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Genre: Puzzle & Trivia
Min OS X: 10.2    CPU: Any CPU @ 500 MHz    RAM: 128 MB

Pat Sajak's Lucky Letters
August 22, 2007 | Kirk Hiner

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Here's the thing; when I offered to review Pat Sajak's Lucky Letters, I really didn't think Pat Sajak would be in the game. Or, I thought it'd be a different Pat Sajak...some barber somewhere who's spent the majority of his life playing up the fact that he shares his name with the host of Wheel of Fortune. Maybe he makes his customers spin a wheel to see if they get a discount on their haircut or a trip to Fiji.

But no, this is Pat Sajak. The guy you know from the show. The one who wasn't part of the actual Wheel of Fortune game published by MacSoft a few years back. Weird? It gets weirder. Ends up, Pat is becoming the Tom Clancy of word games. He has his own gaming website, And it's currently advertising Hostel Part II. This is all well outside my comfort zone, but the game is not, so I'll stick with that.

Game Play
Okay, obviously, this is a word game. It can accurately be described as a combination of Wheel of Fortune and your typical crossword puzzle. The game opens with a screen full of white circles connected in random patterns. Each of these contains a letter, hidden from view. As with Wheel of Fortune, your first task is to select some popular letters that tend to appear in many words. Select well, and the screen will fill up as each letter you picked is revealed. Select poorly, and your game will be that much tougher.

After this, the action begins. It suddenly feels like a Vegas casino game, as you spin the slots to see your point value for the clue. You're then presented with a clue for a particular word on the board; something like "Salsa Specification." You're told how many letters the word is, and any letters that have already been revealed will appear in your word. Beneath this, you're given a list of letters that may be in the word, and you have to put it together. The more letters you have to guess, the more letters from which you have to choose. For "Salsa Specification," my word was four letters long, and the opening letter, M, was already revealed. Simple enough. "Mild." They're not all that easy, though, and they're not all vocabulary related. For instance, once clue I had gave me the first name of an Oscar winner (Wendy), and wanted me to guess her last name.

If you don't know the word, you can change the clue. If you don't know the next one, you're out of luck. You have to guess on one or the other, and if you miss a letter, you're forced to move on to the next clue. You get a total of ten in an attempt to fill up as many spaces as possible. It's then on to the lighting round.

Lightning rounds, apparently, are to word games what sniper rifles are to online multiplayer first person shooters.

And actually, before I get to the lighting round, there's the Lucky Chance bonus to discuss. Here, you're given one clue, one word, and a few letters. It's kind of luck Double Jeopardy, except you're given the clue before you wager. Know it, and you can double your money. Don't know it, and you can pass. Not sure, you can try something in between. It's therefore very safe, but since it serves only to raise your cash, it's not important to completing your puzzle.

Now, the lighting round. Here, you're given clues in quick succession with a strict time limit. The more spaces you filled during the first round, the easier this will be. If you don't know a clue, you can pass to the next one. The clue you passed will come around again, but it's possible you'll have more letters in place by then, making the clue easier to solve.

Beat the clock, you win. Don't, you lose. If you win five games in a row, you get to compete in the championship round where the clues get really tough. If not, start over and try again, working to jack up your cash winnings along the way.


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