By all accounts, making a game based on NBC's hit game show Deal or No Deal should be the most idiot-proof concept in the world. The premise is pathetically simple: You are presented with 26 briefcases, each of which contains one of 26 different dollar amounts in random order. You pick a case for yourself and then start eliminating other cases to try to narrow down what amount you've picked out for yourself. All the while, you also entertain offers from a mysterious banker who tries to buy you out before you can find out how much your case contains. All that babble aside, it's basically a game that boils down to randomly picking numbers and hoping for the best. It might not make for an especially interesting video game (it certainly didn't in the PC version released earlier this year), but if the template is followed correctly, it should be, if nothing else, functional. However, Deal or No Deal for the DS somehow manages to screw it up, turning in a completely broken translation of the game.
How do you break Deal or No Deal? It's quite simple, really: just fail to randomize the dollar amounts. Instead of distributing the dollar amounts randomly at the start of each game, the game only uses a series of predetermined templates. This means that you will get specific distributions of amounts multiple times as you continue to play through the game. If you happen upon one you've already played and happen to remember where stuff was, you can pretty much get the best deal every single time.
By being entirely busted and retailing for a full $30, Deal or No Deal for the DS wins the award for evilest retail product of the year so far.
It gets worse. Every time you boot up the game, the same pattern loads. This means that no matter what, every single time you start the game up, you'll be forced to play through a game you've already memorized. Want the million bucks? Pick case 13. After you play that first game, you will get a random selection from the predetermined patterns. So basically, the developers had the forethought to randomize the predetermined patterns (minus the first game that boots up every time), but not the numbers themselves? Conceptually, the game is pointless enough, given that it is purely based on picking random numbers and lacks any manner of skill-based gameplay. Removing the random factor from the proceedings puts the game in the rankings for hell's most tedious and pointless possible punishment; somewhere between having to push a rock up the same hill for eternity and finding a specific piece of hay in the world's largest haystack.
One could prattle on about how there are some lame bonus games to play, like a high-low game where you have to guess if the amount in an upcoming case will be higher or lower than the one currently displayed. There's also a multiplayer mode where two players can either compete to try to get the best deal or one player can play the banker and try to make offers to push the other player out of the game (which is perhaps even more pointless than the broken standard game). There are the cheesy voice samples from Howie Mandel and the crowd, which are periodically broken, exclaiming disappointment when you remove a low number from the board. Then there are the crummy, pixelated graphics that make Mandel look like some kind of dwarf mutant and do not give the various stage models faces of any kind. But these complaints are completely irrelevant given the fact that the primary game is broken beyond repair. It's a game about picking random numbers, but the numbers aren't random. It's hard to screw up much worse than that.