When Nintendo first revealed details of its remote for the Wii, then dubbed "Revolution," focus fell on the idea of gaming with what essentially looked like a TV remote. Now, services like Yahoo TV Widgets have turned actual TV remotes into gaming devices. Funspot, which releases casual games for interactive TVs, has three games released for the platform so far that range from somewhat enjoyable to somewhat terrible.
All three games, Sudoku, QuizzMaster, and Texas Hold 'Em, are available on Samsung and LG sets with Yahoo TV Widgets. Like some other widgets we've tested, all three strain the definition of "widget" as they open up full-screen. This really limits the utility of these games. None of them are particularly good on their own, but could have been if they were playable in a window as a way to pass the time during commercials. If you're going to go through the often slow process of launching a game and have to play it in full-screen, you're ultimately better off with a real gaming console.
The most solid of all the games, the Sudoku widget is exactly what you would expect. The controls are responsive and intuitive. You control which box you want to select with the control pad, enter numbers with the number pad, and clear a box with the OK or enter button.
Holding down one of the directional buttons causes you to move toward boxes faster, which somewhat makes up for the lack of board wrapping. The game is level-based and increases slightly in difficulty as you go along, with hints available for the first three levels. You can pick up on whatever level you left off with level codes, but you can't save your progress mid-game. If you can get past some minor issues and the kitsch background, the Sudoku widget is a pleasant time-waster.
The pixelated, leather-chair splash image and odd misspelling of the word "quiz" set the tone early. The trivia game is comprised of 10 rounds and supports up to four players via pass around the remote for each person's turn. Each question has four possible answers.
Like many other similar games, the quicker you answer, the more points you get. The questions focus heavily on geography and history and are not in any sort of difficulty order. Some of them are painfully obvious, like the name of the first president or Nintendo's Italian plumber. But then there are some questions that are just painful, like "What's the weight of a tennis ball?" (2.7 grams in case you were wondering). While by no means terrible, the boring interface and frustrating questions create an uneven experience that's better served up by a time-tested, classic board game like Trivial Pursuit.
Texas Hold 'Em
To cut right to the chase: this is a pretty poor card game and its best asset is its embarrassingly terrible character selection. You can choose from a number of stereotypical and sloppily illustrated characters like Sexy Sonya, Sneaky Sven, Dandy Doug, and, our favorite, Gold Digger Granny.
The computer chooses four opponents, with no support for multiplayer and no apparent difference in the AI of each character. Once the game starts, all the buttons and indicators you need to play are there, but they're just so small or awkwardly placed that it's hard to keep up. The lack of any sort of animations only compounds this issue. The AI barely adapts to the situation and is often overly cautious and incredibly easy to bully to the point that there's barely any challenge involved. After you win, you're crowned a "Poker Master," but don't expect this to unlock a higher difficulty level or anything else that would actually make this worth playing.