NintendoLegend.com.