Monday, April 11, 2011

You Have a Minute to Win It!

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

Since I decided to stop watching Minute to Win It, I thought that featuring it in my Game Shows series might help to better explain the changes that the show has undergone, making it no longer interesting for me. The show is still pretty popular, and new games are showing up all the time, so if you're new to the competition, this should also give you a bit of background.

Brief history: Minute to Win It is fairly new, only just over a year old. Guy Fieri hosts, and the game has become pretty popular... versions of a board game, a card game, a Wii game, and even a DS game are available. Versions of the game are seen in Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Colombia, Germany, India, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Peru, Romania, Sweden, and very recently Finland (there are probably other countries as well). To date, nobody has won $1,000,000... though there have been two groups that won the $500,000 (one before that was a "bankable" spot... so they walked away without playing for the million).

The game: Contestants play a series of 60-second games, trying to get to and beat the 10th game without losing 3 times. If you fail to beat a certain game, you can try again, as long as you do not lose a total of 3 times. The games vary widely, but are always physical challenges of some sort. For each level that you complete, you earn a certain amount of money. Before being shown the "blueprint" for the next game, you can choose to walk away with the amount earned so far, or keep playing for more. When you lose your third game, you go home with a "banked" amount, which happens after the first game ($1,000), the fifth game ($50,000), and the final few games ($250,000 at level 8; $500,000 at level 9). If a team is playing instead of a single person, each player may only try 3 games in a row, after that the other player must give it a shot. Additionally, some games require both players to participate, either simultaneously or one after the other. When the show originated, there were a finite number of games that could be assigned to you... now more than 120 games have been featured on the show - making it more and more difficult for those at home to try to practice every game. The official website does a nice job of summarizing the challenges for each episode (and includes blueprints for the games seen up until now). And, in case you were wondering, there is only one Level 10 challenge that we've seen. It's called "Supercoin" and it really a souped-up version of Quarters. Contestants must bounce quarters off a table, trying to get them to go into a 5-gallon jug (with a mouth of just 1.75 inches) that's 15 feet away.

Notable changes to the way the game is played: When the game first debuted, the only "bank" was $50,000... otherwise there were no guarantees. The $1,000 and $250,000 banks were added within the first season, but the $500,000 bank didn't come into play until after the second season began. During the Christmas episodes, there were 12 possible games (for "The 12 Days of Christmas"), with the final two being worth $2M and $3M, respectively. In my opinion, this is when the show began to jump the shark, since they also initiated the "holiday bonus" which was a prize that the contestant/team would get for completing certain games. It is usually an extra life or an extra 10 seconds (which could either add ten second to give you more time to complete a task, or take away ten seconds if it's a task where you have to do something for a full minute). It could also be a real prize, but that only appears in the holiday episodes, whereas the other bonuses continue showing up in regular episodes (now called "blueprint bonuses"). Another new addition are "head-to-head competitions," where two individuals or pairs would start the game, competing against one another rather than a clock. The first person or team to win three games sent the other one packing, and they were then able to continue toward the million.

Special contestants: When celebrities play for charities, there is no reason not to keep going, as they will win the amount equivalent to the last level they make it to - every level is a "bank," per se. Celebrity contestants have included Kevin Jonas (of The Jonas Brothers), Amber Wright (49ers cheerleader), several former Miss USA and Miss Universe contestants, Bernard Berrian (Vikings player), Pierre Thomas (Saints player), Aron Ralston (the guy who inspired 127 Hours), Derek Fisher (Lakers player), and Shannon Brown (Lakers player). Steve-O and Ryan Dunn (of Jackass) will be seen in an episode next month.

Favorite Rounds: I can't really think of any contestants in particular that stood out to me, but there are several games in particular that I like to see. "Spoon Tune" is my favorite, where contestants have to link spoons against water-filled glasses to re-order them to play a specific song (like "Old MacDonald had a Farm" or "Row, Row, Row Your Boat"). "High Roller" is a fun one to watch... you have to spin dice in a turned-over cup, hoping that they make a stack when you lift up the cup. You have to do it with 3, 4, and 5 dice. I have no idea how to do this one, and that's part of the intrigue. I also like "Candy Elevator" ... you create a pulley of strings over your ears to lift three M&Ms on a platform to your mouth and eat them. Although the crumbs on my face would bother me, "Face the Cookie" is fun to watch. You put an Oreo on your forehead and get it into your mouth, twice. I also like to watch "Blind Ball" although it always makes me angry. In that game, you get blindfolded and spun around twice, then you have to locate two of four balls that are sitting on wrapping paper tubes at different heights around the circle. If you don't find two, or you knock over three, you lose. 

My take: I'd prefer to pass on this one in favor of competing on a different show. I'm a bit clumsy, and I don't have a steady hand, which would cause me problems in many of the games. However, I have tried to get people I know to try-out, including both my brother and my sister, who I think would be much better than I at the challenges overall.

Do you watch Minute to Win It? Did you when it started? Would you compete? What game would you dread having to try?
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