Retro Respawn – Family Feud

During the first lockdown back in 2020, I found myself pretty isolated due to the fact that I live a good hour’s drive away from my best friends and family, meaning that when everyone had to stay indoors except for exercise and shopping for essentials, human interaction got pretty much demolished until the UK government finally introduced Support Bubbles. One thing that really helped me preserve my sanity during this misery of lockdown was when I discovered videos of Family Feud on YouTube. We have the show over here as “Family Fortunes”, but it’s a generally more sedate experience than the American version, which completes with Steve Harvey losing his mind at some of the genuinely baffling answers. I instantly became hooked, and for want of anything else to write about this week, I decided to take a look at the Family Feud game on the fourth gen home consoles.

Backstory

Family Feud is a well-known and popular game show format that sees two families compete with one another in order to win a sizeable cash prize. As already mentioned, we’ve had the show over here in the UK as Family Fortunes, and when I was growing up, it was hosted by Les Dennis, whose notable catchphrase when someone gave a stupid answer was, “If it’s up there, then I’ll give you the money meself!”.

For those who aren’t au-fait with the show’s format, the way it works is that 100 people are surveyed to give an answer, and then the assorted family members have to guess what those answers are. For instance, a standard question would be “Name a Dinosaur”, and if 23 of the 100 people said “Stegosaurus”, then giving that as an answer would net you 23 points. Ultimately, the goal is to guess all of the answers given in the survey, and if the family can’t manage that, then it is passed over to the opposing family who can then steal the pot with a correct answer of their own.

There have been quite a few releases of Family Feud over the years, with versions spanning from the Nintendo Entertainment System all the way up to the Nintendo Switch. The Super Nintendo and SEGA Mega Drive versions of the game were released in May 1991, in America only. This does mean that, yes, I emulated these games because the game didn’t have an official release over in the PAL region. I’m kind of surprised they didn’t bother, to be honest, as you have to think that it wouldn’t have been too hard to do a port for that market, and I certainly would have been interested in getting it for my SNES back in the day.

During the time it was released, Family Feud was hosted by Ray Coombs, a guy I’ve only heard of because he made a guest appearance at WWF WrestleMania VIII, where he made fun of The Mountie, Nasty Boys and Repo Man, causing them to get angry and chase him off. Seeing as Coombs was hosting the show at the time, Family Feud for both the SNES and Mega Drive uses the set and layout that was seen in Coombs’s version of the show, complete with a Coombs lookalike handling the hosting duties. He’s never mentioned by name, so I’m guessing they didn’t go to the trouble of officially licensing his name or image.

Gameplay

Family Feud plays exactly the same on the SNES and Mega Drive, with both having a one-player and two-player option. The Coombs-alike host will read out a question, and you will need to press a button before your opponent in order to get to answer first. You then have 45 seconds to type in your answer, but you can choose to turn the timer off, if you wish, which is handy for those who aren’t as quick to type. Should you be lucky enough to amass enough points/money to win, then you will be able to move on to the “Fast Money” round, where you will need to answer 5 questions in quick succession.

That’s pretty much it as far as Family Feud goes when it comes to gameplay. It’s a straightforward recreation of the show but in video game form, and I must give the game credit by saying that I was never asked the same question more than once, and I played through quite a few times both on the SNES and Mega Drive versions of the game, which is pretty impressive. It definitely seems like they crammed as many questions as they could onto the cart, which is nice to see.

The only real criticism I could throw the way of Family Feud is that sometimes it can be a bit overly finicky when it comes to answers. For example, one of the questions was, “What would you do to keep yourself from getting bored on a long flight”, so I gave the answer of “Book”. The game didn’t like that, so I decided to simplify it by writing “Read” instead, but the game didn’t like that either. Eventually, I failed to clear the board and waited for the answers to be revealed, at which point the last answer on the board was “Read Book”, so even though I got the answer right, I didn’t word it close enough to the game’s liking for it to count.

You could argue that it was my own fault for not being detailed enough in my answer, but one of the answers was just “Movie” and not “Watch a Movie”, so the game is just finicky when it can be bothered to do so, which leads to a sometimes inconsistent experience. There were also certain sections where my Englishness made things a tad more difficult as American’s don’t tend to give the same answers we do. For instance, chips or fries are a regular accoutrement to steak over here in the UK, but this is clearly something the Yanks haven’t discovered yet. Seriously, people, try it sometime, it’s awesome!

Graphics and Sound

I’ve combined these two because there isn’t a lot to talk about regarding each section individually. I should stress right from the off that I like the Mega Drive as a console, but the version of Family Feud on SEGA’s machine is considerably worse when it comes to this category in comparison to the SNES cut of the game. Graphically, everything just looks more washed out on the Mega Drive, and the sound is not good, to say the least. Again, I know that some like to choose to die on the “Mega Drive sound system is really good” hill, and indeed some games on the console did have some good banging tunes, but when put up against the SNES version, the general audio on the Mega Drive version of Family Feud is positively arse-awful.

The game doesn’t look terrible on the Mega Drive, but the SNES version is brighter and more colourful, being just generally easier on the eyes. Family Feud isn’t a game that really challenges either console when it comes to visuals, but I personally prefer the aesthetic found on the SNES version. Ultimately, it looks like Family Feud, which is what you want for a game about Family Feud, so it achieves its goal. The famous theme tune can be found in all its 16 bit SNES glory, and if you’re a fan of the show, that will probably give you a kick. There are a few verbal soundbites and some music that plays when writing your answer that you can turn off, if you want, and that’s your lot. Family Feud really just needs to recreate the gameplay and “feel” of the show, and the game manages that, for the most part.

Longevity

As previously mentioned, I put a decent chunk of time into Family Feud and didn’t get asked the same question more than once, so that bodes well for the game. If you have friends to play with, then you can get quite a lot of fun in two-player mode, and you can even play it just like the real show if you have enough people to pass the controller to. At the end of the day, if you like Family Feud, then you’ll likely get some good use out of this, especially in party situations. If you don’t like the show or are ambivalent towards it, then you might get pretty bored after a certain stage.

Would I Recommend It?

I liked it enough to recommend the SNES version, yeah, mainly because I like the show, and I personally found the SNES version to be the superior port of the game. If Family Feud as a concept isn’t your thing, then you probably won’t be too bothered missing out here, but if you do like it, then this will likely satiate your hunger. That being said, it’s on the eighth gen consoles too, so you may as well have a look at them first before faffing around with a game from way back in the fourth gen.

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