Millionaire' Parody Unveiled


Monday, August 21st 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6


Move over Death and Taxes, there's a third certainty: Regis Philbin and ``Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.''

Reminders of the thrice-weekly TV game show seem to be everywhere, and its catch-phrase, ``Is that your final answer?'' has infected the language like a virus.

But if you have a moderate-power PC and a sense of parody, you can find relief in ``Who Wants to Beat Up a Millionaire'' from Simon & Schuster Interactive.

The game deals more than 750 trivia questions to up to five players. In the multiplayer game, the object is to be the last one standing. In the single-player version, the goal is to knock out a millionaire with keyboard ``punches'' before giving an incorrect answer.

That's violence, of course, but it's cartoonish. There's also a humor level that earns the software its Teen rating from the Entertainment Software Rating Board. Log in as a single player, for example, and host Egregious Phillin observes, ``You might want to look into a different mouthwash.''

Some of the trivia answers aren't easy. Few players could identify ``rotted fish guts'' as the major ingredient in the Roman condiment garum. (Made from fermented anchovy intestines and salt, the condiment was so popular that factories were devoted entirely to its production.)

In the multiplayer version, players assume the identity of one of five tycoons, each of whom is a parody or stereotype. An example is the 22-year-old widow who inherited her millions from her 102-year-old husband. (True love, no doubt.)

The game provides plenty of laughs and, assuming teen-agers can be forced to associate with their parents, is a good family game.

Installation was simple and there is an uninstall program, which earn points for the company, as does the $19.95 price. But 10 demerits for no Mac version, although the company says a Sega version is planned for fall release.

System requirements are modest: a 133-megahertz Pentium or faster, 16 megabytes of RAM, 90 megabytes of free hard disk space, and Windows 95 or higher.

Simon & Schuster Interactive is widely available at retail. The Web site is http://www.simonsays.com.

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Questions and comments are welcome. Mail to Larry Blasko, AP, 50 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10020-1666. Or e-mail through the Internet to lblasko(at)ap.org.