Who Wants to be a Millionaire?

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The British television quiz show known as "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" first aired in 1998, hosted by Chris Tarrant. It quickly became a hit, with versions launched in many other countries, all following the same general format. A contestant vies for a maximum cash prize of one million pounds by correctly answering successive multiple-choice questions of increasing difficulty.

In 2008, JPM Interactive contracted with one of the show’s producers, 2waytraffic (previously Celador), to create an online arcade game version of Millionaire, complete with clips of Tarrant from the show along with the well-known background music and game sounds. The stake is fixed at £1, which is wagered as soon as the “Play” button is clicked.

Immediately, the static screen gives way to a video image of Tarrant, who introduces the “Fastest Finger First Round.” The player must answer a given question by putting four possible answers in the correct order as quickly as possible. If the answer is correct, the time taken to answer will determine how many of the three available lifelines have been won.

Ask the Audience gives the player access to a poll regarding what the correct answer might be. Phone-A-Friend brings a third party in via audio only to give an opinion about which answer is correct, so the computer’s sound must be turned on. And 50:50 eliminates two wrong answers so that the player may choose between the remaining two possibilities.

A fourth lifeline called “Switch” is also available, but only when the Switch icon has been reached as progress is marked on the game’s “Money Tree.” This lifeline enables the replacement of a question with a new one. Note that all lifelines can be used at any time during the proceeding questions, but only once each.

Each time the player answers one of Tarrant’s questions correctly, points are won and the level indicator moves up a notch on the game’s Money Tree. Prizes range from the value of the initial stake up to 20x that amount for correctly answering the One Million point question. A certain threshold of questions must be answered correctly before any cash amounts are awarded, but upon reaching a cash level, the player receives the opportunity to Collect or Continue. Any incorrect answer ends the game, with one exception—if the very first question is answered incorrectly, one additional chance is given to “try again” before time runs out.

On the way up the Money Tree, other bonuses can be claimed besides cash. For example, there may be a posted “Bonus” level. Upon reaching this milestone, any player who failed to win lifelines in the Fastest Finger First Round is given a second chance to win the three main lifelines by answering a bonus fastest finger first question.

Also, there is a random Live Jackpot level marked by a Millionaire coin on the Money Tree. If the player wins three coins by answering questions correctly en route to this level, a special cash award is given before the game resumes. The Live Jackpot is never gambled; if it is won, it belongs to the player regardless of what happens later in the game. The jackpot amount can be seen in the upper left portion of the game screen.

Another aspect of the Money Tree worth noting is that if a prize is won on the 1,000 points question, the player is guaranteed a cash prize win. The same is true again if the 32,000 points question is answered correctly. Should a subsequent question be answered incorrectly, the prize is equal to the level of any previous guaranteed win.

There are three ways in which the game can end apart from the player’s decision to choose Collect rather than Continue. A wrong answer will terminate play, as will exceeding the time limit for answering. The other possibility is winning at the One Million points level, which will award the top payout and rest the game.

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