The Price Is Right!!!

- wadE

Is there any question that The Price Is Right is the best game show of all time? As much as I loved Press Your Luck, it really doesn't get any better than TPIR. What other game show could hold your attention for a solid hour, and still be on the air after 30 years?

It's sad to think that we are in our last season of TPIR. Is it remotely possible that a new host could continue the show? After all, the Bob Barker version isn't the original either. But what is it that makes the show so great?

Bob's smiling charm... Rod Roddy's (RIP) obnoxious outfits... Barker's Beauties... stupid people bidding $2000 for an electric mixer... Bob's skinny microphone? Nah, it's the pricing games!!!

Research tells me there have been more than 90 pricing games that have been used over the years, after seeing some new ones over the Thanksgiving holiday, that number may be over 100.

Here's a great site that lists 95 pricing games, with pictures!

There are two major components to nearly every game. Some sort of movement. Whether it's rolling dice, a figure scaling a mountain, or a contesting running around; the best games have motion. The other component is advice from the crowd. The more open ended the choices are, the more you're going to have the crowd try and "help". There's nothing quite as funny as the camera shots of the crowd where the contestant's friends or family are trying to communicate the answer amongst a studio filled with a couple hundred screaming people.

Some of them are fairly new... some have been around since the beginning... but which ones are the best?

To be the best a game has to have some mileage on it...stood up to the test of time as it were. However, it's possible for newer game to come along and become an instant favorite.

Out of 95, let's try to whittle down the list and look at the serious contenders.

10 Chances
For some reason I really love the games with these giant contraptions. 10 Chances is one of those games. You?re playing for 3 prizes and have to unscramble the numbers to get the right price. You get 10 chances to do it correctly for all 3 prizes, starting with the least expensive (3 digits). Get that right, then move on to the next (4 digits), etc. I just love the moving boards and the giant buttons. Also, there is nothing better than a flustered contestant who enters in the same wrong price twice on one prize. Bob loves to point out how stupid they are when they do that.

3 Strikes
Guessing the digits in the price of a car wouldn't normally be all that fun, but put those numbers on little discs, along with the three Xs, and mix them up in a sack, and draw? That's gold Jerry! Gold!

Any Number
Another game of guessing digits, but the hook on this one if the cute little piggy bank. Why is it so fun to watch a person accidentally win a couch instead of a car, or even worse, win less then 10 bucks in the piggy bank? I don't know, but this game is a staple of TPIR...probably because there is a good chance that the produces will only have to pay out $7.84!

Card Game
For some reason I just absolutely love this game growing up. I don't know if it was the giant cards or the felt table, but it was always one of my favorites. You gotta love any game where it's played for a car and it's more than random luck.

Cliff Hangers
Who doesn't love this game? Sure, it's not played for a car, but the drama!!! What!?! You bid 75 dollars on a deep fryer?!? Will our mountain climber survive!?!? Yo-dee-oh-dee-oh-dee-oh-dee-oh-dee-ohhh Oh-dee-oh-dee-oh Oh-dee-oh-dee-oh...Bing! Whew!

Clock Game
Was there any worse looking game in the mid-80s than the Clock Game? Oy, that was one ugly, but fun game. I used to play along at home with my mom. I'd look away from the TV and try to guess the price, and she'd yell higher or lower. Oddly enough, I won more often than the contestants.

Dice Game
There is just a natural affinity for these Vegas-esque games. They've had several different games with cards, Punch Board is kind of like Keno. I'm surprised they didn't come up with a roulette pricing game...although you could argue that the Big Wheel qualifies. At any rate, when you are 5 years old, there isn't anything cooler than a giant plexiglass table with huge oversized dice. Just think of how fun Yahtzee would be with those!!!

Golden Road
Unless you've seen Golden Road, it's hard to describe. The games take the contestant around the entire stage, and the final prize is always something big (like an expensive car). This game was always fun to see.

Grand Game
When I saw this one listed on the web page, I thought, what the hell game is that? Ahhh, is the one with the sign that starts at a dollar and slides over to be ten bucks then again for a hundred, yadda yadda yadda, you can win ten grand. While it's cool to see someone win ten grand, it's also the best place to see what new tasty products are on your grocers? shelves!

Grocery Game
Grocery Knowledge will get your far in most games, but is vital in this one. The best part of the game is the old school cash register. How many people under 25 have ever even seen a cash register that wasn't digital?

Hole in One
A serious contender for the best game ever! I still don't think they should have changed it to be "Hole in One...or Two", but not everyone has played enough mini-golf in their lives to have a decent chance..especially where there is a car on the line!!!

Not everyone will remember this game, but it had a sweet board, and it involved firearms! What more can you ask for?

Lucky $even
Another one of my personal favorites. Basically if you can guess the first couple of numbers relatively close, you're home free. And remember, you need one dollar left in your hand to buy that car!

Money Game
Kind of a dumb game, but for some reason I really like the board. Maybe it was just that cheesy silhouette of the front and back end of a car. I like the boat and truck pics that are shown too!

Penny Ante
When I was 5 years old I went to PM kindergarten and therefore spent each morning in front of the TV. At that age, there was nothing...NOTHING...cooler than this crazy contraption. It was like some sort of space age carnival midway game. Buttons... running lights... crazy "do-loo-loo-loo-loo-loo" sounds... spring loaded price tags... it was fantastic. Looking back now it seems like a pretty boring game, but when you're 5, you just want to see some cool shit make noise and light up on TV.

This one is most everyone's favorite. The drama and excitement of those Plinko chips bouncing and falling down the board toward a possible 5,000 bucks is overwhelming. And there's a certain charm to having Bob occasionally having to get his Plinko Stick out...if you know what I mean.

Punch Board---
Completely silly and random game. Go punch out some paper numbers, see how much money is inside. Obviously the fun is watching contestants debating whether to pass up $500 and go for bigger money.

Race Game
Best...Game...Ever! What's more fun than watching contestants run around the stage with oversized price tags in their hand, trying to match them up to the prizes... Bob doing the play by play... only to have them run back to the giant slot machine looking think, pull the level and have a giant neon 0 show up? Nothing.

Range Game
Another game I loved as a kid because I thought the contraption (and really, aren't all of these things really contraptions?) was cool. Why don't more things in life come with giant oversized buttons? Wouldn't that be a great marketing gimmick?

Safe Crackers
Although the game itself was kind of boring, you had to love the giant safe door.

Super Ball
How could you not love this game. Play Skee-Ball for prizes. I'm not very good at Skee-Ball, so I hoped if I was ever on TPIR I would never get stuck playing this game.

For some reason I always thought the Switcheroo board was so cool. Maybe I have some sort of giant cube fetish or something.

Ok, down to 22 out of 95 games.

But before we get to my favorites, let's take a look at the flip side, the horrible games. There are some boring games like One Right Price, Most Expensive, or 5 Price Tags (although I do love the set for that one); but let's take a quick look at some of the truly bad games, some you've probably never seen.

Add 'em Up
People are just dumb. I remember this game, but the writer of the website is right, people just couldn't figure it out. Did the producers really think that the average TPIR contestant was ready for that much math?

"Bullseye I"
I wasn't old enough to see this game, but it sounds horrible. Seven guesses to get the exact price of a car right... good luck!!!

Double Prices
This one is so boring, it qualifies are horrible. You come all the way to Burbank, get called down to Contestant's Row, win to get on stage, only to guess between two prices for a crappy bedroom set? Ick!

It's Optional
I vaguely remember It's Optional. However, it sounds absolutely awful.

Magic Number
A variation of the Range Game, but with none of the panache.

On The Spot
...What?... This game looks exceedingly stupid...

Professor Price
Never saw this one either, but I guess this was their attempt to be like other game shows by asking general knowledge questions. Is it just me, or is that picture of Professor Price just kind of creepy?

Shell Game
A lot of people really like this game... but c'mon. As Bob's gotten older, he doesn't mix up those shells like he used to. You had to be really really dumb to lose this game.

Split Decision
I remember this game...and yes, it was terrible.

And finally...

"Two Player Bullseye I"
I never saw this one either, but it seems like it didn't last long. In their defense, this was the first season, and they were still working out the kinks.

Wow, those were pretty bad... but now on to my favorites.

wadE's Favorite TPIR Pricing Games

Number 5: Dice Game
Seriously, how can you not love oversized dice?

Number 4: Cliffhangers
Great far will he climb?!

Number 3: Plinko
Aren't those chips bouncing down the board the most hypnotic thing ever!

Number 2: Hole in One
Nothing like it when Bob sinks an inspiration putt from 25 feet away!

Number 1: Race Game
Narrowly beating out Hole in One, but there isn't anything quite as fun as an overweight housewife running around on stage frantically swapping price tags.

While it's still possible that Bob will come back for a 34th season, more than likely this is the end of the road for The Price Is Right, so take some time this holiday season while you're home on vacation and watch an episode or two!

Also, check out Wade's favorite pricing games.

- 12/14/2004

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