Lately I’ve been on a kick of looking at old DOS game show games. There were a lot of official game show games of the 80s, from the greats like Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune to lesser-known classics like Now You See It, Fun House and Remote Control. But what I was really interested in were the game show games made by hobby programmers.

I remember seeing this in a Micro Star shareware compilation disc. I wonder if I still have it...

I remember seeing this in a Micro Star shareware compilation disc. I wonder if I still have it…

I was looking for Wheel of Fortune clones, but I could only find two. VGAWHEEL (aka EGAWHEEL, I’ve seen both names online) is a no-frills version of Wheel that has probably the prettiest wheel made for DOS. Oh, and it has a cute little theme that plays on the PC speaker. Alas, there isn’t much to say about VGAWHEEL, other than Russell Mueller made a pretty good Wheel clone for DOS.

However, the other one I found is most intriguing: Tommy’s Wheel of Misfortune.

Man, this guy even had a BBS line! I wonder if there were aliens on it.

Man, this guy even had a BBS line! I wonder if there were aliens on it.

Tommy’s Toys was a garage developer who made games “designed by aliens from outer space.” They made a lot of games throughout the ’80s and ’90s. We’re talking about hundreds of them released over ten years.  Tommy’s Toys pretty much disappeared by the time Windows became super popular, and the designer stopped making games to write books. At least that’s what Mobygames says, anyway.

So let’s dive into this alien-made Wheel of Fortune clone, shall we?

You know it's a DOS classic when you see that smiley face in there somewhere.

You know it’s a DOS classic when you see that smiley face in there.

Off the bat, there are a few changes from the classic game show. You can have anywhere from 2-6 players, more than the three from the actual show. The manual states you can play against the computer but I’m not sure how. After that, it’s standard Wheel of Fortune, except with a few twists.

This looks less like Wheel of Fortune and more like Press Your Luck. Thank god there's no Whammies.

This looks less like Wheel of Fortune and more like Press Your Luck. Thank god there’s no Whammies.

You can see that the Wheel is not a fixed pattern. It has the common Bankrupt, Lose a Turn and Free Spin spaces that you’d associate with Wheel of Fortune, but they’re shuffled around the board at random each round, making the wheel more devious at times. Second, you can turn off the used letter board if you want a real challenge. (By default it’s on, because according to Tommy, “MOST PLAYERS CHEAT.”) Third, calling a wrong letter actually loses you money.

That smiley face's no Vanna White, but it'll do.

That smiley face’s no Vanna White, but it’ll do.

Other than that, the game is similar to the Wheel people know and love. There’s several rounds of play, you can turn on the speed round at any time, you can change puzzles if you don’t like the current one, and if you hate Tommy’s deranged sadistic Wheel of Fortune, you can change it to resemble the original TV show by typing in a command in DOS before starting the game.

Quite a tough puzzle for a bonus round...

Quite a tough puzzle for a bonus round…

The only other major difference is the bonus round. Tommy’s Wheel of Misfortune goes by the original bonus round rules of five consonants and one vowel. Turning on Wheel of Fortune mode makes it resemble the current bonus round, where RSTLNE are given for free and you ask for 3 additional consonants and one vowel. The original way makes certain puzzles really difficult unless you go for RSTLNE. If you win, $25,000 in fake dollars is yours.

There are about 1,100 puzzles in the version of Tommy’s Wheel of Misfortune that I have, but if you thought that wasn’t enough puzzles, you could send those aliens $24.95 for an additional 15,000 puzzles based on various subjects like the King James Bible, including a way to create your own puzzles. But wait, there’s more! If you thought Wheel of Misfortune wasn’t crazy enough, you could try Tommy’s Wheel of Confusion!

I don't care what the game says, B-S will always work!

I don’t care what the game says, B-S will always work!

Wheel of Confusion is similar to Wheel of Misfortune, except truly more sadistic. Instead of blank spaces, there are bogus letters in the puzzle. Your goal is to match the fake letter with the real letter, much like a cryptogram. There’s another mode where you choose the letter that’s on the board and guess what letter it really is. This makes it the hardest Wheel of Fortune game around. The first round took me several minutes until I figured out the puzzle, and like hell did I know who Roger Brooke Taney was. These are definitely not puzzles you’d see on the real Wheel of Fortune, that’s for sure.

Seriously, this game is confusing as hell. Hope you love racking your brain!

Seriously, this game is confusing as hell. Hope you love racking your brain over these dumb puzzles!

Tommy’s Wheel of Misfortune and Tommy’s Wheel of Confusion are fascinating little DOS games. Fairly simple, nothing complex, but interesting to see someone’s unique twist on the classic game show, compared to EGAWHEEL which tried to emulate the show without having to pay $30-40 for the official ones GameTek were selling around the same time. If you wanna play these, you can freely do so as they’re abandonware. I won’t link to any abandonware sites to avoid getting in trouble, but if you type Tommy’s Wheel of Misfortune in a Google search you’ll probably find it with ease.

One of these days, I’m gonna tackle more DOS trivia and game show games, because there were a lot of them and some of them were interesting to look at. Like a trivia game by a certain Apogee Software…

Lately I've been on a kick of looking at bootleg game show games. There were a lot of official game show games of the 80s, from the greats like Jeopardy! And Wheel of Fortune to lesser-known greats like Now You See It, Fun House and Remote Control. But what I was really interested in were the knockoffs made by hobby programmers in the day. I was looking for Wheel of Fortune clones, but I only found two. VGAWHEEL (or EGAWHEEL, I've seen both titles) is a no-frills version of Wheel that has probably the prettiest wheel made for DOS. Oh, and it has a decent little tune on the PC speaker that's a nice treat. Alas there isn't much to say about that one, other than Russell Mueller making a pretty good Wheel clone for PC. However, the other one I found is most intriguing: Tommy's Wheel of Misfortune. Tommy's Toys was a garage developer “designed by aliens from outer space” that made a lot of games in the 80s and 90s. We're talking a little over 100 of them released over ten years. At least if Mobygames is any indication. Tommy's Toys pretty much disappeared by the time Windows started taking over DOS, and apparently he writes books now. Thankfully all his games are freely available. So let's dive into this alien-made Wheel of Fortune clone, shall we? First off, you can have anywhere from 2-6 players, more than the three from the actual show. The manual states you can play against the computer but I'm not sure how. After that, it's standard Wheel of Fortune, except with a few twists. You can see that the Wheel is not a fixed pattern, it has the common Bankrupt, Lose a Turn and Free Spin that was common for Wheel circa 1987, but they're shuffled around at random, making the wheel at times more devious. Second, you can turn off the used letter board if you want a real challenge. (By default it's on, because according to Tommy, “MOST PLAYERS CHEAT.”) Third, calling a wrong letter actually loses you money. Other than that, the game is similar to the game show people know and love. There's a few rounds, you can turn on the speed round at any time, you can change puzzles if you don't like the current one, and if you hate Tommy's deranged sadistic Wheel of Fortune, you can change it to resemble the original TV show by typing in a command in DOS before starting the game. The only other major difference is the bonus round. Tommy's Wheel of Misfortune goes by the original bonus round rules of five consonants and one vowel. Turning on Wheel of Fortune mode makes it resemble the current bonus round, where RSTLNE are given for free and you ask for 3 additional consonants and one vowel. The original way makes certain puzzles really difficult unless you go for RSTLNE, and if you win, $25,000 fake dollars is your grand prize. Tommy's Wheel of Misfortune features about 1,100 puzzles in the version I have, but you could send those aliens $24.95 for an additional 15,000 puzzles based on various subjects like the King James Bible. But wait, there's more! If you thought Wheel of Misfortune wasn't crazy enough, you could try Tommy's Wheel of Confusion! Similar to Wheel of Misfortune, except this is truly more sadistic. Instead of blanks, there are bogus letters in the puzzle and you're trying to match the fake letter with the real letter, like a cryptogram. There's another mode where you choose the letter that's on the board and guess what letter it really is. This mode forgoes buying vowels, and it's arguably the hardest Wheel of Fortune game around. The first round took me several minutes until I figured out the puzzle, and like hell did I know who this person was. These are definitely not puzzles you'd see on the real Wheel of Fortune, that's for sure. Tommy's Wheel of Misfortune and Tommy's Wheel of Confusion are fascinating little DOS games. Fairly simple, nothing complex, but interesting to see someone's unique twist on the classic game show, compared to EGAWHEEL which tried to emulate the show without having to pay $30-40 for the official ones GameTek were selling around the same time.  One of these days, I'm gonna tackle more DOS trivia and game show games, because there were a lot of them and they're interesting to look at. Like Trek Trivia by a certain Apogee Software... Hey, how come Interceptor Entertainment has forgotten about this? I want an Apogee collection with this kind of stuff!

Hey, how come Interceptor Entertainment has forgotten about this? I want an Apogee collection with this kind of stuff!

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