It's funny how things turn out. The last time we saw Jasper Carrott he was an aging stand-up comedian with a daughter fast becoming more famous than him. But the time before that, Noel Edmonds was wearing a crap jumper and delivering presents to needy children at Christmas. Who's to say these days?
Now the pair of them are fronting their own popular TV quiz shows, both of which have been transformed into mobile games courtesy of Gameloft. Noel's Deal or No Deal came out well over a year ago and here we have Jasper Carrott's Golden Balls.
This is much better suited to gaming than Deal or No Deal simply because there's more to the TV show's concept than randomly opening red boxes. It does however rely heavily on deciding whether your opponents are lying or telling the truth, and that sort of subtlety is a tough thing to convey in a game.
Fortunately, Gameloft has done a pretty good job. As the other contestants declare what's in their hidden balls, the expressions on their faces range from mild discomfort to sheer squirming terror. The outcome is still a bit random but at least the game gives an impression of each individual having a personality.
Meanwhile, this is all hosted by the slightly gurning and very shiny-topped Jasper Carrott. He even says a few key catchphrases, although "Show us your back-row balls," isn't the sort of thing you should probably let bystanders overhear without aspersions being cast on your character.
As an explanation to these people, let's quickly recap the game. It's split into three rounds. In the first, 12 golden balls are selected from a sort of faux National Lottery machine and dished out to the four contestants. These balls contain amounts of cash that range from £10 to £75,000. Four Killer balls, which aren't good to have, are also added.
Each contestant places two balls into their front-row and two into their back-row. The front-row ones are visible to all, but the back-row ones are secret. Everyone then has to say the value of their hidden balls, but similar to bluffing in a game of poker, they're allowed to lie.
Based on the fact the balls of the players who go onto the following rounds are included in the final money-winning round, each person then votes on who they want to kick out. Obviously it's preferable to keep the biggest money balls in, but then their owner is more likely to be fibbing. Or are they?
Your task is to decide whether to tell the truth or lie about your balls. Seeing as you're not actually standing in front of an audience claiming to have £75,000 in one ball and £50,000 in the other (when you actually only have twenty-five quid), the game makes it easy to lie shamelessly. Perhaps some sort of mini-game to determine the effectiveness of a lie would have been nice touch.
Anyhow, it's relatively simple to progress into the next part of the game, which occurs when two contestants have been voted out.
This final rouind is the bit that actually counts. First you must choose random balls from the machine and hope there's some money behind them to get your final win total up. Then you have to decide whether to split or steal this money with the remaining opponent. If you both choose to split, the jackpot is split between you. If one steal and one splits, the stealer gets everything. If both steal, both get nothing.
As an incentive to keep playing, new episodes are unlocked once you've won enough money, giving you the opportunity to play against increasingly canny opponents.
So all-in-all, Golden Balls is an ambitious game to try and squeeze into mobile form. Some of the subtleties are lost but combined with the shiny presentation, there's enough here to stop the experience failing flat. Like a glitzy cross between Bingo and poker, this proves to be quite a playable experience. Whether it manages to outsell Deal or No Deal will be another matter entirely though.