Game shows are a fixture of life for many people. Even if you're not the sort of person who watches them every day, odds are that you've sat through at least one episode of "Jeopardy" or "The Price is Right" in your life, even if you were just sick at home with the flu. There's something deeply engrossing about these shows; it may be the rags-to-riches element, it may be the fun of challenging your own knowledge against the contestant's, or it may simply be for those moments when a winning streak is broken. Either way, game shows are undeniably addictive, and yet oddly, severely underrepresented in modern gaming. Despite everything that our current electronics are capable of doing, most games tend to be little more than licensed collections of trivia. Microsoft's newest addition to the Xbox Live Experience, 1 vs. 100 Live, may be the first video game to actually be a game show.
When I say that 1 vs. 100 Live is a game show, I don't mean this in the concept of it being a video game based on a game show. It is an actual game show that airs at scheduled times every week and has a live host and actual contestants. The two-hour show will air weekly and be hosted by Chris Cashman, who will make live commentary on the proceedings. It even has the occasional commercial break! The only difference is that instead of watching average people play, you're following along with real players, such as DeathKilla and Narutofan21, and their Xbox Live avatars. The end result is something that is ridiculously addictive and amazingly fun, and it's quite possibly one of the most entertaining things to ever hit Xbox Live.
For those unfamiliar with it, "1 vs. 100" is a trivia-based game show that's actually quite similar to "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" but with a twist. The basic concept of the show is that two sides take turns answering trivia questions, and the winner is the one who outlasts the other side. The Xbox Live version of the game has trivia that seems to focus mostly on current events, ranging from upcoming movies to recent video game releases. Since these questions are being rewritten each week, you can expect a lot of up-to-date trivia about current events. However, as one could guess from the title, 1 vs. 100 is not exactly an equal game. Instead, one side, known as The One, is made up of a single contestant, while the opposing side, known as The Mob, is made up of 100. While this may sound unfair, the way the game is designed means that it is actually a surprisingly balanced and tense experience.
The One is, of course, all by his or her lonesome. The goal is to answer as many questions as possible in order to survive against The Mob. There are three potential outcomes for The One: win, lose or take the money. Winning is done by simply outlasting all 100 members of The Mob without answering a question incorrectly. Answer a question wrong, and The One's game is over. However, if The One manages to eliminate 40 members of The Mob, he or she can choose to take the money already earned and end the game. The One's earnings increase for every 10 members of The Mob that he or she eliminates. The more your take out, the more you win, but if you get greedy, you may find yourself with nothing at all. Since The One is at such a drastic handicap, he or she also gets three "lifelines" that can be used at any time: Trust the Mob, Trust the Crowd or Trust the Brain. Trust the Mob automatically selects the same answer that the majority of the Mob chose. Trust the Crowd chooses the answer that the crowd chose. Trust the Brain chooses the same answer as the highest-scoring member of the crowd in this particular game. None of these lifelines are necessarily going to give you the correct answer, but they're a step up from random guessing.
The Mob is, of course, a mob. There are 100 members on the team, and each one is a unique player. They have to answer the same questions as The One, but get none of his or her benefits. If a member of The Mob gets the question wrong, he is out of the game. Despite the fact that The Mob is on the same team, every player is also competing against one another. The Mob's prize is determined by the number of mob members left over at the end. The fewer left, the greater the prize. The top-scoring members of The Mob even get a special bonus prize. There's no real way to work against the other members of The Mob, but this is a game where you can be glad when one of your teammates flubs a question.
The final group involves everyone watching the show who isn't a member of The Mob or The One. They are the aforementioned crowd. Like The Mob and The One, the crowd also tries to answer the questions. However, the prizes at stake here are significantly lower. Answering a question earns you points, and the faster you answer the question, the more points you get, with special multipliers being added if you've correctly answered multiple questions in a row, or if that particular question knocks a lot of members out of The Mob. The top three scores in The Crowd will earn a small prize.
When I mentioned "prizes" above, I was referring to real prizes. As I said before, 1 vs. 100 is an actual game show, and that means you win actual prizes for playing. The One has a chance to win up to 10,000 Microsoft points for defeating the Mob, with the exact amount of points depending on how many members of the Mob he or she took out before taking the money. Members of The Mob have a chance to win a Microsoft Live Arcade title and Microsoft points. Even members of the crowd have a chance to win a free Microsoft Live Arcade title, which is a fairly good reason to tune in and watch, even if you don't end up chosen as The One or a member of The Mob.
There are actually two kinds of 1 vs. 100 shows that will air on Xbox Live. What I've described above is "1 vs. 100 Live," where contestants face off against The One or The Mob, complete with a live host. Other times during the week, there will be a brief half-hour show called "1 vs. 100 Extended Play," which is a more casual game. In Extended Play, everyone plays as The Mob. Every time a question is answered, the game registers how many members of The Mob were knocked out and awards points to the survivors. You don't actually get knocked out of the game, and players continue until the half-hour show is over. Unlike the live show, you're not competing for prizes in Extended Play. It's mostly for fun, although there are benefits. Doing well in Extended Play increases the chance that you'll be chosen for The One or The Mob during the show's live episodes. Furthermore, answering questions earns you entries into a special sweepstakes where you can earn awesome prizes.
It almost feels weird trying to discuss 1 vs. 100 Live as a video game, since it is more of an actual game show. Sure, you're playing it on your Xbox 360 instead of watching it on your TV, but that is really the only difference between the two. It easily captures the simple pleasure of watching "The Price is Right" or "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?", and the biggest difference is that the viewers have a way to interact with the proceedings. Watching a game show can be fun, but watching a game show where you, the viewer, actually get to compete for prizes, even if it isn't the big money, is absolutely enthralling. Even if you're not trying to get prizes, testing your own knowledge and trying to earn a high score can already be an addictive practice. Barring any unforeseen technical problems, Microsoft has a potential smash hit on their hands here, and anyone with an Xbox Live Gold account should at very least give 1 vs. 100 a shot when it starts "airing" sometime later this year.
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